To the editor:
I am reminded of the importance of good city planning in the recent go-rounds of meetings regarding the proposed hotel project at Ninth and New Hampshire streets. The plan has changed multiple times. Following codes and regulations is critical to effective city planning. The more that individuals and developers view them as variable, the less seriously they are taken. Effective city planning is diminished and the “tail wags the dog.” It would be refreshing to see initial projects presented to the city that follow all related city codes and guidelines, saving the city and community much time, energy and money.
Does it make sense to locate a too-large hotel directly behind a valued historic residential block? While downtown has to have a mix of offerings, planning the expansion of the area should be carefully considered for both social and economic impacts. A city is a delicate ecosystem with many variables. To thrive it should balance and honor these variables. Plans by the same developer have also been discussed to develop property across the street. East Lawrence residents view this site as a better location for a hotel.
As public funding will be expected for such large projects, it is important that the public be adequately informed and involved. Better to slow down the development process, take time for careful downtown planning and work with city neighborhoods. A balanced perspective may help all see a better planning picture. There are a lot of smart, talented community members that are a valuable resource when given the opportunity to fully participate. The city might end up with a spectacular project versus one that is disappointing.