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Archive for Tuesday, February 19, 2002

State still accepting comments about Ohio Street properties

February 19, 2002

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The public hearings are over, but both sides are still trying to sway the state officials who will decide the fate of homes in the 1300 block of Ohio Street.

The State Historic Preservation Office (also known as SHPO) is taking written and phoned-in comments on the matter for another week, with a decision to follow two weeks later.

State officials said Monday they have received only five comments through that process, but Kansas University officials and neighborhood activists said they plan to add significantly to the number.

"Our lawyer is preparing a sizable document," said Janet Gerstner, an activist in the Oread Neighborhood Assn. "A few other people may write as well."

KU wants to raze three century-old houses to make way for future scholarship halls. The Oread Neighborhood Assn. and Lawrence Preservation Alliance are opposed, saying the homes should be restored and that construction would represent too much encroachment by KU into the neighborhood.

Because the city and university were unable to resolve the dispute and because the homes are near two buildings on the National Register of Historic Places it now falls to Ramon Powers, executive director of the Kansas State Historical Society, to decide whether demolition is allowed.

"We're still getting comments in," said Christy Davis, assistant director in the society's division of cultural resources. "We're reviewing them as they come in, and we'll review them as a whole once the deadline passes."

The written opinions are divided, Davis said.

"They run the gamut," she said. "It's similar to what we received in the public hearing."

She said she expects a last-minute flurry of submissions.

KU will comment, too.

"There will be additional comments that will be sent to SHPO for consideration," KU Assistant Provost James Long said.

The deadline for comments is Monday.

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