The Lawrence Historic Resources Commission has become the latest local organization to take interest in a downtown development proposal.
At its next meeting, which is scheduled for 7 p.m. Feb. 20 in the Lawrence City Commission chambers, the city-appointed body will hear a formal presentation on the proposal from representatives of Downtown Lawrence Inc.
Linda Finger, a city planner who advises the HRC, said the group visited at its meeting Thursday with Lisa Blair, DLI's coordinator. HRC members agreed they should take an active role in the public discussion as the downtown development proposal advances toward city hall.
Finger said the group's role will be advisory "so that we're on line to be of assistance before older buildings are taken out."
The proposal, which was drafted by the Lawrence Chamber of Commerce's Downtown Development task force and endorsed by DLI, calls for expansion of the central business district to maintain its economic viability.
TO DATE, no specific proposals for demolition of homes or buildings have been made. However, Finger said the group was concerned that the historical significance of older homes on the edges of surrounding neighborhoods might be overlooked as development plans are drawn up.
For example, she said, "there are some homes identified at the northern end of East Lawrence that are pre-Quantrill." It is possible, she said, that someone drafting a development proposal might not know where such structures are located.
So far, DLI has scheduled meetings with three local neighborhood organizations to make presentations on the proposal and invite those groups to join DLI and the chamber in a coalition to back the plan. DLI also is trying to schedule meetings with other groups.
THE FOLLOWING presentations have been booked so far:
Oread Neighborhood Assn., 7 p.m. Wednesday, chamber of commerce offices, 734 Vt.
North Lawrence Improvement Assn., 7 p.m. Feb. 10, International Order of Odd Fellow Hall, 615 Lincoln.
Brook Creek Neighborhood Assn., 7:30 p.m. Feb. 12, East Lawrence Recreation Center, 1245 E. 15th.
Andrew Ramirez, DLI's past president, said Thursday that the downtown group also was attempting to schedule a meeting of all downtown merchants, not just those who belong to DLI, and would be contacting downtown churches as well.
"The decision also has been made to involve some of the church groups," Ramirez said. "A couple of them rely on city parking, and I think parking is a critical issue for them, at least on Sundays."
Among the proposals in the plan is improved parking and traffic access for downtown and the development of a broader mix of businesses, professional services and cultural and entertainment uses for the central business district.