What’s so bad about CentrePasture?

UK Student Maggie Casper rode "Brussels" a Belgium Warmblood in the CentrePointe paddock performing jumps and allowing people on the street to come and pet the horse on Sunday. The CentrePointe block turned into a mini-horse show complete with jumps as promotion for the Alltech National Horse Show Nov. 2-6, Sunday, Oct. 23, 2011 in Lexington. Photo by Jonathan Palmer

University of Kentucky student Maggie Casper rode “Brussels” a Belgium Warmblood in the CentrePointe paddock performing jumps and allowing people on the street to come and pet the horse as part of a preview of the 2011 Alltech National Horse Show. © Herald-Leader photo by Jonathan Palmer.

At the risk of sounding incredibly naïve, the latest round of CentrePointe proposals and predictable grumbling compels me to ask, what’s so bad about CentrePasture?

It has not been like the land bounded by Limestone and Upper Street, Vine and Main streets has been sitting untouched since the buildings there were torn down in 2008 to make way for a proposed hotel and other stuff that so far have not happened.

It has hosted big events including performances for the Thriller Parade, classic cars for a Concours d’Elegance preview, art installations, disc golf and other activities, even horses – horses, in a field in the middle of the Horse Capital of the World. What could be more Lexington?

From left, Ray Grijalba, his sister Linda Grijalba, Ken Kerns and Nancy Grijalba, (mother of Ray and Linda) placed flags in the shape of "9-11" at the Centerpointe lot in downtown Lexington, Ky., on Sept. 10, 2012.  The flag memorial was a home school project of  Megan Jackson, a 17-year-old home school student. Numerous volunteers helped place the nearly 3,000 flags for each of the victims of the Sept. 11 2001 terrorist attacks including firefighters and people and downtown office workers. Photo by Pablo Alcala | Staff

From left, Ray Grijalba, his sister Linda Grijalba, Ken Kerns and Nancy Grijalba, (mother of Ray and Linda) placed flags in the shape of “9-11″ at the Centerpointe lot in downtown Lexington, Ky., on Sept. 10, 2012. © Herald-Leader staff photo by Pablo Alcala.

Far from being a barren memorial to unrealized dreams, it has shown how a patch of land can become a venue, sometimes a very significant one, without a bit of brick or mortar.

Annual Fourth of July and St. Patrick’s Day events have been hosted there. Parachutists have used it as a landing pad to give the Thursday Night Live crowd a thrill, and this summer, there was ziplining there.

When it’s opened, it has become a gathering place.

Shortly after the buildings were demolished that included The Dame, there was widespread mourning over the block, including a mourner from ELandF. But now, it seems we’ve made the best of the bad situation, and if construction on new buildings commences, we will lose a popular venue all over again.

I get it, but I just don’t get it.

A view across CentrePointe of Main Street buildings between Upper Street and Limestone. © Photo by Rich Copley.

A view across CentrePointe of Main Street buildings between Upper Street and Limestone. © Photo by Rich Copley.

The proposed structures at CentrePointe, which will also louse up traffic around the structure for a while and obscure the clear view of a charming ensemble of buildings across the street on Main, fill no pressing need, serve no purpose and would probably struggle for years to be profitable.

On the other hand, the gates could be opened, more activities could be planned for the park, and it could become a vibrant center of activity for Lexington and surrounding communities. If there are improvements that could make it even more accommodating to these sorts of events, they could be made.

All that, smack in the middle of town.

Of the various names the field had been given over the past few years, CentrePasture is my favorite. It’s cute. But heck, if developer Dudley Webb wanted to call it Dudley Webb Park, that would be just spiffy, because giving Lexington that green center of city activity would be a legacy worth honoring.

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