Archive for Saturday, May 23, 2009

Back downtown

Bringing the Fourth of July fireworks back downtown is the right move.

May 23, 2009

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There’s nothing wrong with trying something new, but it’s also good to be able to recognize that the old way wasn’t so bad after all.

That seems to be what happened with planning for the Lawrence Jaycees trademark Fourth of July fireworks display.

Citing safety concerns associated with having the fireworks so close to the Kansas River, the Jaycees decided last year to move the display to the dam at Clinton Lake, west of Lawrence. This year, the display will come back — a little further from the river — but back in the central part of the city.

The fireworks will be ignited from the north side of the river, but closer to the Kansas River bridges to facilitate viewing from Constant Park, Watson Park and other downtown locations. Some Lawrence old-timers would have liked to see the Jaycees step back a little further to the days when the display was held in Kansas University’s Memorial Stadium, but since that doesn’t seem to be in the cards, downtown is the next best thing.

The community owes another debt of thanks to the “Lawrence Originals,” a group of local nonchain restaurants that is helping finance the fireworks and will be selling food in Watson Park before the display. This is the same group that instituted the Lawrence GiveBack card program, which benefits local non-profit agencies. The combination of food, live music and fireworks should make for a fun community event.

People coming to the festivities shouldn’t have the same kind of traffic backups experienced at Clinton Lake last year, and municipal parking lots throughout downtown should provide ample parking within a few blocks of the event. City officials also might consider using T buses to facilitate access to the parks.

Last year’s stated concern that having the fireworks so close to the river posed a safety hazard seemed a bit overstated, but directing viewers to Watson Park should alleviate that concern.

The Jaycees had their reasons for trying a move to Clinton Lake last year, but we’re glad they’re bringing the display back downtown. What better place to celebrate our nation’s birthday than downtown, Lawrence’s historical center.

Comments

Richard Heckler 6 years, 2 months ago

Yes this should be a fun event. Nationwide people are rehabiltating their downtowns thus a move back to real life.

Demographic trends now favor downtown

Growth across the country moves away from suburban and exurban fringe

" Downtown shopping districts, meanwhile, will benefit from increased investment and more proximate residents. If we assume, as many economists do, that the country is "over-retailed," some downtown development plans based on more shopping will stall, but the center will still prosper relative to the fringe — and more businesses might find the downtown storefront affordable."

Retailers are the most obviously affected by these trends. For decades, locating a store in a mall on the fringe rather than downtown had a lot of obvious advantages: plenty of easy parking, tons of drive-by traffic from big-box neighbors, and newer buildings with better infrastructure.

These benefits won't disappear overnight. Over the long run, though, they will diminish in importance, especially if more big retail chains and shopping-mall operators go out of business. Downtown shopping districts, meanwhile, will benefit from increased investment and more proximate residents. If we assume, as many economists do, that the country is "over-retailed," some downtown development plans based on more shopping will stall, but the center will still prosper relative to the fringe — and more businesses might find the downtown storefront affordable.

Indeed, the advantages of a good downtown location extend to many businesses that are not dependent on walk-in traffic. At NewWest.Net, our alley storefront with a prominent sign is probably one of our best bits of marketing. Every month, we host an art show as part of the downtown "First Friday" art walk, which brings a lot of people into the office and gives us a chance to chat them up about NewWest.Net. Most meetings don't require getting into a car. Our very effective Downtown Association offers kinship (which can lead to deals) with neighboring businesses.

Locating downtown is sometimes associated with the "buy local" movement — the idea that the community benefits if businesses and consumers spend their money with independent, locally owned businesses. But you don't have to buy into this ideologically to position yourself as the friendly, local alternative to the big national chain, and part of the way to do that is to locate in a cool space — in a historic building, say — rather than a sterile strip mall or office park.

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/30810275/

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