If ever there is to be a museum devoted to exploring all things vile about Missouri, Lawrence soon will have the perfect intersection for it.
Lawrence city commissioners at their Tuesday evening meeting unanimously agreed to rename the portion of 11th Street near Kansas University’s Memorial Stadium to Fambrough Drive, in honor of the former KU football coach who gained notoriety on both sides of the state line for his fiery speeches denouncing KU’s chief rival.
The section of 11th Street between Mississippi and Missouri streets will be renamed Fambrough Drive in the spring. The change actually will create not only an intersection of Fambrough and Missouri but also an intersection of Fambrough Drive and Fambrough Way. KU officials already had planned on naming the private street just west of the stadium to Fambrough Way, in memory of the coach who died in September.
Both streets are tentatively scheduled to be unveiled as part of a ceremony at KU’s spring football game in April.
Fambrough was best known for his frequent tales regarding Missouri, the raider William Quantrill and the fierce rivalry between Jayhawks and Tigers that Fambrough experienced first as a player at KU in the 1940s and then during two stints as head coach in the 1970s and 1980s.
But city commissioners were told Tuesday — about two dozen people showed up for the item — that Fambrough’s largest impact on the community likely was the unwavering love that he showed for the city and the university.
“Don probably had as much positive influence on my life as anyone,” said Joe Flannery, a longtime friend of Fambrough’s and the president of Weaver’s Department Store. “No matter what happened in his career at KU, his love for the university and Lawrence never wavered. I think it would inspire the thousands of people who knew Don whenever we look at this sign.”
But the idea did face some opposition. Four members of the public spoke against the idea, all saying that the renaming of such a short section of street would create confusion.
“I can tell you that it is very confusing already to give direction and to find our location,” said Janet Campbell of Kansas Public Radio and the Audio Reader Network, which has its offices just west of where Fambrough Drive would turn back into 11th Street. “I respect the intent but very strongly oppose the change.”
Commissioners largely were unswayed but did direct staff members to look at designing a street sign that would have 11th Street on it in smaller letters under Fambrough’s name.
“Someone said we don’t want to confuse future generations, but I have faith that they’ll be less confused than we are,” City Commissioner Hugh Carter said. “I think they’ll find their way on Fambrough Drive.”
The city’s public works department estimated the cost of changing the name of the street will be about $200 for signs and other materials.
In other news, commissioners:
• Approved a request to eliminate on-street parking on the north side of 12th Street between Indiana and Mississippi streets. Commissioners were told the parking situation could make it difficult for emergency vehicles to access the area.
• Agreed to initiate a text amendment that would loosen the on-street parking standards for boarding houses of at least 4,500 square feet in size and that are on certain sized lots in multifamily zoning districts, like the Oread neighborhood. The proposed change now will go to the Lawrence-Douglas County Planning Commission for consideration, likely in March.