News and notes from around town:
• Quick. When is Lawrence’s birthday? Several local historians think you did not answer quickly enough, and now talk is emerging about creating a new annual event that would celebrate the founding of Lawrence.
But better historical awareness isn’t the only motive behind the idea. The promoters are also hoping a new annual event could be held at Sesquicentennial Point, which would give a boost to the largely undeveloped 97-acre park near Clinton Lake Dam.
Local history enthusiast Bruce Roberts said the event could be billed as Founders Day. (Still haven’t figured it out? Here’s a hint, Lawrence’s birthday was on the day that it was founded.)
“We’re hoping that we can find a signature event that would be a good stepping off point to create more activity out at Sesquicentennial Point,” Roberts said.
The point — which is just a bit north and west of the city’s popular off-leash dog park in the Clinton Lake Outlet Area — has great views but not much else at the moment. Members of the city’s Sesquicentennial Committee raised funds to create a stone plaza area, with various stones sponsored by families or businesses to commemorate a specific year in the city’s history. Organizers are continuing to sell stones to commemorate every year through 2054, when city leaders will open a time capsule to commemorate its 200th birthday. (Hey, there’s another hint. Get out your abacus.)
By then promoters of Sesquicentennial Point are hoping the park has some basic amenities such as bathrooms and electricity. The site currently doesn’t have utilities extended to it, and it likely would cost more than $150,000 to do so.
Sesquicentennial Point fans aren’t asking the city to spend that type of money right now. But they are hoping something can be done to break a frustrating cycle.
“We are concerned that until we get some amenities, we won’t get much traffic out there,” said Clenece Hills, who served as president of Lawrence’s Sesquicentennial Commission. “And if we don’t get traffic out there, we won’t need amenities. It is kind of a circle.”
Point fans are thinking the first amenity could be a small stage area that could accommodate acoustic musical performances, history presentations, or be used as an outdoor classroom area for field trips and such. Hills thinks her group of about eight supporters could successfully raise the $5,000 or so to create a stage, if the city gives its blessing to the idea.
The city hasn’t yet done that, but Parks and Recreation leaders said they do want to study what could be done to jump start the Point project. Parks and Recreation leader Ernie Shaw said the department may want to consider purchasing a portable stage, rather than building something at the Point. He said several groups around town currently are renting portable stages for downtown events.
The city also will start promoting the Point a bit more aggressively. The park will be included in the city’s upcoming activities guide as an outdoor venue for weddings and other such events.
In the meantime, Hills and her group will start looking for partners to help create Founders Day, and to figure out exactly what such an event would include. Surely it would include a performance of "Happy Birthday" by the Lawrence City Band, maybe some historical re-enactors and, hopefully, cake. But what else could it include? Maybe a spelling bee, where the first person who successfully spells Sesquicentennial wins a key to the city? Or maybe, because the city’s birthday is in the fall (another hint), we could sit around and watch the Missouri Tigers football team get hammered by an SEC school. Or maybe we could just sit around for a whole week, do little work and talk about Kansas basketball. Wait, that’s what spring break is for.
Anyway, there’s no telling whether the idea of Founders Days will gel quickly enough to happen this year. But when it does, I suspect it will be held on or near Sept. 18. (That’s another hint, by the way.)
• If your idea of a celebration is to wait in line to get some sweet-smelling, black gardening gold — also known as compost — then get ready to party. The city is reminding folks that it will conduct its Spring Compost Sale from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. Friday and 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday. But here’s betting the sale doesn’t come close to lasting until 4 p.m. Saturday. The city shuts down the sale once all the compost is gone.
Compost is so popular in Lawrence, I’ve long said the city ought to scrap all other city departments and focus all its efforts on selling city compost. (Well, maybe there is a flaw in that plan.) Anyway, the compost — which is meant to be purchased for residential use, not landscapers looking to resell it — will be for sale for $10 per pickup load.
If you don’t know what compost is, why the heck did you just read these three paragraphs? All right, it is an organic material that can be added to your soil to improve its ability to grow stuff. The city’s compost is made from yard waste — such as lawn clippings and leaves — collected by the city’s solid waste department.
• In the tradition of spring break in Lawrence, I’m only going to give you two Town Talk items instead of three today. If you can excuse me now, I’m going to go talk about Kansas basketball.