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Archive for Wednesday, August 12, 1992

HORIZON 2020

August 12, 1992

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Should Lawrence expand to the west or south, or not at all?

Which streets should carry the most traffic?

How much land in Douglas County should be devoted to industry and how much to farming?

These are questions Douglas County residents may raise and answer Thursday at a special town meeting giving them the chance to help make tomorrow's land-use decisions today.

Planners of the meeting, which will kick off the "visioning" process that officials consider key to the drafting of the Horizon 2020 land-use plan, say participation from residents and community leaders is vital.

The meeting will be divided into two main parts: a session in which residents discuss in small groups and then with consultants what they want to community to be in the future; and a session in which residents are invited to talk about their main concerns and community needs.

"I think citizens need the ability to have some input on what's going to happen in their community," said Jean Milstead, chair of the 15-member committee that will steer the Horizon 2020 process.

Residents won't embrace the plan unless they feel they had a hand in creating it, she said. "Anyone who participates can make a difference," she said.

The meeting will get under way at 7 p.m. Thursday at the Lawrence High School auditorium, 1901 La. It is open to the public, and meeting planners hope at least 300 residents will attend.

"WE REALLY need to have at least 300 people at this meeting," said Diane Mullens, the city planner organizing the forum.

City and county officials hope residents will bring to the table a wide range of concerns and hopes for the community.

Yet a sampling of some leaders of local organizations contacted Tuesday found that many had no plans to air their concerns.

"I plan to go and listen a lot and take my cue from what happens," said Jo Andersen, past president of the East Lawrence Improvement Assn. and vice president of Tenants to Homeowners, a new non-profit housing group.

Many organizations, including some neighborhood groups, have no official statements planned. In addition, some individuals contacted said they wouldn't be able to get to the meeting because of previous commitments or vacations.

"I actually had a meeting scheduled for Thursday with the board of directors of Headquarters Inc.," said Bill Simons, coordinator of Project Acceptance, an advocacy group for the long-term mentally ill.

"Certainly there are some issues that the project wants to express public transportation, some kind of shelter for the homeless," he said. "If I can get out of my obligation, I'll certainly bring all that up."

HORIZON 2020 will replace Plan 95 and the Douglas County Guide Plan as the official manual for guiding growth in Lawrence and the unincorporated areas of Douglas County.

It will spell out policies for decision-makers on almost every aspect of life in the county, including neighborhood quality, streets, agriculture, housing and business.

Officials estimate that final document will be ready by September 1993.

Residents will be asked at Thursday's meeting to answer a questionnaire and talk about the elements of the community they value and those they would like to change.

They also will be asked to envision the ideal Douglas County of the future and describe the elements of their dream counties.

Steering committee members will take common concerns and appoint special committees of residents to examine the problems and propose solutions.

The consultants organizing the process will take residents' visions of the future and draft a "vision statement" which will help guide the creation of Horizon 2020.

THE QUESTION now is what will come out of the meeting, said Arthur Anderson, chair of the Lawrence Association of Neighborhoods.

"We haven't really organized any specific comments," he said.

Anderson said he expected residents to mention "obvious" community concerns, such as the need for public transportation, affordable housing, and an economically strong downtown.

"Those things are out there already, and I'd assume somebody would bring those up," he said.

Officials of Downtown Lawrence Inc. said they had no plans to mention any specific concerns at the meeting.

"A vast majority of people are on vacation right now," said Lisa Blair, DLI downtown administrator.

Blair referred comments on DLI's interest in Horizon 2020 to Myles Schachter, DLI vice president. Schachter said Tuesday that he would be on vacation Thursday.

Jennifer Brown, coordinator of the Oread Neighborhood Assn., said she was interested in what participants have to say at the meeting, but did not have a clear understanding of the Horizon 2020 process.

"I THINK IT is confusing. It is hard to fathom this process, it takes so long. It is hard for the ordinary citizen to follow this," she said.

To clear up questions on the process, Milstead will present an overview toward the end of the meeting, said Mullens.

Brown and other neighborhood group officials said they might bring up a list of recommendations for Horizon 2020 drafted by LAN last year.

The recommendations include:

Seeking quality jobs for residents beyond minimum-wage employment.

Seeking economical mass transportation for all residents and lowering speed limits in neighborhoods.

Emphasizing the importance of cultural diversity to the community.

Past LAN chair Steve Lopes downplayed the visioning process, saying the community first needs to talk about its current state before making plans for the future.

"THERE ARE a lot of different perceptions of where we are," he said. "I would have preferred a panel discussion of Plan 95. Some people think it's a piece of junk, and others say it's better than sliced cheese, and I think we should talk about that."

The meeting will be broadcast on KLWN radio and Sunflower Cablevision's Channel 6.

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