Pair of marquee Lexington parks projects nearing completion

Old Mill Pond trail anticipated for March, expanded Virginia Hylton Park to open later in spring

Posted 12/1/23

Lexington looks to see two anticipated amenities completed this coming spring.

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Pair of marquee Lexington parks projects nearing completion

Old Mill Pond trail anticipated for March, expanded Virginia Hylton Park to open later in spring


Lexington looks to see two anticipated amenities completed this coming spring.

Come March, the town will hopefully have finished its new walking path around the Old Mill Pond and have it open to the public, while the renovation of downtown’s Virginia Hylton Park is anticipated to be completed later in the spring.

The path will be roughly a mile long and provide connectivity for portions of the downtown area featuring an entrance in the primary parking lot of the Old Mill and a trailhead near New Bethel AME Church. Randy Edwards, director of transportation for the town, added that an additional entrance will be installed near the lower parking lot of the Old Mill, the one across the creek, though he explained that this entrance will be constructed at a later date and is not a part of the current project.

“It's really kind of a utopia. It just combines the commercial with restaurants and shopping with residential,” Edwards said, noting the March completion date is very tentative. “The parking lot allows for other town residents to drive and recreate with their families and kids, whether it be bikes or rollerblading or walking.”

The town previously told the Chronicle that the trail was set to cost about $3 million.

Edwards reported that construction of the walking path has not faced any unexpected challenges, adding that weather, which is normally a common impediment to construction, has been great. 

One challenge that he pointed out was the variety of terrain in which they have to construct the fully paved path, telling the Chronicle that the wooded, rocky areas were more difficult to build compared to the ground surrounding the pond.

As to what remains to be done, Edwards told the Chronicle that drainage features to prevent flooding must be installed along with finishing trail construction along the north side of the pond.

Restoration of the dam that forms the pond, which was ruptured in the historic flooding of 2015, was completed this summer, with Edwards sharing that the Old Mill property owner is in control of the water and will be the one to fill it up. He said he is unsure whether the pond will be stocked with fish or if fishing will be allowed.

While it is unsure whether the Old Mill Pond will have fish in it, it is certain that Virginia Hylton Park will have a koi pond once again for residents to enjoy. 

Wesley Crosby, assistant to the town administrator, shared that the park, the restoration and expansion of which has been ongoing since August 2022, will feature two roughly 1,000-square-foot ponds. Only one will have koi, with a 200-foot-man-made stream in between the two.

Virginia Hylton Park’s expansion is adding 8.25 acres to increase the park to 14.25 acres, with construction on additions including an all-inclusive playground, an area specifically for teens, a splash pad, and walking trails nearing completion.

The cost, previously reported to be $7 million, is now $8 million. The park was originally set to be done in September. 

Crosby added that a majority of the park's amenities are virtually complete, with the park’s inclusive playground designed to accommodate children with special needs, and the area specifically for teens featuring games and a friendship swing. He added that the games for the teen area will be installed later but the infrastructure is there.

Previously Mayor Hazel Livingston, then mayor pro-tem, told the Chronicle that the parks committee looked at all kinds of disabilities when considering the playground, mentioning that the park will include braille portions for those with sight problems, stimulation items for autistic children, and will be accessible to those with physical disabilities including those who require a wheelchair.

When it comes to the walking paths, Crosby was unable to give an exact length, telling the Chronicle that they go throughout the park and intertwine with each other. Like the Old Mill walking path, the park's paths will be fully paved as and will range from six six to eight feet in width.

Both the walking path and the trails within the park will mostly be ADA-compliant to ensure the paths are accessible to everyone, though Crosby added there are some portions of the paths that won’t meet the standard.

Upon the paths’ completion, trees and shrubbery will be added to the park, with Crosby confirming that the town will be adding more trees to the park than they took out.

According to Crosby, one of the biggest challenges outside of weather was doing everything they can to preserve the park's tree canopy.

“The park itself has some history, it was established in 1991. It's always been considered a very nice downtown, shaded park,” Crosby said. “The town has grown tremendously since it was originally established.”

“So it's important to have a place for the citizens and the residents of Lexington and Lexington County to be able to have recreation,” he added.


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