Mayor: UK, city need to build

The relationship between Lexington and UK is not a short-term affair, said Lexington Mayor Jim Newberry in a forum yesterday sponsored by Student Government.

“UK is going to be here for a long, long time, meaning students will be here for a long, long time,” Newberry said. “Even if you are not here, and I am not still mayor, we want to continue to build a relationship that reflects that long-term commitment.”

The town-and-gown rapport was one of several topics brought up by students at the event, and Newberry and Vice-Mayor Jim Gray encouraged students to get involved in city government to help expand the relationship.

“It’s hard not to find someone who wants to talk about city issues,” Gray said. “People always have concerns, including students, and talking about those issues is how we improve.”

Questions submitted by UK students, faculty and staff prior to the forum were read by SG President Nick Phelps and Vice-President Brittany Langdon and included concerns about the 2010 World Equestrian Games, the rules for students living in Lexington neighborhoods, the city’s promotion of the Top 20 Business Plan and plans to develop downtown.

“At the root of all of these concerns, I see a need to facilitate movement of people from campus to downtown to connect the educational capital to the business expertise,” Newberry said. “If we can’t find ways to connect campus to downtown, we will suffer immensely.”

Newberry said the move of Eastern State Hospital from its facility on Newtown Pike to a new facility and the expansion of Newtown Pike will be a solid connection of Lexington’s higher education institutions to downtown.

“In moving these facilities and expanding the Newtown Pike area, we are connecting Transylvania (University) to Bluegrass Community and Technical College, and to UK and the downtown area,” Newberry said. “This will change how we think about higher education in this community.”

Phelps said students who attended seemed satisfied with the direction the mayor was going and the plans he has to involve UK in the city’s future development.

“I think students walked away from this event knowing that their mayor is working to re-establish a relationship with UK,” Phelps said. “He gave us a good idea of his plans for Lexington and how we will be a part of them.”

Newberry and Gray encouraged students to stay involved in the city council and in development projects downtown.

“This is a time when there are many issues that will affect you as students, and there are always ways to get involved to make your voice heard,” Gray said. “Ways to be heard that are not too civil but also not just overly cynical. The mayor and the city council do listen. When the chamber is full you can’t help but listen.”