To the editor:
The June 13 Journal-World presented news that the city plans to create new outdoor gallery, exhibition and performance space for the Lawrence Arts Center (so far so good!). However, the space is the site of the current Salvation Army building, south of the LAC. Curiously, this deal is being arranged precisely when the 900 N.H. hotel project is being debated north of the LAC. That proposal has been turned down unanimously three times by the Historical Resources Commission and has seen massive negative opinion from the nearby East Lawrence neighborhood and national historical district.
However, the LAC deal is apparently contingent upon approval of two large downtown building projects — 900 N.H. and another planned north of Ninth Street. Both are proposed by development moguls Compton and Treanor; according to the Journal-World, they “would play key roles” in funding the $1 million acquisition. Money makes the world go ‘round, but it appears to me that money is also going to bring city approval around. If these deals go forward as planned, the city is clearly selling out to big-money development.
Why not put the open-air cultural space north of LAC and solve two problems at once? I am sure that funding can come from somewhere — maybe from the people of Lawrence who do not want to see two huge buildings next to downtown? After all, with the tax increment financing being requested, we will pay for it anyway! Let’s hope the city can act with integrity and not sell out completely.