Letters to the Editor

Flood will come

October 18, 2007


To the editor:

Something about flat land attracts bulldozers. The silver lining of the great flood of 1951 has been the restraint of big and foolish development in the floodplain and, consequently, the conservation of the best farm soil in Kansas.

That's all over now. The planning staff at City Hall has recommended approval of an industrial park on the Pine family farm. The Planning Commission meeting is set for Oct. 24. This is the tipping point, folks. Our green northern gateway is about to become our industrial bottoms.

Read about floods at ks.water.usgs.gov/Kansas/pubs/fact-sheets/fs.041-01.html#HDR4. The experts agree that the 1951 flood can occur again. According to the U.S. Geological Survey, "Damage caused by flooding will vary by location depending on the amount of development in the flood plain." The flood in 1844 was 5 feet higher than in 1951 but was pre-development and therefore not a disaster. In 1993, levees failed up and down the Missouri. Our own river came within a foot of overtopping the dikes in Kansas City, Kan. - a whisker shy of becoming a billion-dollar disaster.

Everyone says that development in the flood plain is inevitable. It is not inevitable. It is not smart. In fact, it is not even legal without action by our City Commission to change zoning. What is inevitable, and beyond argument, is the next great flood. The disaster remains optional.

Charles NovoGradac,



huntershaven 10 years, 5 months ago

Those who wish to build and develop and urbanize do not care in the least about future potential flood damage. They only care about immediate money generation. Kansas hypercapitalists are no better or worse than Missouri hypercapitalists who developed the Chesterfield, Missouri river bottoms that were inundated by the Great Flood of 1993. They all believe that any losses will be covered by government bailout.

Personally, I think those who wish to build in a clearly evident floodplain should have to deal with the consequences without any safety net.

However, in the end those who only care about profit will win out and the taxpayers will be the one who have to pay the piper.

By the way, I am not against all development and growth, only foolishly pursued forms of them.

nettieb 10 years, 5 months ago

None of this matters, because Jesus is going to make it flood again anyway. Then we are all doomed.

Janet Lowther 10 years, 5 months ago

You know, some of this should have been addressed years ago: IIRC that land has been earmarked for future industrial development for decades.

Never mind the fact that anyone with a lick of sense wouldn't even think about building a multi-megabuck facility there. The fact is there are plenty of lotus eaters which don't have a lick of sense running companies. Add to that the fact that the Feds encourage such stupidity by providing flood insurance for locations in which no commercial insurance company would take the risk and you have the makings of an eventual disaster.

Bubbles 10 years, 5 months ago

The Netherlands are almost exclusively built below sea level and Lawrence does not have the where with all to prepare for a 500 years flood?

Tony Kisner 10 years, 5 months ago

Looks like Chuck will not be an investor in the project.

Jack Hope III 10 years, 5 months ago

These developers have one heck of a racket.

They go in, build crappy buildings, and then sell them to a bunch of suckers who get stuck holding the bill ten years later when the building falls apart, the flood comes, or the promises of further development don't pan out and they are left in a ghost town.

I just don't trust these developers. They come in with lots of promises, build something, make a ton of money, and then leave without any responsibility for the property they just built. Then, if someone sues them, they declare bankruptcy and reorganize under another name. It's the tax payers who end up covering the bill.

How much does the city pay for putting in the utilities and roads to these new developments? How much of my tax dollars will go towards the building of new and larger levees in North Lawrence? The city did a study that called for millions of dollars in improvements to the pumping stations in North Lawrence. Is the city willing to tack those fees onto the taxes of this development project? What about other development projects on K-10 and west 6th street? Are taxes and fees from those projects going to help upgrade the levees?

The commission seems to be willing to allow huge development in the short term at the expense of long term sustainability. The shame of it all is that a bunch of poor people in North Lawrence will probably get screwed by this. And ten years from now, the present day developers and commissioners will be long gone, safe on a hill somewhere -- probably in Overbrook because Lawrence will be over-developed.

snowWI 10 years, 5 months ago

I SUPPORT economic development but NOT in the floodplain. Prime agricultural land should stay that way in the floodplain areas. The taxpayers should not have to pay for speculative gambling by greedy developers.

ranger73 10 years, 5 months ago

Gee-I'm glad all this opposition was there when Aberdeen Apts, Sunflower Elementary School, SW Jr. High was built BELOW the Clinton Lake Dam Spillway. In the Wakarusa Flood Plain.

introversion 10 years, 5 months ago

The plan to build some sh*tty industrial park on Pine's land sucks.

At least when it flops like all the rest of the industrial or retail space in town lately, the Pines will be stuck looking at it from across the street.

Bubbles 10 years, 5 months ago

The area in question has been predominately a sod farm. The same type of evil sod that is on golf course.

I thought liberals hated the chemically treated, evil sod on a golf course.

Confrontation 10 years, 5 months ago

Is this what happens when you take Jesus out of Noah's Arc?

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