To the editor:
The Sept. 2 Saturday Column and other recent articles regarding the status of Lawrence's downtown make some very good points about preserving our unique downtown and I support that, but for different reasons.
The history of downtown, its economic stability and the appeal to visitors are all important aspects to preserve. However, recently, downtown also has acquired some notoriety that may jeopardize its reputation and threaten the safety of those who visit during evening hours - in particular, recurring bar fights, the presence of weapons in public parking lots and the increasing number of homeless that have become part of the downtown landscape.
I have wondered for a very long time about the contradictions in referring to our "vibrant" downtown with the constant piles of trash, cigarette butts and other debris that clusters on long-neglected, cracked and dirty sidewalks and in doorways of many downtown businesses next to the beautiful planters along the new curbs and gutters.
Much of the daytime business comes from tourist trade - a niche market of folks with the kind of money to spend in specialty shops that excludes a significant portion of Lawrence residents. The nighttime business consists of food, alcohol and various entertainment that is limited in its draw to those seeking the "nightlife" that has brought some trouble to the area.
Rather than ask, "Do we want the downtown to become an entertainment district?" the real question is, "To whom does our downtown belong?"