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Archive for Friday, August 4, 2006

Appearance points

An effort to keep retail and commercial areas neat and clean may be more important than setting strict design standards.

August 4, 2006

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Much has been said and written in recent weeks about the appearance of buildings in Lawrence. Apparently, some people are so concerned about this matter that city commissioners recently approved a set of commercial design guidelines for new developments in the city. Developers will be required to submit a "palette" of proposed materials and colors to ensure "unity" among buildings in commercial projects as well as plans to accommodate existing trees and open space and other details.

Time will tell whether this is a good move and whether it will result in new and remodeled buildings looking too similar or having designs that reflect a particular time period. How about the changing likes and dislikes of those who review the plans and give a thumbs up or thumbs down?

The idea, apparently, is to have a more pleasing visual scene, or at least pleasing to a certain group of individuals. Again, time will tell, although the city seems to have done fairly well over the past 150 years without a specific Lawrence building style.

(Considering the current design emphasis, it is difficult to understand how the proposed addition to the former Carnegie Library at Ninth and Vermont streets can pass muster. Even the revised design revealed two weeks ago is ugly and disregards the architectural style of the original building.)

Getting away from the look, style, building materials etc., of buildings, how about the city, as well as individual merchants, giving far more attention to better housekeeping in the downtown area? Something needs to be done to encourage property owners and business people to pick up trash, sweep the walks and clean their windows.

The litter along some areas of Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Vermont streets does not speak well for Lawrence. In fact, it is a disgrace. One has to wonder whether some merchants would allow the front yards of their residences to look as messy and dirty as the area in front of their businesses.

There needs to be more pride in and attention to keeping the downtown area neat and clean.

Perhaps the Lawrence Chamber of Commerce or Downtown Lawrence Inc. could initiate an effort to encourage local merchants to do a better job of housekeeping.

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