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Archive for Thursday, December 6, 2001

Planner wants city effort to bridge town-gown gap

December 6, 2001

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Lawrence's town-and-gown divide is detrimental to the city's long-range planning, said an official who straddles both sides of that line.

David Burress, a Kansas University economics professor who serves on the Lawrence-Douglas County Planning Commission, raised the issue Wednesday at the commission's mid-month study session.

"Our planning model is KU acts and we react," he said. "I don't like that model too much."

The conversation came during an update on revisions to Transportation 2020, the city-county long-range transportation planning guide. Michael Young, interim transportation planner, said those plans do not yet include KU joining its bus program with the city's.

"KU is reluctant to discuss coordination at this time," Young said, citing Environmental Protection Agency and Americans with Disabilities Act concerns that would have to be overcome.

Burress asked if efforts were made to get KU involvement in the overall transportation plan.

"KU has as big a traffic impact as anybody in town," Burress said.

Young said city officials took KU's traffic effect into account. Beyond that, he said, "we work with them on issues as they come up."

Planning commissioners said the city and university should work more closely to gauge the long-term effects of one's plans on the other.

"How do we get them on board so we can coordinate?" asked Commissioner Myles Schachter.

Planning Director Linda Finger said the coordination is better than it used to be. City staffers have been consulted on KU plans, she said even though the city has no jurisdiction over campus matters. And KU has made efforts to bring its stormwater drainage into compliance with city standards.

"We've actually made progress from where we've been," Finger said, then added: "It's been a conscious choice of the city's not to push the issue."

Burress said that should change.

"The issue of interaction with KU comes up over and over again," he said. "The city commission may not always be as passive as it has been. ... It would be appropriate to have the planning commission ask the city commission to take another look at that policy."

KU officials referred questions to Assistant Provost James Long. Long did not respond to phone and e-mail requests for information.

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