Archive for Friday, September 9, 2011

Town Talk: Land near Clinton State Park undergoes major tree cutting; ‘graffiti wall’ coming to downtown; preparing for 2,500 bikers

September 9, 2011


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News and notes from around town:

• Visitors to Clinton Lake State Park may notice a change in the landscape. Large-scale tree clearing has been taking place on privately owned ground just north of the state park office. Park Manager Jerry Schecher said the 75 acres once was densely forested and was robust wildlife habitat. Now, Schecher said, essentially all trees on the property have been removed, except for a row along the edge of the property line. According to county records, Lawrence builder Mike Stultz owns the property. I tried a couple of times over the last few days to get in touch with Stultz, but I had no luck. According to the Lawrence-Douglas County Planning Office, Stultz hasn’t filed any plans for a new development at the site — which I believe is designated as a residential area in the county’s long-range plans. Schecher said he also hasn’t been notified of any development plans for the property. But he said he is concerned about erosion, drainage issues, and the impact the cutting has had on wildlife habitat next to the park.

“As a steward of the environment, I am concerned about the practice of clear-cutting and burning old standing timber,” Schecher said.

I don’t really know what is going on here, but there is an interesting twist to all of this. If you remember, a divided Lawrence City Commission and Douglas County Commission this summer passed a new “Environmental Chapter” that was added to the city and county’s long-range plan. That chapter directs the city and county’s planning office to create new regulations that would “preserve and sustain woodlands within Douglas County.” The chapter also makes several other references to protecting wooded areas including a statement that calls for “environmentally sensitive site design practices which minimize the unnecessary physical and visual impacts upon the surrounding landscape caused by removal of woodlands.”

I don’t have any way of knowing whether the recent tree-clearing activity was done in an attempt to get ahead of any forthcoming regulations because I was unable to reach the property owner. But the timing does bring up some issues. I’ve also received a report that significant tree clearing has occurred on a site in the northwest part of the county. I’ll be checking that out and will let you know if I find anything interesting. City commissioners approved the Environmental Chapter on a 3-2 vote (Amyx and Carter opposed) in June. County commissioners approved it on a 2-1 vote (Flory opposed) earlier in the summer. So the chapter is an official part of Douglas County’s plan now, but it is important to remember that the chapter didn’t create any new regulations or prohibitions when it comes to tree clearing. It just creates as a goal that the city and county should create such regulations in the future. It will be interesting to watch this issue develop. Will the county see an increase in wide-scale tree clearing by property owners who fear new regulations may impact their ability to develop their property? Also, will all of this re-ignite the debate on the environmental chapter? There are many rural landowners — and I’m sure some urban ones too — who believe that government regulations about what trees can be cut down and which ones must be saved are a serious intrusion on private property rights. The Lawrence Chamber of Commerce vigorously opposed the chapter on the grounds that it had not been adequately explained to rural property owners and that the private property rights issues had not been fully debated. The issue of protecting woodlands is just one of several addressed in the chapter. Other areas where new regulations are called for include:

  1. Codes that would limit what type of development could occur near streams.
  2. Local protections for wetlands that would be in addition to the state and federal protections.
  3. Ordinances that would protect undisturbed and undeveloped pieces of plant and wildlife habitat.
  4. Codes that would protect prime agricultural soils from development.

• Visitors to Downtown Lawrence may notice a change in scenery as well this week. A temporary wooden wall — 24 feet long and 8 feet high — is scheduled to be erected today in the vacant lot just south of the Granada and the Einstein Bagel location on Massachusetts Street. Artists will be painting graffiti art on the wall all week. This is leading up to an event on Saturday, Sept. 17, at the Granada that will be a celebration of music and art. The event, dubbed Grande Granada Gala, will feature a performance by the hip-hop artist Chali 2na of Jurassic 5. (I think it is pronounced Charlie Tuna, although I thought he still was with Starkist.) The event also will feature a gallery showing of artwork inside the Granada, and artists will be doing live “impromptu painting” of the wall most of the day on Saturday.

“I really just want to see more people doing arts shows, lively shows that attract all sorts of people,” said Brendan Martinez, a Lawrence artist who is working on the show with fellow artists Jordan Tarrant and Erok Johanssen. “I don’t want art to be such a secluded thing.”

• Get out the leather and crank up the Steppenwolf. Bikers are ready to invade Lawrence. Oh, not those type of bikers. We’re talking about bicyclists. Get out the Lance Armstrong posters and spandex, I guess. Regardless, there will be a lot of bicyclists in Lawrence, not this weekend but the weekend of Saturday Sept. 17. The city is expecting 2,500 bicyclists to be in town for the weekend as part of the Bike MS Event. Bikers will be setting up a Biker Village in South Park beginning on Saturday, Sept. 17, and lasting into Sunday. Massachusetts Street will be closed to traffic from 5 a.m. on that Saturday until noon on Sunday. Some bikers will be camping in the park, but many won’t. The Lawrence Convention and Visitors Bureau reports that 16 Lawrence hotels are completely booked on Saturday as result of the event, which was scheduled so that it would occur on a weekend when KU football is playing on the road. The event will begin at the Garmin headquarters in Olathe (update: Some will be coming from a location in Topeka too) and will overnight in Lawrence before riders return to the Garmin site on Sunday. The Biker Village will feature a Boulevard Hospitality Tent, which will be serving up beer and live music. (Beer, dancing and spandex. Who needs Dennis Hopper and his crowd?) The Lawrence restaurant Ingredient also will host a music and food festival on the east side of the park on Saturday, and other food vendors will be set up to sell to the crowd. Look out Lawrence, I’m finding my biker shorts.


melott 6 years, 6 months ago

Will traffic regulations be enforced?

grimpeur 6 years, 6 months ago

No. It will be a normal day of motorist lawlessness, with drivers hopping into their cars, deliberately driving alone to wherever it is just coz they want to, burning as much gas as possible, and intentionally creating congestion, pollution and damage to the roads as they blithely cruise through red lights and stop signs, block crosswalks and intersections, speed, tailgate, fail to yield or signal, and otherwise generate the type of road mayhem that even 2500 cyclists couldn't hope to match even if they tried.

But I'm with you: if they would start to enforce some of these laws wrt motorists, we might get to a point where the real dangers caused by cyclists would be more than a negligible blip on the screen of road problems. But we're not close to that point today, so it's pretty silly to pretend otherwise. (Don't let that stop ya, though. Silly can be funny.)

somebodynew 6 years, 6 months ago

Wow !! We can close Mass. on a Saturday for bikers, but it was such a big deal for a car show ???? I shocked, shocked mind you this didn't cause some Commissioners heartburn.

Getaroom 6 years, 6 months ago

This comment was removed by the site staff for violation of the usage agreement.

Mike Myers 6 years, 6 months ago

Sweet there's now 75 acres for Paul Werner's fake grass to be planted!

dogsandcats 6 years, 6 months ago

Marking calendar to remind myself to not try to drive anywhere on Sept 17.

ralphralph 6 years, 6 months ago

The only law you cannot repeal is the law of unintended consequences.

Of COURSE the tree clearing is the resulting of impending regulations. If you want to be able to do anything with your land in the future, you MUST clear-cut it now ....... an overly destructive response to an overly intrusive and heavy-handed government intrusion.

Yes. Local government has caused, and exacerbated, the very harm they sought to prevent.

ralphralph 6 years, 6 months ago

"result of" ... what happened to the "edit" function?

hipper_than_hip 6 years, 6 months ago

Two comments: 1) it's an 80 acre parcel, and 2) the West of K-10 Plan future land use map designates this area to be very low density residential.

It is considered to be inside the urban growth area, and is currently zoned rural agricultural.

somedude20 6 years, 6 months ago

trees suck!!! the get in your way when you are walking and they wrap themselves around your car but I do like toothpicks though.

You think I am wrong about trees then watch The Evil Dead and see that trees hate women. Unlike Belly, I care not to feed the tree (and I don't like Rush's tree song either)

blindrabbit 6 years, 6 months ago

Maybe clearing the trees in anticipation of allowing farming of "ditch weed". It turns out this is the single most valuable crop in California. What a loss of taxable income! After the "good parts" are harvested the stems can be used to product bio-fuels, and the quail and gamebirds love the waste seed crop. A revival of the Kaw Valley Hemp Pickers of the 60's-70's may be on the horizon!

FlintlockRifle 6 years, 6 months ago

Did they find any ""OLD NUDIST" still lurking on this land???

blindrabbit 6 years, 6 months ago

Flint: Do you remember Sycamore Hollow and Donna?

Matt Kuhlman 6 years, 6 months ago

A temporary graffiti wall? Why don't they make the ground level of the parking garage a permanent legal graffiti wall? I had that idea years ago. It would give people an out-of-the-way place to put up their work which would divert them from randomly scrawling quick throw-ups all over the alleys like they already do, taggers and artists would do some amazing work if they had the time to make it without hurrying to keep from getting caught, and anything would be better to look at than plain gray concrete. If Lawrence is going to continue considering itself as "the city of the arts" why aren't they more forward thinking with projects that would really help Lawrence stand out as the creative capital of Kansas?

Matt Kuhlman 6 years, 6 months ago

To be clear, I'm talking about the ground level exterior wall of the garage, in the alley, that faces toward the backs of all the buildings along Mass. St., not inside the garage.

giveitback 6 years, 6 months ago

somedude. Stay put. Help is on the way. The Weeping Willows are the reason we are having all the floods back east.

FlintlockRifle 6 years, 6 months ago

B/rabbit I sure do , thanks for remindin me of the good ole days

FlintlockRifle 6 years, 6 months ago

B/rabbit I sure do , thanks for remindin me of the good ole days

bolshavik_vw 6 years, 6 months ago

Graffiti Wall that is an awesome idea. I would love to get in on that, does anyone know how? I am an artist, and this is right up my alley to get my work out there. Doing Graffiti Art is talented,detailed work that takes hours, and once done becomes a Masterpiece, it is not a crime, and it is also, so unique and can tell a story about the Artist, or where it is being done at. Tagging, is Gang related, should be taken seriously and those who do such, should face punishment for doing so. it also takes away from the beauty of art, and gives those of us who work hard on our art, a bad name. Art has been around for Centuries, and should be respected,cherished and definitly shown everywhere. Different types of art, come from different types of people. That is what makes us all unique, different and able to Self Express ourselves whether it is a Tattoo, or a Painting.

Richard Heckler 6 years, 6 months ago

Instead of going after senior citizens and building tons of retail that cannot support itself why not chase after the cyclist crowd.

Then build a solid industry around cycling and clean green homes that save money for owners leaving more expendable cash for fun and enjoyment.

Here's how I see it: More and more biking events combined with more and more music events such as festivals.

Instead of building more homes that never pay back the taxpayers the real estate executives could create tons of new wealth bringing concerts to Lawrence. Music pays back handsomely and cyclist love music,healthy food and the arts.

Think if Lawrence became one of the major cycling hubs in the nation if not the world. Jobs jobs jobs jobs jobs.

Music and Cycling payback taxpayers in an economic friendly kind of way. Neither demand much from taxpayers yet generate revenue religiously.

Kimberly Grosse 6 years, 6 months ago

I'd like to know what is going into the building being constructed on 23rd street. It's on the south side of the road (on the corner of Naismith I think- or close.. can't be Naismith.. Dillions is there) Anyone know? Thanks!

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