To the editor:
When I moved here in 1974, Lawrence was a pleasant town of 35,000-40,000 people with a low crime rate, a “student ghetto” and a nice downtown area. I loved going downtown to shop at the dime stores, buy doughnuts and cookies at Drake’s or Jennings bakeries and hardware supplies at Malott’s. Downtown was the heart of the city, the center of business activities for our local residents.
Today, walk any street downtown and look down at the pavement beneath your feet. Walk through the muraled breezeways. Try walking any of the alleyways between Vermont and New Hampshire, from Sixth to South Park. See the cigarette butts, trash and deteriorating concrete and asphalt.
Our “vibrant” downtown is deteriorating. It is dirty beyond belief. There are too many people, too much traffic — it’s not safe, nor a pleasant place to shop. In the rush to transform downtown from a local shopping district to a money-maker for the city’s treasury, we’ve lost sight of the importance of maintaining its infrastructure, its buildings and its beauty. Why? Small towns across Kansas with fewer resources than Lawrence have created unique shopping and dining spaces that respect the history of the town and give it character.
Lawrence administrators are the caretakers of our city. We, the residents, are its stewards. “Vibrant” downtowns are clean, cared for, healthy places to work and shop. Write some letters. Be part of saving Lawrence’s downtown environment, which has been too long overlooked.