To the editor:
Wetland mitigation west of Louisiana has wishful thinkers believing the South Lawrence Trafficway is a “done deal.” Others warn if KDOT loses in court, this restored wetland would become apartments or big box stores. Since the mitigation is located on floodway and floodplain, such scare tactics ring hollow.
What SLT proponents hope the public won’t comprehend is that their 32nd Street plan would bring eight to ten lanes of traffic through the nature boardwalk area that so many of our children have come to know in recent years.
Programs like monarch butterfly tagging and the Wetland Learners project have introduced thousands of elementary school kids to this special place. Many more people are now aware of what would be lost if a four- to six-lane truckway were routed through this area, with a relocated four-lane 31st Street right beside it.
Most think Baker University controls the fate of this project, despite objections from Native Americans with connections to Haskell and its history. In truth, the fate of the SLT may rest with Kansas University. Back in the 1950s, KU received 20 acres when Haskell’s campus was raped and pillaged for about two-thirds of its land base.
That small plot near the intersection of 31st and Haskell Avenue sits at a critical spot along the planned “32nd Street” route. Without KU’s collaboration, that SLT plan is dead. If KDOT tries to use eminent domain KU should return the land to Haskell, rendering it federal property again, beyond state jurisdiction.