LEXINGTON, Ky. — A historic Black church in Lexington continues in discussions with city officials, a non-profit, and Lexington Center Corporation over a permanent parking solution.
Main Street Baptist Church leaders said plans for a new park in downtown will take up valuable spaces their congregation badly needs.
What You Need To Know
- Construction of future Town Branch Park has Main Street Baptist Church fighting for parking for its members
- The church says they need at least 250 parking spaces for their congregation
- There have been two proposals so far: one from the church and another from officials with Town Branch Park
- The City of Lexington has not presented an option yet
“I was raised in this church joined some 70 years back, and you love the people,” said Robert Brown, the church's associate pastor.
The church was founded in 1862 by Pastor Frederick Braxton, a former slave who also led efforts in building the church.
Now, the church property includes two buildings that sit next to the future Town Branch Park, which is currently in development. Brown said they need at least 250 spaces for their congregation.
“We have been in negotiation with the government with the civic center, and with the Town Branch people trying to come up with an adequate win-win solution for parking, and we have not been able to come to any satisfactory resolution to that,” Brown said.
Back in January, the church proposed to demolish their Sanctuary, the bigger building.
During March 23's meeting, officials with the Town Branch Park non-profit proposed the church demolish the smaller chapel to create more access to the street.
However, that proposal doesn't fit the church’s needs
“We’re disappointed I must say at the outset that the church is extremely disappointed with the whole process, and we don't feel as if the individuals have been negotiating with us in good faith,” Brown said.
Brandi Peacher is the Director of Project Management with the City of Lexington.
“The mayor's office has been facilitating those conversations, and our intent moving forward is now to take both of the ideas and figure out what's a compromise that will help achieve both party’s goals,” Peacher said.
She said the city of Lexington has not presented an option yet.
“I hate that the church was not as welcoming to the proposal that the Town Branch Park put out there, but that's okay, we can work through that," Peacher said. "We can look at what works from what the church proposed, what works from the park’s proposal, and figure out how we pick and choose those pieces and move forward."
She said that while the negotiations are ongoing, there is a temporary agreement the city executed with the church for 40 parking spaces.
“Now, in that agreement, it states that the city commits to figuring out a long-term solution with the church. So our mayor, our council has put in writing, we want a long-term solution and that is our intent. And I believe that we will get to that this year,” Peacher said.
While there isn’t a permanent solution just yet, Pastor Brown said he’s going to continue to be outspoken.
“This is so vitally important to me in that this is my home church,” Brown said.
Church organizers as well as Lexington city officials say there will be another meeting later this month to discuss the proposals.