Archive for Thursday, November 2, 2006

Outside planning experts get glimpse of city’s vision

Not all residents agree on direction of growth

November 2, 2006

Advertisement

On Wednesday evening, Lawrence became a different place.

It became a city where every street has a bike lane. It was home to one of the country's first alternative energy industrial parks. It was the organic farming capital of the country.

Scattered throughout the city were public showers and restrooms where bikers could clean up after their morning commutes, and where homeless residents would be invited to sleep at night.

And not least of all, it was a city that wasn't overly concerned about new growth.

All those ideas and more came out at a town hall-style meeting designed to give a group of outside experts studying the city a glimpse of what community members want Lawrence to be in decades to come.

For many in the crowd of about 70 people, it was their chance to paint the town green.

"If we don't connect Lawrence to the Earth, it ultimately won't be sustainable," said Ken Lassman, a rural Lawrence resident.

The meeting was part of a three-day visit by a team of planners from the American Institute of Architects that is studying Lawrence. The group will be offering a report on how the city can ensure that its growth and development is done in a manner that can be sustained by future generations.

Environmental, social/educational and economic issues were all topics that city residents on Wednesday were asked to reflect on. A six-member team from the American Institute of Architects asked Lawrence residents at a town hall meeting to tell them what they would like to see in the community in coming decades. The team was gathering information for a report it will present to the City Commission.

Environmental, social/educational and economic issues were all topics that city residents on Wednesday were asked to reflect on. A six-member team from the American Institute of Architects asked Lawrence residents at a town hall meeting to tell them what they would like to see in the community in coming decades. The team was gathering information for a report it will present to the City Commission.

The six-member team got an earful about growth. Many of the people who spoke told the team that the city should concentrate less on adding more population and more businesses.

"What I see is that somehow growth has been equated with more growth equals more money," said Lawrence resident Marilyn Roy. "In the meantime, the downtown that I used to love has been turned into a tourist Mecca that I feel doesn't even belong to me anymore. And we have a western town that seems to be very separated from the rest of the community. Growth is really creating a division here."

Roy was one of several speakers who openly declared themselves "anti-growth." Others compared Lawrence's growth to a "cancer," or said that economic growth is "probably a prescription for our demise."

There weren't many in the crowd who stepped up to defend the city's growth pattern. Only two people out of approximately 35 speakers clearly expressed the need for the city to do more to promote growth in the future.

"To think that we won't grow or can oppose growth seems to be a very futile and unrealistic perspective to have," said Tim Herndon, a local architect who noted the rapid population growth of the planet during the last 150 years. "And these types of commercial uses are really what will help us pay for more green space, more bike lanes and many of the amenities that have been talked about tonight."

City Commissioner Boog Highberger, who helped organize the efforts to bring the team of planners to Lawrence, admitted that Wednesday's crowd probably wasn't a true representation of how the community felt about growth.

"I was hoping for a little broader cross-section of people and viewpoints," said Highberger, who said he may make a point to expose the team to some counter viewpoints before it presents its final report.

Lawrence is one of eight communities that the architecture institute has chosen to study this year. The study is part of a program that looks at how "sustainable" communities are, which is a way of measuring whether the city's growth and development can feasibly continue for future generations.

The team is expected to deliver a preliminary report to the City Commission at a 3:30 p.m. event on Friday at the Lawrence Arts Center, 940 N.H. The group also is inviting more public comment from 8 a.m. to noon today. Team members will talk individually with community members in the Crystal Ballroom of the Eldridge Hotel, 701 Mass.

The study is not expected to cost the city any money. All members of the team are volunteering their time. The institute has agreed to cover $15,000 in expenses for the team. If expenses run more than that, the city and the Lawrence Chamber of Commerce each have agreed to provide $2,500 in funding.

The planning team

The six-member team from the American Institute of Architects that is studying Lawrence includes a mix of planners. Here are the team members:

  • William Gilchrist, director of the department of planning, engineering and permits for Birmingham, Ala.
  • Charles Downham, project manager for Nashville Planning Studio in Nashville, Tenn.
  • Karina Ricks, transit oriented development coordinator, District of Columbia Office of Planning, Washington, D.C.
  • Henry Kosarzycki, program manager of Wisconsin Department of Commerce Division of Safety and Buildings, Waukesha, Wis.
  • Amy Smith, landscape architecture and urban design specialist with KPS Group Inc., Birmingham, Ala.
  • Caroline Lobo, environmental analyst, Orcutt/Winslow Partnership Architects, Phoenix.

Comments

Confrontation 8 years, 5 months ago

"Scattered throughout the city were public showers and restrooms where bikers could clean up after their morning commutes, and where homeless residents would be invited to sleep at night."

Seriously? Would you even get near one of those showers? Athlete's Foot or Plantar Warts, anyone?

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 8 years, 5 months ago

There were 70 people at the meeting, each with a different view, Ceallach. "They" did not have one little sad, pathetic dream. They had 70 different sad, pathetic dreams.

If you want your own sad, pathetic dream included in the formulation of the master sad, pathetic dream/plan, I suggest you communicate it to the study team, either in person at a meeting, or in writing.

Rhoen 8 years, 5 months ago

In some cases, our "growth" blight might have been spawned by a type of short-sighted, self-absorbed local who has done well enough here during their productive years to now spend large blocks of time sitting with similar fat-cat types around well-positioned tables at the country club or The Eldridge (while other people do the real work that keeps the town running), cooking up ways to pull more resources out of the community while putting back in as little as possible. Land speculation could sound like a really fun way to spend the golden years.

Never mind that this speculation game may be at odds with constraints already in place to allow for productive development. There are ways to deal with any annoying interference that may arise if other people assert that a development plan violates their petty needs and insignificant property rights. With enough like-minded friends on local boards and commissions, it could be possible to get around those goofy codes, ordinances, laws, and moral imperatives long enough to slap up and sell a few high-priced fiber-board mansions in developments with glamorous names.

In these cases, the "cancer" metaphor is totally apt. The only up-side to this tumor analogy is that once the cancer becomes malignant enough to kill its host, the tumor dies as well.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 8 years, 5 months ago

"That the Kommission would have even presented this over-the-top proposal as a possibility to the public,"

There you go squealing like a stuck pig over something that didn't even happen.

monkeywrench1969 8 years, 5 months ago

Red neck

We are there we have priced out the workers. The people who get paid well for the same jobs are commuting to KC or Topeka or just moved there.

It has beenthis way since I was in college in the late 80s. We are a snobby community that want all the extras for entertainment and convienence, but don't want to pay the right price because of the transient work force (I mean students and immigrants who have begun working in many of our fast food, chinese and other resturants )

kshiker 8 years, 5 months ago

Unfortunately, the people who have a real stake in the future of Lawrence were not able to attend this forum because they were too busy commuting home from Topeka or Kansas City because this City Commission has made no effort whatsoever to attract new employment opportunities to Lawrence.

If you want to talk about protecting the so-called "good" jobs that are available downtown from the Darth Vader-esque invasion of chain retail stores, do you really think these existing downtown merchants pay more or offer better benefits than the chain stores who would open in west Lawrence???

As usual, the only input provided to this forum was from the so-called community activists who have nothing better to do on a Wednesday night and have all the time in the world to give input on these issues.

If you want growth again downtown and in East Lawrence, why don't you stop fighting any attempt by developers to actually build residential housing downtown (note the recent fiasco over the Harris development).

Lawrence is going to grow; its time to wake up and work with the development community to make sure it grows equitably and effectively.

Richard Heckler 8 years, 5 months ago

Three people out of the crowd came out and stated they were anti physical growth. I heard no one say they were anti fiscal growth. More retail growth does not necessarily produce additional jobs or additional revenue as it should.

More than one indicated a need for the upwardly mobile type salaried employment...good paying jobs. This alone would increase fiscal growth = new economic growth.

Insofar as new growth creating a major division it is more about unplanned growth creating a division. Unplanned growth is about a real estate speculator buying a section of property and deciding what will happen when it will happen on that piece of property. It should not happen that way. If the idea does not fit a city plan or land use desination then it should not fly. Land speculating is about risk and it is not the taxpayers or city government responsibility to insure an investor in land makes any margin of profit on that investment. It's a lot like playing Wall Street...sometimes it works sometimes it doesn't.

Building new retail when local retail dollars are maxed out likely will not additional new economic growth. It merely stretches existing retail dollars much thinner and a business somewhere could be forced to shut it's doors.

If at all possible on new construction perhaps showers could be included in rest rooms for walking,biking and jogging commuters. This is not unheard of. This is all about preparing for much higher gasoline prices, reducing air pollution and keeping healthy. Healthy people are more productive on the job.

Godot 8 years, 5 months ago

Bozo, the kneejerkers on this forum squealed about the, not $70 million dollar library, but up to $110,000,000 library, because it was incredibly stupid. It used taxpayer funds to redevelop downtown, while allowing the developers to maintain control over the property and the library. It was beyond extravagant, it was outrageous. That the Kommission would have even presented this over-the-top proposal as a possibility to the public, and to go so far as to go to the effort to put the proposals on the city website, is proof enough that they are clueless.

This dream of bike paths on all city streets, and green space every two blocks and showers and sleeping space for homeless is just another luxury that this under employed, over taxed, and under-repaired community cannot afford.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 8 years, 5 months ago

"The only real solution is to vote for a new City Commission in April that will actually work with the development community rather than antagonize it at every turn."

They asked to work with the development community on proposals for the library, and when they came back with $70 million proposals, the kneejerkers on this forum squealed like stuck pigs.

Kelly Powell 8 years, 5 months ago

Well, i for one, started a new job....the one question I would ask would of been....will the build a commuter train to shuttle in all us plebes who do the service and menial work....Because the way it's going, lawrence will price itself out of workers(other then the students working for beer money)

Kat Christian 8 years, 5 months ago

The showers and beds are for the "additional" homeless Lawrence will create by NOT raising the minimum wage and paying a living wage to workers. Natural gas will be higher next year. Who knows about gasoline for cars what that will be, but water is also on the rise too. I think Electric has already risen. Rents will go up AGAIN - so we actually need someplace the additional homeless can shower and sleep - I think we'll need it.

x96merrill3 8 years, 5 months ago

Reality_Check---What makes you think the Komission doesn't read the posts? What makes you believe that the opinions on this board are wasted? Do you think elected officials sit in a cell all day and don't pay attention to what people are saying, thinking and doing? I think you will find that they often watch TV, listen to the radio, read the paper, and even check in on chats. I also think that they are bright enough to figure out that 70 Piece Corp/Greeniacs speaking out at a meeting held downtown during a work day is not an even representation of the entire population.

kshiker 8 years, 5 months ago

Logrithmic --

I can't think of anything more useful or insightful than attending a forum with 70 apparently extremely "intelligent" citizens to discuss showers and sleeping facilities for homeless citizens and mandatory bike trails on all roads. Apparently I was "afraid" of hearing the absolutely amazing ideas that were discussed.

The more correct answer is that I was probably "afraid" of wasting my time on a Wednesday night giving input to a study that will probably not solve any development-related problems or offer any real solutions to our city's growing needs.

The only real solution is to vote for a new City Commission in April that will actually work with the development community rather than antagonize it at every turn.

City: "We want to negotiate with Wal-Mart."

Wal-Mart: "OK, let's settle the lawsuit. We will design a building which meets all of the demands of your professional planning staff."

City: "We changed our mind. Please reinitiate a very costly lawsuit against us. We will now spend another large sum of the city's money to fight you for something that will probably end up the way you just offered!"

Godot 8 years, 5 months ago

Here is a suggestion for the AIA. Do not waste your time trying to stifle growth where there was once a bustling economy.

Transform a dying community into a thriving one. Buy a city in southeast or western Kansas and make it your laboratory. You can get the whole thing for less than the value of the time you donated as a gift to Lawrence to "show us the light."

It would be so much easier to transform one of those communities than it would be Lawrence. Think about it. The only people who might stand in your way are the septuagenarians who populate the place and are on their way out. Surely you can win them over.

There is the path to your success. Transform Chanute into the cultural mecca of the midwest, and you will have sealed your fame.

Ceallach 8 years, 5 months ago

When Lawrenceville finally becomes Pleasantville, will LJW be able to print photos in color?

fed_up 8 years, 5 months ago

Maybe putting in the bike lanes is for the future fat kids of Lawrence in case the USD 497 putting all of our kids on a diet doesn't work. Instead of giving them recess now, just make them bicycle everywhere later? ha ha ha JUST KIDDING!!

ASBESTOS 8 years, 5 months ago

Hippie Crystal Gripping, granola chomping rationalizations.

That world perceived in the 60's by some of the "visionaries" is not something to aspire to.

Ceallach 8 years, 5 months ago

bozo: aren't you just feeling fiesty today! We have been aware of this scenario, vision, dream, call it what they will, it all comes back to the commission. The commission's vision is all that will be given serious consideration and most of us know that. The article apparently excluded many of those "70 different" dreams.

I too am unable to attend meetings, I must work to pay my taxes as a Lawrence property owner. The Masters' read - three commissioners plan will not come to fruition because the majority of our residents are relatively sane. Also, if no expense to the city is expected, then why in the same paragraph did they state the amount the city would pay if needed?

Ceallach 8 years, 5 months ago

Don't worry Confrontation, it's just a "dream." Their sad, pathetic, little dream of a new OZ. It will never hold up in the daylight of reality! It's hard to read the copy without rolling your eyes at the "vision's" total lack of connection to the real world. If that is the future of Lawrence many of us will be looking elsewhere.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 8 years, 5 months ago

Just a suggestion-- if you want your views included in this report, try sending an email outlining them to City Manager Corliss, City Commisioner Highberger and/or the city planning department.

The most suitable subject would probably be "sad, pathetic visioning ideas."

(Yes, I am a rocket scientist.)

lunacydetector 8 years, 5 months ago

if "we" truly plan for the future we must keep in mind that in the future the majority of citizens will be geriatric. geriatrics won't want to walk long distances everywhere because it will be too difficult and they will be too weak and frail to ride bicycles.

so, what was this "townhall" meeting wanting to accomplish? that about 70 people don't have a clue of what they are talking about?

wheatridge 8 years, 5 months ago

If we want to become the organic farming capital of the world maybe we can ask the City Commisioners to invite Smith Center to become our sister city?

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 8 years, 5 months ago

"geriatrics won't want to walk long distances everywhere because it will be too difficult and they will be too weak and frail to ride bicycles."

Good thing we have a bus system, right, luny?

kshiker 8 years, 5 months ago

Bozo --

You truly are pathetic. You have posted over 3,700 comments to news articles on this website! Do you have a job and, if you do, when do you find the time to actually get work done? Does it really take eight hours a day to think of those incredibly witty replies?

Amazingly productive individuals like yourself are probably the main reason why so many businesses are wanting to relocate to Lawrence.

packrat 8 years, 5 months ago

I find it insulting to the homeless that the Kommission did not find a way to provide city financed apratments or group homes for the homeless. No one should be forced to sleep in a shower at night.

Commenting has been disabled for this item.