Monday, April 13, 2009

Trail planned to link battlefield, Perryville

Lexington Herald Leader, Associated Press, March 1st, 2009

PERRYVILLE — The state has purchased 76 acres of land in Central Kentucky and will build a walking and biking trail connecting a Civil War battlefield with a nearby city. The Kentucky Department of Parks recently purchased the land off of U.S. 150 in Perryville for $416,933.

Parks Department spokesman Gil Lawson said the land will be used to connect Perryville with the site where the Battle of Perryville was fought on Oct. 8, 1862.

Lawson says plans call for an "interpretive walking trail" several miles in length and are part of an effort by the state to preserve what he said is one of Kentucky's most valuable landmarks.
"The battlefield is very significant, and was one of the largest in the Civil War," Lawson told The Danville Advocate-Messenger. "It's also been very well preserved, especially when compared to other battlefields in the state. To our knowledge, it still looks very similar to the time of the battle."

The trail will follow a stretch known at the time as Mackville Road, which was basically an undeveloped wagon trail that connected Perry ville to Mackville in Washington County and saw heavy traffic during the war.

Lawson said Mackville Road was apparently very significant during the battle, because it connected the battlefield to the city.

The state paid for the purchase from grant money in Kentucky's Heritage Land Conservation Fund. The fund gets its revenue from the purchase of specialized nature license plates, the state portion of the unmined minerals tax and environmental fines.

Of the total revenue in the fund, the Department of Parks receives a 10 percent allocation.
Plans for the trail come after a failed attempt to develop the property.

The Danville-Boyle County Planning and Zoning Commission last year approved a request from Pete Coyle, a developer and member of the commission, to change a portion of the now state-owned land from agricultural to highway-commercial, single-family and multifamily houses. The Perryville City Council voted against the change, citing in part historical preservation. After the state purchased the land, Coyle described the deal as a "win-win" situation. "This is just going to be a great thing for the city and the battlefield," said Coyle, citing the project's dual ability to preserve history and mark the area.

Lawson agreed.

"The land will be conserved and continued to be made appropriate for wildlife development," the spokesman said.

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