Archive for Friday, October 20, 1995


October 20, 1995


City commissioners fear designating South Park as a historic project would make the jail project more difficult.

County officials don't want their jail project held hostage by historic interests.

That means South Park should wait for designation as a local landmark, at least until the expanded Douglas County Jail is under construction, said Louie McElhaney, chair of the Douglas County Commission.

"It's just more red tape for us to go through," he said. "Whenever you're doing a project like this, there are going to be discussions. We would like for it to go just as smooth as possible."

Tuesday night, Lawrence city commissioners will consider recommendations from two city-appointed advisory groups to apply for including the park in the Lawrence Register of Historic Places.

Two months ago, commissioners put off making a decision about the application after County Commissioner Jim Chappell complained that the new historic designation would do nothing but delay the jail project.

Two other historic properties -- the Douglas County Courthouse, 1100 Mass., and the former Old English Lutheran Church, 1040 N.H., -- already are located close enough to the proposed jail to trigger historic reviews, he said.

But those buildings would not be considered in the same historic context as South Park, said Dale Nimz, chair of the city's Historic Resources Commission. Taking away part of a building is one thing, but closing off views to the city's original village green could be quite another.

"If it is a significant property, it should be considered, not ignored," Nimz said.

But McElhaney said adding the park to the historic list could threaten the entire jail project, which aims to include 196 beds in a two- to four-story structure near the park's northern edge. The park borders downtown's southern edge, on both sides of Massachusetts Street.

"We've got to build a jail somewhere," McElhaney said. "We've got to go ahead and get on with it."

Tuesday's city commission meeting begins at 6:35 p.m. at city hall, Sixth and Massachusetts.

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