Archive for Friday, May 9, 2003

New planning commissioners ready for work

Pediatrician to use Oread neighborhood experience as guide on commission

May 9, 2003


When Progressive Lawrence Campaign candidates swept the Lawrence City Commission election in April, Terry Riordan told his wife: "Their first appointments are going to be under the microscope."

Now he gets to test that theory personally.

Riordan is one of Mayor David Dunfield's two appointments to the Lawrence-Douglas County Planning Commission, an often-contentious board that receives more public attention than any other city advisory body.

But Riordan, a longtime Lawrence pediatrician, said he wasn't worried. He is a past president of the Oread Neighborhood Assn., and helped lead that organization's fight against Kansas University's successful proposal to tear down century-old homes there in favor of a new scholarship hall.

"I think that gave me a lot of experience on how to deal with controversy," Riordan said of his Oread days. "And it gave me a better understanding of how the city works."

His neighborhood background might lead you to believe that Riordan will narrowly interpret Horizon 2020, the city-county comprehensive plan that guides Planning Commission decisions. But Riordan insisted he would keep an open mind on development proposals.

"I think it's a blueprint, but I don't think it's meant to be exact," he said of Horizon 2020.

Riordan said he didn't think city leaders had done a bad job guiding Lawrence's growth.

"If you look at the city as it is now, we've made some good decisions over time -- both by building some structures, and by not building some structures," he said, pointing to the city's rejection of mall proposals during the 1980s.

Riordan said he would try to be fair with all sides of debates.

"I really don't like controversy," he said. "I tend to like looking at both sides and finding a compromise. Sometimes it happens. Sometimes it doesn't."

Riordan takes his seat in June.

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