Archive for Tuesday, August 24, 1993


August 24, 1993


The earliest sketches of a planning blueprint that will take Lawrence and Douglas County into the year 2020 are starting to take shape.

Proposals by community task groups for the Horizon 2020 strategic plan include:

-- Creating an intergovernmental task force to plan for development of the Kansas Highway 10 corridor.

-- Establishing a municipal utility to administer the storm water management program.

-- Initiating commuter rail service between Lawrence, Kansas City and Topeka.

-- Adopting a mill levy to pay for economic development strategies.

Hundreds of suggestions were compiled this year by the Horizon 2020 task groups and summarized in a synthesis report.

Out of the synthesis report will come the Strawman Plan, the earliest version of what will eventually be the Horizon 2020 plan, setting community policies and goals. The Strawman Plan marks the halfway point for Horizon 2020.

Horizon 2020 will replace Plan '95 and the Douglas County Guide Plan to manage growth and development in nine areas: land use, economic development, education, environment, governmental cooperation, historic resources, retail development, transportation and neighborhoods.

It now appears as if Plan '95 will remain in effect into 1995. A revised calendar for Horizon 2020 targets a Jan. 15, 1995, delivery date, about one year later than originally scheduled.

The process of creating a comprehensive plan is taking longer than the consultants expected, said Jean Milstead, member of the Horizon 2020 steering committee and the Lawrence-Douglas County Planning Commission.

"When we started, the members of the planning commission talked about a three-year process," she said. "When the consultants selection was made, they wanted to hold it to 18 months. They felt from a citizens' standpoint, it's hard to keep citizens interested over a longer period."

The consultants, Trkla, Pettigrew, Allen & Payne of Chicago, based their 18-month estimate on previous comprehensive plans for other communities. They have a $100,000 contract for Horizon 2020.

In addition, the task groups meetings were put off until January so volunteers would not have to work during the 1992 Christmas holidays, Milstead said. Even so, their reports were finished by the end of June.

Planning in Lawrence, especially planning something as far-reaching as Horizon 2020, is typically a lengthy process, said Gary Toebben, president of the Lawrence Chamber of Commerce.

"There are so many people that feel strongly about this community, they want to provide input, and because their views are very diverse, the roles of the facilitators and consultants are difficult," he said. "Sometimes it just takes time."

Extending the Horizon 2020 schedule is acceptable "as long as it doesn't cost more money," Lawrence Mayor John Nalbandian said. "And I believe the consultants said they would stick with the same price.

"One of the things you realize after spending some time on the city commission, if you don't do things right the first time, you'll get a second chance, and you won't like it."

"This is a big task," agreed Louie McElhaney, chair of the Douglas County Commission. "I don't know how they are doing timewise, but it's going to take a while to get this done."

Although most of Horizon 2020 may not be finalized until 1995, one section -- economic development -- will be finished early and an interim plan issued.

But the $20,000 economic development plan, co-subsidized by the city, county, Chamber of Commerce, Lawrence school district and Kansas University, may have to be amended when the rest of Horizon 2020 is finalized.

Economic development will be speeded up "so we don't waste money," Milstead said. "One of things they want is some principles the community agrees on, what type of economic development marketing program we should have, what jobs in community, the pay scale. They want some definite input from community. So when we do an economic development forecast, we're not wasting money."

It makes sense to complete the economic development portion before finalizing policies on land use, Toebben said.

"Depending on the economic development plan, you may have different land use needs," he said. "One of the strategies could be to concentrate on high-technology firms, so we may need certain land zoning. Another strategy could be to concentrate on retirement facilities, which is a growing national trend, so we would want to make sure land was available and zoned for that development."

Achieving consensus among the land use task group members apparently was not easy, Nalbandian said.

In retrospect, Nalbandian said, he would have liked more moderates and fewer extremists appointed to the group.

"It seems like what we did was put extreme points of view on the committee, both sides of the growth issue, hoping they'd come together in the middle," he said. "There's got to be a better way to do it. We're giving up in this city far too much political room to extreme viewpoints on all kinds of issues. I think the final report will get modified, to reflect the middle ground."

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