It is interesting that within a relatively short timeframe, Lawrence city commissioners wrested control of development of the former Farmland fertilizer plant site on the east edge of Lawrence away from Douglas County commissioners and then denied Wal-Mart the right to build a store at the northwest corner of Sixth Street and Wakarusa Drive.
How is the city going to pay the costs of developing the Farmland site? Granted, they will get some money to try to eliminate toxins left at the site from the fertilizer operation, but who is to pay the rest of the sure-to-come substantial costs? City taxpayers or who? This is a giant question now in the lap of the city.
At about the same time, these same commissioners denied Wal-Mart the right to build a large retail facility at the site that is zoned for business. The company would have hired many employees, would have provided extra income for many families and would have spun off added taxes for the benefit of the entire community.
Do current city leaders have something against large retail businesses? Are they opposed to any major developments other than in downtown Lawrence to "protect" downtown? How do they intend to generate more money for Lawrence to pay for many city needs? Is the answer just to add more taxes on local residents and continue to make it difficult for new business and industry to locate in the city?
What happens if a large, perhaps even a "giant" company wants to locate at the Farmland site? What if a group of retailers might like to locate there? Will they be denied in an effort to "protect downtown"? Or will city commissioners, by that time, be so hungry for new jobs, a way to pay for development of the land or new tax revenues for the city or will the political scene have shifted enough to cause these same commissioners to find some excuse to OK such a project?
What if one of the applicants for such a building permit were Wal-Mart, that company which is supposed to be so bad and brings nothing good to the community?