To the editor:
I remember voting for the Southern Bypass, but I don't recall voting for the Southern Development Road. To me that's what the trafficway proposal has become, and it is already causing, before construction has even begun, problems I wish Douglas County could avoid.
Within weeks of the trafficway vote, the first tragic side-effect occurred when a local landowner plowed Elkins Prairie, ostensibly to free-up his options for future development. More recently, Lawrence weathered the caustic and divisive Target debate, and now Payless Cashways gets to belly-up to the trafficway bar. A west Lawrence developer wants the city to extend a street to the proposed route so he can build more homes there, and an environmental impact statement OKs the destruction of natural wetlands because the proposed development will include manmade ones.
Now this development road brings to us an issue which is at the top of my list for Lawrence to avoid: a basic difference of opinion with Haskell and the Native American community. The proposed road borders Haskell land used for contemplative study and religious purposes, and Haskell representatives feel they have been excluded from the planning process. Road proponents have tried to respond carefully, but statements with disturbing undertones have been made, both at public forums and within the editorial columns of this paper.
It disturbed me greatly several years ago when one tragic occurrence after another affected the Lawrence Native American community. I personally would not agree completely with the expressed interpretation of those events by some Native American leaders. However, I firmly believe that the onus for improving the relationship between the two communities rests squarely upon Lawrence, not Haskell. It is possibly the single most important issue facing Lawrence today, and it is ironic that the proposal to build a development road offers us the next opportunity for either improving or further disintegrating the relationship between the two communities.
A true bypass should be a clear route from one point to another, with few access points and minimum development. Development creates traffic, which I thought the vote was meant to alleviate. I wish I could vote again on the trafficway, but if it is too late for that, then I would sharply remind road proponents that the 'greater good' involves what is best for the Lawrence and Haskell communities as a whole, not separate entities, and that goal must be realized.
Dennis J. Brown,