Botanic Garden in Sports Controversy
2 November 2006
The Lexington Arboretum, otherwise known as the "Official State Botanical Garden for the Commonwealth of Kentucky", is finding itself at the centre of a debate over whether it is appropriate for athletes to use it as a training ground.
Arboretum supporters and scholars who use it for research are protesting that the botanic garden is not suitable as a training and practice facility for organized sports. They say is not good for the plants, or for the teaching and research that takes place in the Arboretum. They are also concerns that it can interfere with other Arboretum visitors.
"This is university property. It's maintained by the university and it's property that the track team has used for more than a generation. And they're not disturbing the Arboretum," Blanton said.
Concerns for Rare Plants
Researchers like Jim Lempke, curator of native plants at the Arboretum, and other Arboretum supporters are concerned about just what the University has in mind when it comes to a new wood-chip trail.
"Our wood lot is one of the last, best relics of inner Bluegrass forest," Lempke said of Arboretum Woods. "This wood lot is one of the most important pieces of land to the ecology of the Bluegrass."
Michelle Kosieniak, superintendent of planning, design and landscape for the local government's division of parks and recreation and a member of the Arboretum Advisory Committee said "My sense is that if the university is serious about hosting the state botanical garden ... that athletic teams using the facility for practice is not compatible."
The question of whether organized athletic teams and the Arboretum can co-exist has been debated by Arboretum supporters and UK officials over the past couple of years. Talk about the issue has intensified in recent weeks, with participants looking at alternative places for athletes to train.
Whether or where the new wood-chip trail for University of Kentucky runners goes ahead could depend upon a n amendment to a lease agreement between University and the local government relating to the Arboretum. The agreement, good for 50 years, was signed in 1987.
United States of America - Kentucky - Lexington
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