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Archive for Tuesday, December 19, 2000

Donation meant to retain prairie oasis in suburbia

December 19, 2000

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Lawrence city commissioners tonight will consider accepting a donation of land that would help create one of the biggest chunks of green space inside city limits.

"It's a pretty substantial donation," said Fred DeVictor, the city's parks and recreation director.

"There needs to be green space in developing areas."

John McGrew, a Lawrence developer who is proposing donating 40 acres of land to the city for use as a nature area and outdoor classroom

John McGrew, a Lawrence developer, is proposing donating 40 acres of land south of West 27th Street and west of Crossgate Drive.

The site is adjacent to a series of other city purchases and donations that, when put together, will create an oasis of more than 100 acres in what may soon become the heart of suburbia.

The land is bordered on the west by new housing being developed by McGrew.

He said a condition of the donation would be that the city pay $62,000 of the estimated $500,000 to pave West 27th Street west of Crossgate Drive. Developers would pay the rest.

McGrew Real Estate has "been a real good citizen in making some contributions," DeVictor said. The Kanza Southwind Nature Preserve and McGrew Nature Preserve also were McGrew donations.

McGrew said past donations have encouraged him to continue. Kanza Preserve, near Sunflower School, is a particular point of pride.

"We donated a similar parcel that has really worked well for the neighborhood and the city and the school," he said. "This fall, I enjoyed watching the kids and their parents walk through with their butterfly nets."

The latest offering borders the west side of the 48-acre Aldrich property the city bought earlier this year, which itself lies immediately south of the future home of the 15-acre Green Meadows Park.

And, DeVictor said, the north part of the future park is joined to the west by a 15-acre plot of land donated by the Dial Corp. for a drainage easement and bike paths.

The 40 acres to be donated by McGrew will be used as a nature area and outdoor classroom.

"It's to preserve a lot of that open space and keep it natural out in that area," DeVictor said.

McGrew echoed his sentiments.

"As a child, I enjoyed the outdoors and nature, and it's harder for urban kids to do that today," he said. "There needs to be green space in developing areas."

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