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Archive for Friday, March 13, 1992

DOWNTOWN PLAN HEADED TO CITY

March 13, 1992

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After collecting information from neighborhood and city groups, authors and advocates of a report aimed at boosting the economic health of downtown Lawrence will present the document Tuesday to Lawrence city commissioners.

"This presentation should be a non-event, everybody knows so much about it already," said Bob Georgeson, chair of the Lawrence Chamber of Commerce task force that wrote the report.

The report sparked concern among neighborhood groups that feared some recommendations would endanger homes near downtown and spoil the unique, homespun character of downtown Lawrence.

In part, the report recommends expanding the downtown central business district and encouraging a greater mix of retail offerings, such as department stores and national chains.

Commissioners will not be asked to adopt the report or its recommendations, Georgeson said Thursday. "We're asking them to address the issues we've identified in the report."

COMMISSIONERS also plan to hear public comment on the report at the meeting and discuss it further at a study session March 30.

The four main points of the report are:

Access to downtown Lawrence must be improved.

The size of downtown Lawrence must increase significantly if downtown is to remain the commercial center of the community.

Conveniently located parking is an essential element for an economically viable downtown.

A broad mix of offerings downtown is highly desirable.

Commissioners will receive the report at 8:30 p.m. Tuesday after discussion of a report on the policies and practices of the Lawrence Police Department.

Georgeson also will ask commissioners to appoint a community coalition to create a master plan for downtown development, he said Thursday.

The report and its recommendations could be used as a springboard for the master plan, Georgeson said.

COMMISSIONERS will be asked to consider input from community groups that have criticized and commented on the report.

Meetings with groups that could be affected by report recommendations were scheduled with task force members and officials of Downtown Lawrence Inc., which has endorsed the report. DLI officials recorded the input of groups members and have given commissioners summaries of the comments.

Groups that met with DLI officials and task force members include the Lawrence Historic Resources Commission, the Oread Neighborhood Assn., the East Lawrence Improvement Assn. and the Indian Hills Neighborhood Assn.

Their concerns, as summarized by DLI, include:

Historic preservation.

Preservation of downtown's unique flavor.

Creating public transportation to help alleviate access and parking problems.

Seeking neighborhood input when considering expansion of downtown boundaries.

MEMBERS OF many neighborhoods groups have said they were interested in speaking at the meeting but few have concrete plans yet, said Jennifer Brown, coordinator of the Oread Neighborhood Assn.

ONA President Kyle Thompson will make a presentation for the group, Brown said. A representative of the Lawrence Association of Neighborhoods will give LAN's position on the report, said Mary Thomas, past chair for LAN.

Brown said she would collect position papers from neighborhoods groups and give them to city staff if there is not enough time for all neighborhood representatives to speak at the meeting.

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