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Archive for Sunday, March 23, 1997

CITY COMMISSION

March 23, 1997

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Lawrence city commissioners are scheduled to discuss designating a city park as a local landmark.

Commissioners will consider whether to allow public hearings regarding the nomination of South Park to the Lawrence Register of Historic Places.

The Lawrence Preservation Alliance (LPA) wants the city to recognize the park, south of Eleventh Street along Massachusetts Street, as a local landmark. The park was established in 1854 as a village green in the city's original townsite.

LPA says the park is worthy of being a landmark, given its historic significance. The park was a staging area for Quantrill's raiders in 1863, the site of a victory bonfire following Kansas University's first home football game in 1890, and the home of a horse fountain dedicated by former President Theodore Roosevelt in 1910.

Tuesday night, commissioners will be asked to allow the nomination to move forward. Commissioners would not approve the landmark designation; instead, they would consider allowing the Historic Resources Commission (HRC) and, eventually, themselves to conduct public hearings to decide whether the designation is worthwhile.

City commissioners would make the final decision about whether the park should be deemed historic.

A landmark designation for the park would have several ramifications. Among them:

  • Any development requiring a building permit -- exterior construction, alteration or removal -- within 250 feet of the park would need HRC approval.
  • Any demolition requiring a city permit in the same area also would need HRC approval.
  • Any construction, alteration, demolition or removal affecting a significant exterior feature -- architectural or historical -- as specified in the landmark designation, in the same area, also would require HRC approval.

If a property owner were dissatisfied with an HRC decision, it could be appealed to the city commission.

City Background

South Park, which covers 31 acres along Massachusetts Street, was established in 1854 as a village green. The park once staged a Franklin Roosevelt stump speech and continues to serve as a home for outdoor band concerts each summer.

"It's very important," said K.T. Walsh, LPA vice president. "The park was part of the original town design, and a lot of the original founders of the city of Lawrence owned land around the edges of the park -- land they speculated would be valuable someday. And that's just what people are saying now."

Historic preservation issues have taken center stage recently in the downtown area.

Tuesday night, commissioners approved a Downtown Urban Design Concept Plan that, among other things, requires redevelopments to "respect the historic fabric and character" of downtown. It further calls for adopting design guidelines for redevelopments, as well as encouraging development of a downtown historic district.

The Lawrence Chamber of Commerce has already told the city of its opposition to creating such a district, saying it would not be in the best interests of downtown property owners, the entire business district or even adjoining neighborhoods.

"To do so could greatly restrict the selection of goods and services available to persons wanting to shop or do business downtown," said Marilyn Bittenbender, chair of the chamber's board of directors, in a letter to commissioners.

Plans for a Borders bookstore, to be located at 700 N.H., also drew fire from hundreds of Lawrence residents, many of whom wanted the city to preserve a former livery stable targeted for demolition. A compromise approved this month calls for saving two exterior walls.

The park's nomination surfaced well before the Borders deal, but was put off while Douglas County commissioners mulled plans for building a new jail adjacent to the park, on a parking lot at the Judicial and Law Enforcement Center, 111 E. 11th.

County commissioners eventually bowed to public opposition, and moved the jail project to vacant land southeast of town.

LPA pushed to have the nomination reconsidered before a new commission takes office April 8.

Other business

  • Proclaim Sunday through March 29 "National Community Development Week."
  • Proclaim Monday through Friday "Tree City USA Week" and Friday "Arbor Day."
  • Approve drinking-establishment licenses for Free State Brewery, 636 Mass.; The Jazzhaus, 926 1/2 Mass.; and Jesters, 1105 Mass.
  • Set a 2 p.m. April 8 deadline for bids to install new traffic signals, turn lanes and other geometric improvements at the intersection of Sixth Street and Folks Road.
  • Agree to hire LRM Industries, for $599,846, to complete the first phase of the city's overlay program this summer.
  • Approve an ordinance, on final reading, to amend the city code to remove a requirement for a special permit for certain towers less than 100 feet tall.
  • Approve an ordinance, on final reading, to rezone property related to redevelopment of property at Kmart, southeast of 31st and Iowa streets.
  • Approve an ordinance, on final reading, to condemn property in North Lawrence for a new sanitary sewer pump station.
  • Adopt a resolution allowing the city to convey title to Packerware Corp. of certain property, as part of the redemption of industrial revenue bonds for Packer Plastics.
  • Approve a $12,384 agreement with Terracon Consultants to provide geotechnical services for construction of an overflow sewage basin in the Four Seasons area. The construction project is expected to take about two years.
  • Agree to hire David M. Griffith and Associates Ltd. to provide franchise fee compliance audits. Southwestern Bell and Western Resources would be audited this year, while Kansas Public Service and Sunflower Cablevision would be audited next year.
  • Approve a site plan for a sidewalk dining area outside Bourgeois Pig, 6 E. Ninth.
  • Approve a natural area protection easement for city-owned property along the south bank of the Kansas River east of the Lawrence Riverfront Plaza Factory Outlets. The city would grant the Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks a continuing restriction on certain uses and activities in the area.
  • Consider a request from Steven Bruner to name the east wing of the renovated Union Pacific Depot "Arden Booth Free State Theatre."
  • Consider authorizing staffers to draw up a resolution for financing an estimated $600,000 erosion-control project in the Deerfield area. Under the resolution, owners of 39 lots along the channel sides of Tomahawk and Creekwood drives would pay no more than $5,000 each in special assessments for the project.
  • Consider approving an agreement to pay Agree Realty and Winter Inc. $100,000 for public parking spaces in a private lot planned within the Winter block, which is bordered by New Hampshire, Rhode Island, Seventh and Eighth streets. The deal is connected to planned construction of a Borders bookstore at 700 N.H.

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