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Lawrence and Douglas County

Lawrence and Douglas county

Commissioners ask for help with ‘vision’

December 22, 2005

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Imagine putting together a puzzle without ever seeing the picture on the front of the box.

Some city commissioners believe Lawrence is doing just that when it comes to the city's growth.

Mayor Boog Highberger, along with commissioners Sue Hack and David Schauner, on Wednesday called for the hiring of an outside consultant to help the city create an overall "vision" for community planning.

"We can't just continue to say how wonderful Lawrence, Kansas, is because I don't think it is going to last if we don't take steps to make it last," Hack said.

Hack and Schauner - who have been on opposite sides of several issues - released a joint statement Wednesday calling for the city, the county, the school district and the Law-rence Chamber of Commerce to join in the search for a consultant who would help the community answer big questions about what it wants to be in coming decades.

And Highberger on Wednesday began work on an effort to bring a team of planning and design professionals to study Lawrence. He asked a meeting of university officials, neighborhood leaders, developers and others to help identify community needs in an application for a $15,000 grant to make that project possible.

The study - sponsored by the American Institute of Architects - would focus on ways to make Lawrence more economically, environmentally and socially sustainable. A $5,000 city match would be needed to obtain the grant.

Highberger said the process could help the community build consensus about its future. The city will learn if it has been selected by mid-February.

"I don't think our problems have been about growth per se, but really about what growth will look like," Highberger said.

Hack said the AIA program could help jump-start a more formal vision process.

But there was confusion Wednesday about the commissioners' intent.

Some members of Highberger's stakeholders group on Wednesday said they were looking for some specific direction. Phil Struble, president of Landplan Engineering, said he thought the city had failed to clearly plot out where the next round of development should take place.

"There's a big frustration that there's no big arrow pointing to where we are going to grow," Struble said.

Carrie Lindsey, president of the League of Women Voters of Lawrence-Douglas County, said details would be important during the visioning process.

"It is not enough to say that we want good jobs," Lindsey said. "We need to say what kind of good jobs we want. We can't just say we want neighborhoods. We need to say what kind of neighborhoods we want."

Lavern Squier, president and chief executive officer of the chamber, said the community must figure out how to protect its existing advantages, and develop new ones.

"At times we probably have had prosperity happen to us," Squier said, "rather than us having pursued prosperity in a planned way."

Comments

norm 9 years ago

ANOTHER PLANNING/STUDY GROUP?! Absurd. The vision and thought process exists right here in Lawrence. However, any ideas which differ from those of the ruling junta of three are excluded from any appointed advisory post so we get milk toast day in and day out. If you aren't a buddy of booger, runnie, or the Mayor Of Potwin, your idea is disregarded.

Ok, so now we get stuck with a "paid visionary"? Ouiji board City.

Anyone for a collective read of Candide and it's applicability to Lawrence? There's been enough of Pangloss around here to last well into the next century. We need more of Martin's viewpoint.

cowboy 9 years ago

Take one large handful of money , wait for 35 mph gust of wind , toss in air.

That will get you as far as this " we vision " thing. Larwence has screwed itrself by controlling the growth and making it expensive and difficult to do business here. Take a look at lot prices or small acreages , no one but the rich can afford to buy anything here and the surrounding area ground is all super expensive and has been held by families and investors for a decade.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 9 years ago

Like your writing style better than Marion's, but otherwise it's just as pointlessly whiny, Norm.

dviper 9 years ago

Bottom line is this. It does not matter what the consultants bring back as a vision / strategic plan. The city commission controls what development happens or doesn't happen in Lawrence. They can override, ignore, modify or accept any project for whatever reason they want. There are plenty of examples of this during the last 3 years.

The best way to control the vision / strategic plan for Lawrence is with your vote. If you like the status quo and 'no growthers' continue to vote for the current commissioners.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 9 years ago

That's just so much simplistic crap, dviper. The "development community" has much more control over what sort of development happens here-- they just don't have a rubberstamp on the city commission any more.

This city commission has done nothing more than allow others get involved in determining how the city develops and grows, but the developers will still be the ones doing the developing. It's time they quit griping about having to learn to play well with others, and feel fortunate that they live and work in a city that is going to continue to grow no matter what the city commission does.

What's wrong with making sure that that growth is good for as many people as possible?

leftwingfarmboy 9 years ago

Good post bozo! Hey 'cowboy' you call for unlimited growth. What is that going to do to your range (i don't mean stove)? Or are you one of those 'urban cowboys' that drives a pick up so you can call yourself a cowboy...

chzypoof1 9 years ago

I think they need someone to come in that is objective. As displayed by most posts out here, most people in town are looking out for their own self interests, not what's best for the whole town. We are protecting a wetland that WE PUT THERE. It can be moved. If Lawrence continues to sit back and do nothing, this town will grow too big for the current infrastructure, and Lawrence will lose that small town college atmosphere that I know so many of us love. Let's improve the town for all of us, not just the SLT haters.....

hurlehey 9 years ago

Maybe if we elected people who were qualified instead of ideological favorites our city leaders could handle their jobs.

coldsplice 9 years ago

I grew up in Lawrence and now live in Minnesota. My home just west of Minneapolis is in a city that went through this vision process, starting about 10 years ago. I say starting because community identity (and that's what is really at stake here) is not a clearly defined thing. It's ongoing. My city did an entire "Visioning" process in house, without spending a ton of $ and it has been relatively well received because it was about asking residents what was important to them in a "home town".

Community development is about identity, not malls, or roundabouts. That stuff is a by-product of planning but 1st you have to decide what is important to you in a long term way-you know, what makes Lawrence, Lawrence? I'd say with KU there, high class education should be at the top of the list. Therefore, your development plan should require that each step in development address how the new office park/housing area/road construction/etc. will or could impact education in the city.

BTW, if you think that the AIA and similar outside groups don't have an agenda when it comes to development, you're kidding yourself. What about creating a non-profit, funded by the city working with the City government, the business community, the school district, outside advisors (there are a lot of good ones out there), and neighborhood reps from around the city. Keep the city council out of this. Let the non-profit guide the process with citizen input and you're likely to get a better result.

lunacydetector 9 years ago

that old guy's vision wasn't bad. the JW did a big spread on the guy's vision - though i don't understand why he is in favor of new urbanism but doesn't understand what smart growth is (when it is ONE AND THE SAME THING!).

anyway, i kinda liked his vision.

Charles L Bloss Jr 9 years ago

I have an idea, let's all move to Texas. I'm first. Thank you, Lynn

Charles L Bloss Jr 9 years ago

OMG I forgot to say why. No state income tax bleeding you dry. No $ 400 personal property tax to get a little sticker to go on your license tag. No high energy bills to keep from freezing your butt off in the winter. You will have air conditioning bills, though! After being there for a while, you get to speak with a nice southern drawl! Thank you, Lynn

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 9 years ago

I think everyone has been quite well exposed to your visions by now, Marion. You'll probably have more luck raising money for treatments to suppress them than you'll have in trying to sell them.

norm 9 years ago

Posted by just_another_bozo_on_this_bus (anonymous) on December 22, 2005 at 7:55 a.m. (Suggest removal)

Like your writing style better than Marion's, but otherwise it's just as pointlessly whiny, Norm.

I expect you're one of the "inner circle" dolts who does the thinking for the likes of the Gang of Three, just.

The same three who represent themselves as "progressive" but who are as bought and sold as any other slimy politico? The resources and thought exists in this community if the three didn't have the need to surrond themselves with bobbing heads. What insecurities they must struggle with such that they feel compelled to answer to a "steering cmte." of whatever sort.

Lawrence politics have been exclusionary for many, many years. Be it "right" or "left"; "red" or "blue".....no outsiders allowed and hence, no "outside ideas".

They'll wind up paying that $15k to an outfit who'll be puckering up to Booger's (wasn't he in a couple of movies about the Nerds, revenge, and all that....and wasn't he a lawyer or something?) backside so they can get another pick later on down the road.

Ah, same as it ever was.....there's something to be said for predictability but on the other hand, it'd sure be nice to have the real Lawrence back and this "new order" of Mallville west of Kasold banished to form it's own charter and such.

As we recall, the only qualified person to run for the City Commission this last run was David Holroyd. When this town has a City Commission running like a business such as what Holroyd most likely would have done, then's when we'll finally get some abstract, out of the box thinking and begin to crawl out of the mess created by expandist, soccer momist, diversity proclaiming, anti growthers who have forced a botched patched job on the rest of us.

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