Douglas County commissioners said Wednesday that they want to help facilitate an organization that would make Lawrence the management headquarters for the 41-county Freedom's Frontier National Heritage Area, but won't vote on the proposal until later.
Deanell Reece Tacha, chairwoman of the heritage area, made a presentation to the commission at its meeting Wednesday, but because it was an unexpected agenda item a vote was postponed.
"First, let's get on board with supporting the organization and concept," said Commissioner Charles Jones. "Lots of details will have to be worked on."
The proposal calls for formation of a nonprofit entity - Destination Management Inc. - that would be guided by representatives of the city, county, Lawrence Chamber of Commerce and the heritage area. The entity would provide cultural and historical resources to preserve history and traditions.
The Lawrence Convention and Visitors Bureau, under director Judy Billings, would lead the heritage area management staff as well as the visitors bureau staff under Destination Management.
Tacha said the Heritage Board of Trustees passed a resolution Tuesday to join the organization.
"I believe and the board (of trustees) believes that Lawrence and Douglas County are the
obvious place to call home for the heritage area, although it covers 41 counties," said Tacha, a U.S. Court of Appeals judge.
Tacha presented the proposal with Billings and Lavern Squier, president and chief executive officer of the Lawrence Chamber of Commerce.
"It is an evolutionary move on our part to invest in the future," Squier said.
The heritage area was created in October by Congress and President Bush. The designation will help market the area for tourists because of its Civil War-era history. A team from National Geographic will lead the development of a management plan for the area.
They will present their idea at the City Commission meeting Tuesday.
Other items on Wednesday's County Commission agenda:
- Commissioners decided to send a site plan revision for a Clinton Cove Subdivision No. 2 back to the city planning committee before approving it at the next meeting. The revisions include the expansion of ministorage and outdoor storage uses for the 18-acre property to include more storage buildings and covered parking spaces.
- Considered benefit district improvements to North 1300 Road and East 2100 Road near Eudora. A couple is interested in paying $400,000 to chip and seal North 1300 Road from the end of the existing chip-and-sealed surface and to chip and seal East 2100 Road from North 1300 Road to their entrance. Commissioners decided the idea needs to be discussed with several other entities.
- Approved the 2008 budget.
- Approved a resolution providing that Douglas County levy an annual tax on all the assessed taxable tangible property of the county to build, maintain and operate a juvenile detention facility.
- Approved a resolution authorizing the levy of an annual tax for the special building and specifying the purpose of such a tax.