Advertisement

Archive for Sunday, October 28, 2012

Editorial: Untimely issue

October 28, 2012

Advertisement

Lawrence city officials may be completely justified in requiring developers of a downtown hotel project to survey their site to determine whether it is an unmarked burial ground for several black soldiers killed in Quantrill’s Raid, but the issue should have been raised much earlier in the process.

While city commissioners already had moved ahead to a discussion of major traffic revisions at Ninth and New Hampshire streets, the city’s planning staff was sitting on a letter from the state archeologist that might make developers reconsider their decision to build a hotel project on the southeast corner of that intersection. If the city were going to require developers to incur the additional time and expense of test excavations to look for burial sites at that location, the developers had a right to know that before the project had progressed this far. This is the kind of interaction that has caused the city to be criticized as not friendly to business development. One of developers’ most frequent complaints about the city planning process is that the rules keep changing as a project moves forward.

The situation with the possible burial site seems to be largely a matter of poor communication. Several opponents of the hotel project raised the issue during discussions of the project, but neither city commissioners nor the city’s Historic Resources Commission apparently were made aware that the state archeologist had notified City Manager David Corliss back in March that the state wanted to discuss doing test excavations on the site before any development permits were approved. The project has been approved by both the Historic Resources Commission and city commissioners, who also approved a $12 million incentive package for the project in July.

Through all of this process, city planning staff members were saying nothing about the letter from the state archeologist because they had decided that the question didn’t need to be raised until months later when a building permit or site plan for the project was being considered. Now, city officials are saying they are likely to require the developers of the project to do test excavations at the site. It’s easy to understand why developers would be displeased by this prospect. The rules may not have changed during the approval process, but the developers weren’t made aware of this potential wrinkle in a timely manner. Even if planners didn’t mean this to be an impediment, the timing of the excavation requirement gives the impression they are changing the rules or, even worse, seeking to stymie the project.

Lawrence certainly should be conscious and protective of its important history, and examining this site for pre-Civil War remains may be a worthy endeavor, but the manner in which this was handled by the city leaves much to be desired.

Comments

oneeye_wilbur 1 year, 5 months ago

Why should anyone care , no one cared when the city of Lawrence wanted to bulldoze a legit burial spot, aka oak hill mausoleum. This city has so many hypocrites and just plain misinformed. By the way the mausoleum still stands with a few less bodies because a few survivors of the deceased were coerced by the city to get the remains OUT. That mausoleum held plenty of deceased tied to local history. All these idiots in Lawrence can focus on is the civil war forgetting that life continued after that.

Whete is the outcry to give some dignity to those left at the mausoleum and make the outside respectable?

How foolosh of Wilbur to think anything would happen, when the Mayor cannot even the downtown respectable, and he is a business owner.

0

Steven Gaudreau 1 year, 5 months ago

No growthers have hit a new all time low with this lame b.s. I thought all of you were atheists anyway. Why would you care about hypothetical 200 year old bones that have been abandoned and forgotten about a century ago?

1

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 1 year, 5 months ago

What difference does it make if the letter from the state got passed along to the developers early in the process? They've known about the potential graves all along. If they haven't been planning on dealing with them in a respectful way all along, that's pretty effed up, don't you think?

2

waitjustaminute 1 year, 5 months ago

Whatever the reason was to withhold the letter from the State, we have an obligation to find out if human remains are buried there. That is a moral, spiritual, ethical, psychological, and socially responsible obligation. And yes, regardless of the outcome, a corner stone, plaque, marker should be mandatory in the building plans. For all the right reasons this town cherishes its history. So do the right thing, find out, make the right decisions, and then move forward. (This short editorial comment does not reflect the views of the management, responsible replies are welcomed.)

3

verity 1 year, 5 months ago

Call me old fashioned (along with liberal, radical, pinko communist whatever, oh, and don't forget, socialist), but in our culture we are generally taught to respect the final resting place of the dead. Also, if people were buried there, it is of historical significance.

The question is why was the letter from the state archeologist not made public immediately. Something smells really fishy here.

1

oneeye_wilbur 1 year, 5 months ago

The article says the panning staff was sitting on the letter. Who was sitting on it and why? Please JW. Get some names. Wilbur has every reason to believe schumm knew nothing about nor did others, you see, all one has to do is look at the leadership of which there is none. Schumm cannot even figure out how to run parking downtown or keep the lots in good repair. oR. Is there another letter someone is sitting on that is going to turn over a parking lot to a developer? If so, that amounts to public theft of public assets,

0

rockchalker52 1 year, 5 months ago

We are all destined for the dig. Can you dig it? I knew that you could.

0

1 year, 5 months ago

jhawkinsf, perhaps you should call the state archaeologist and find out what the standard procedure is? that way you could educate the property owner, the developer, city hall, yourself, the neighborhood and any other interested parties as well. much appreciated!

2

jhawkinsf 1 year, 5 months ago

Anyone have a cost estimate? Anyone suggesting who should pay this money? Anyone think any cost should be capped at a certain amount and what that amount should be? Anyone think a time limit should be set for this search?

0

1 year, 5 months ago

AME church were just in the process of building a trench to be the foundation of their church near the corner of 9th & NH. very shortly after quantrills raid, the church abandoned that site and began construction at their current location of 9th & NY.

in the years since, there has been a house on this lot, but what is interesting is that this house was set way, way back towards the alley line, not in line with the houses that were around it.

the gas station that existed at the actual corner of 9th & NH until perhaps 20 years ago was built on slab construction. the tanks would have been below ground along 9th street.

so yes, it is very conceivable that that ground where the mass grave may or may not be, could have been undisturbed since 1863.

2

citizen1 1 year, 5 months ago

Chad Lawhorn's "Town Topic" article states: "The letter from the state archeologist said his research did find a 1903 Kansas University master’s thesis by Lizzie Goodnight that stated “a number of people killed during Quantrill’s raid were buried in the foundation trench of a church that was under construction at the time.”

If that is true, those bodies were desecrated 150 years ago. If there was a church on that site it is likely those bodies were removed when the foundation was dug up and removed. Whatever the status of the remains of those soldiers it can't be much.

I agree with the plaque idea above, assuming this lot is the site of the church mentioned by the archeologist.

0

ksgardener 1 year, 5 months ago

Maybe they should re build the Varsity House at that location.

0

LJ Whirled 1 year, 5 months ago

Has this corner been vacant since the Civil War? If not, any graves might have been disturbed long ago; if so, it seems like anybody who really cared about these putative graves might have looked for them sometime in the last century-and-a-half.

Put a plaque on the corner of the building, dedicated to the memory of those who fell in defense of Lawrence in the raid.

Next fake issue ...

0

1 year, 5 months ago

Yes we had brought this up months ago, I do not know why it finally has become a serious issue to be considered now, but i am grateful that it will be dealt with in an appropriate way now.

1

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 1 year, 5 months ago

Hmm, the developers have known of these potential graves from the git-go. So if they weren't going to be required to exhume these bodies respectfully, were they just going dig them up with a big shovel or bulldozer and use them as fill at some other First Management project?

2

TheBigW 1 year, 5 months ago

Corliss and Scott McCullough need to be replaced with someone new, along with a few other dept heads and some staff. A big clean sweep of city hall would be good so we could have fresh people, from outside the local circles..... would be nice.

2

oneeye_wilbur 1 year, 5 months ago

Your staff editorial reflects directly on the city commission, the city manager and staff, do not leave anyone out. HRC. Is the worst. There is a conflict of interest with lyn Zollner and her husband at the state level. Why is Zollner in Lawrence acting as a real estate advisor to prospective investors in Lawrence. That is not her job. The city commission. And past are not taking charge of staff.

1

Commenting has been disabled for this item.