Archive for Saturday, April 28, 2001

City set to approve historic preservation plan ––— Comprehensive proposal draws praise from Lawrence Preservation Alliance

April 28, 2001


Lawrence city commissioners on Tuesday are expected to approve creation of a Comprehensive Historic Preservation Plan. Creation of the plan will be funded, in part, by a federal grant through the Kansas State Historic Society.

Dennis Enslinger, the city's historic resources administrator, said it would take about a year to create the plan.

"It will be a very public-intensive document," he said.

City officials have been surveying older parts of Lawrence for the past decade, documenting buildings and neighborhoods that qualify for preservation. The surveys were done on a neighborhood-by-neighborhood basis.

"This is an attempt to put it all together in one document," said City Manager Mike Wildgen.

Members of the Lawrence Preservation Alliance applauded the news Friday.

"Wow," said Carol Francis, an LPA member, as she heard of the plan. She said a comprehensive plan should complement the city's new Downtown Design Guidelines and strengthen efforts to preserve the area.

"I think it's time we had some kind of preservation downtown," she said. "It's what makes Lawrence unique. We've got a great thing going -- why ruin it with chrome and glass?"

Pat Kehde, LPA president, said public involvement in the process should raise awareness of preservation issues.

"I think it's always a good idea to get people thinking about preserving historically significant aspects of our built environment," she said.

That means saving one or two buildings isn't so beneficial, Kehde said, if the surrounding areas are radically changed.

"It's like a mouth with one or two teeth in it," she said.

Kehde said the comprehensive plan also could provide financial benefits to the city. Studies have shown, she said, that buildings and neighborhoods that are preserved and rehabilitated "are almost always more financially successful" than new construction.

"The dollars and cents are there," she said.

There also are intangible benefits, Kehde said.

"People think historic preservation is we want everything to be brick and have little windows. That's not right," she said.

"Historic preservation isn't just design guidelines. It's more about living with the fabric of the past and respecting it."

-- Staff writer Joel Mathis can be reached at 832-7126.

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