City commission race 2007
City commission race
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- Retail stance divides field (03-27-07)
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- Outlooks on retail issues differ (03-27-07)
- Candidate survey explores potential projects(03-23-07)
- More on the 2007 City Commission race Â»
A new open-air downtown market. Expanded affordable housing options. A Twin Rivers recreation trail. All those ideas and several more have been presented by Lawrence City Commission candidates as new projects the community should consider.
The six candidates for the City Commission spelled out ideas for new amenities as part of a questionnaire by the Lawrence Chamber of Commerce. The chamber recently released results of the questionnaire.
The election is April 3. There are three at-large seats on the City Commission.
Here's a look at how candidates responded when asked about improvements to community amenities.
Bush said he was not focused on adding many amenities in the near term. Instead, he said the community should focus on maintaining and enhancing what it has, and assessing what our needs are versus our "desires or wants."
Bush was the lone candidate to say he did not think affordable housing was a weakness in the community. He said many community leaders defined affordable housing as homes in the price range of $120,000 to $140,000. Bush said he thought there were adequate homes available in that range.
Affordable housing should be addressed by making infill development more cost-effective, Chestnut said. He said the current city approval process to rehabilitate homes in older neighborhoods is "long and complex."
He also said the school board should look at increasing vocational and technical training opportunities. The community also should continue exploring the need for an inpatient mental health unit.
Chestnut said some of the city's recreational facilities were lacking. He said the city park system and swimming pools were good, but that there hadn't been enough investment made in other recreational facilities in the last 20 years. He stopped short, however, of saying he would support new taxes to improve recreational facilities. Instead, he said he wanted to see the results of a city survey to determine what recreational needs residents see.
Dever said the community needs to increase affordable housing options by creating incentives to allow builders to develop more densely. He also said the city needs to encourage partnerships between the high schools and universities to create more vocational training opportunities. Creating citywide, wireless Internet access also would be a good goal for the city, Dever said.
Dever said he thought many of the new amenities could be paid for through private sector investments or grants.
Highberger, an incumbent commissioner, wants to create a funding system that would allow the city to tackle additional affordable housing projects. He supports lobbying for state legislation that would allow the city to increase the tax charged on all new mortgages filed in the city. He also supports zoning changes that would allow builders to develop higher-density neighborhoods, as long as they include a certain number of homes that are part of an affordable housing program.
Highberger also said he wants the community to develop a Two Rivers Trail linking the Kansas and Wakarusa rivers. He said that project should be done in conjunction with the redevelopment of the former Farmland Industries site to ensure that industrial space and green space are developed in tandem.
Maynard-Moody said she would like to see one block of Massachusetts Street shut down to traffic one night per month during the summer to allow for a downtown open market and street fair environment. She also said the city should seek federal transportation grants to develop promenades and trails along the southern banks of the Kansas River. She also supports higher downtown parking fines to fund a greater police presence in downtown.
Improvements to infrastructure in older parts of town also should be made to discourage the migration of residents to newer neighborhoods, Maynard-Moody said.
Schauner, an incumbent commissioner, said he thought any major new amenities should be approved directly by voters because they likely will require an increase in sales or property taxes. Schauner said he thought it was important to have a "concentrated review" of city expenses to determine if the city could shift any of its current expenses toward new amenities.