Now that the 8-foot neon Lawrence sign has returned home to the Burlington Northern Santa Fe depot, the question is what to do with it.
The sign with blue capital letters spelling out “LAWRENCE” had been missing for about a month. A day after a story about its disappearance appeared in the Journal-World, a caller reported to the newspaper that it could be found in Martin Park, in northwest Lawrence.
Just over an hour later, the sign was delivered to Carey Maynard-Moody, president of the Depot Redux group.
It came in a Christmas tree box with a note wishing a “Merry Christmas” and “signed” Bill Self.
On Saturday morning, the newly recovered sign was on display at the east Lawrence train depot as Depot Redux board members sat nearby discussing what should become of it.
They agreed it should be kept safely in storage until Amtrak moved forward with its upgrades to re-brand the train station.
The missing sign put in jeopardy Amtrak’s plan to restore the two 1950s neon Lawrence signs on the east and west side of the buildings. They also intend to install a new Lawrence sign on the south side depot facing the downtown.
With much of the support fixtures gone and the neon tubing missing, Maynard-Moody said the returned sign was in no shape to be put back in place immediately.
“The only thing returned were the letters, and there is more to a sign than letters,” she said.
Depot Redux, a community organization working to restore the 55-year-old train station, plans to discuss with city officials what security measures could be put in place on the north side of the building to prevent another theft.
While Maynard-Moody is thankful the sign is home, she said the group is still “pretty wounded.”
“Every time this depot is offended in this way, it hurts the entire community,” she said.