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Archive for Thursday, March 26, 1998

WEST DEVELOPMENT

March 26, 1998

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To the editor:

On March 3, the Journal-World ran Mark Fagan's article under the headline ``Pushing the limits: Developers, city officials envision expansion to northwest.'' The headline should have stated ``Welcome to the Sixth Street buffet: Developers only need apply.''

A subsequent article by Mark Shields (``Legislation holding up possible area lake resorts,'' J-W March 12) reinforces the notion that the Journal-World or at least local developers and public servants it selects for interviews, endorse widespread development along the western boundaries of Lawrence. But these articles suggest another message as well: The wishes of the people of Lawrence and Douglas County do not matter in the scramble for profit.

Three points, in particular, are worth mentioning.

First, according to Fagan's article, at least some, if not many, of the developers lining up to transform the Sixth Street/Highway 40 corridor do not live in the area. In other words, this development will bring its greatest value to people who live outside of Douglas County, not to the taxpayers and residents whose real estate taxes will no doubt increase as we continue to subsidize this development.

Second, the plans for the Sixth Street/Highway 40 corridor call for extensive commercial zoning. Whatever the merits of creating another useless mall in eastern Kansas, we would have thought at least that the Journal-World would have wondered about the impact of such development on downtown merchants. Since economic vitality of the downtown merchants plays a decisive role in the local economy, building malls on the periphery of the city threatens the livelihood and quality of life of countless city and county residents.

Third, why are taxpayers putting up $6 million to pay for the widening of Sixth Street/Highway 40 between Wakarusa and the South Lawrence Trafficway? We ride that stretch of road every day and it does not need to be widened at this time. Who will this road benefit? According to the Journal-World, out-of-town developers who want to build malls. That does not seem a very wise decision by city and county officials entrusted with the sacred responsibility of spending our tax dollars.

Perhaps the elected officials in the city and county should begin to pay attention to the needs of the people they represent instead of the commercial fantasies of outsiders.

Peter Mancall,

Lisa Bitel,

847 N. 1710 Rd.

Kaw confusion

To the editor:

In the March 17 J-W article about House Bill 2925 being held up in Senate committee, Kansas Rep. Laura McClure and Sen. Sandy Praeger were quoted as saying there was ``confusion'' about the bill.

I canoe the Kaw a lot and I testified in the Senate hearing as an opponent of that bill because I was confused. Here's why:

HB2925 gives commercial dredging a 19-mile river section below Wamego that is so cool it's already registered with the National Park Service for future inclusion in the federal Wild and Scenic Rivers program.

The bill gives 2/3 of the Kaw to dredging and only 1/3 to recreation without giving the two recreation areas increased protection from equally dangerous non-dredging impacts.

The bill lets new dredges into places where boaters are not used to seeing them while simultaneously enticing more people to boat the Kaw its entire length. This creates an outdoor recreation environment that is inherently dangerous.

There is no provision for building a comprehensive safety infrastructure to warn people of sand dredges and lowhead dams. The bill ignores the need for two new state-owned ``escape and entry'' accesses that bookend the west multi-use area. Without a public access to take off at, downriver boaters approaching this dredging area will be forced to trespass across private land to leave the river.

The bill allows severe stream damage and floodplain blight on 2/3 of the river's length without shielding self-propelled boaters from the menace of more dredges. This will make the Kaw unattractive to the nation's recreational boaters and THAT will keep the small valley towns from making money offering river recreation-based retail sales and services.

HB2925 lets commercial dredging invade new sections without making the dredgers involved pay a cent to mitigate the negative and predictable impacts those operations will cause, such as head cutting erosion that silently removes mineral-rich upstream floodplain acreage.

This ``Kansas River Recreation Bill'' was supported by the dredgers. Were they confused? Well, the bill does let them gut most of the river and keep other businesses away from the ``greener'' millions that would start floating downstream if legislators truly developed the Kaw for recreation. So I guess not.

Joe Hyde,

1605 W. 27th.

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