Archive for Sunday, January 19, 2003

SLT opponents discuss plans to save wetlands

Some suggest lawsuits; others argue for alternative to proposed highway

January 19, 2003

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With the benefit of some breathing room, South Lawrence Trafficway opponents Saturday discussed plans to save the Baker Wetlands and ways to keep the issue in the city's spotlight.

Letter-writing campaigns, fund raising and potential lawsuits were all discussed at the group's first meeting since the state transportation secretary announced Thursday that she would wait to spend any of the $14 million set aside for the road expected to run through the wetlands.

"I would like to encourage you all to consider what's next for this parcel of land," said Carey Maynard-Moody, vice chairwoman for the Wakarusa Group of the Sierra Club. "Dream big."

Lawrence resident Mike Caron suggested working to get the site on a list of national endangered places and said he had commitments to co-nominate the area from several prominent American Indians, including Olympic track champion Billy Mills.

Sylvie Rueff, Lawrence, suggested appealing to the Methodist church, which is affiliated with Baker University and which she said historically had a poor relationship with Haskell Indian Nations University.

Others brainstormed ideas that included documenting the number of visitors to the wetlands, finding grant money to make the area public land and building a light rail system to Kansas City.

Another road is only a temporary solution, several people said, an argument that has come up before.

"I don't think there are too many citizens left in this community who don't get it," Maynard-Moody said. "We are going to continue to grow."

The issue is seemingly at a standstill until the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers issues its "record of decision" in selecting a route for the road. The decision is expected Feb. 17. Kansas Transportation Secretary Deb Miller has said she would wait for any lawsuits filed by trafficway opponents to be considered and cleared before moving forward with the project.


If the project goes through, the trafficway would connect the Kansas Turnpike northwest of Lawrence with Kansas Highway 10 southeast of town.

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