Archive for Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Letter: Not so bad

May 8, 2013


To the editor:

Lawrence must be a terrible place to live. “Lawrence almost dead last in economic survey,” shouts the headline. Lawrence is ranked 178 out of 179 metro areas, says one detail; 339th out of 366, says another. We must really be miserable here. Thank goodness our newly elected Lawrence United commissioners vow they will save us and “reverse recent negative trends” that have, presumably, prevented developers from getting everything they’ve asked for from the city.

And yet— is Lawrence really all that blighted and backward? To answer, compare it to the other cities that so soundly beat us on these lists of economy indicators. Would you really rather live in St Joseph? Joplin? Or for that matter Topeka? Uhhh … no thanks.

It seems to me there is a disconnect going on here. Although economic development is one component of a prosperous community, it is hardly the only one. Unless you think Lawrence is the dump these economic indicators would suggest, it apparently it isn’t even the primary one. If Topeka is supposed to be the shining example of how we could improve Lawrence, I think I’ll pass. Besides, don’t forget that study from a while back that proves that, in economic terms, the smartest strategy for economic development in a community is to convince retirees to move to here, not manufacturing industries.

I suggest we keep a close eye on our new city commissioners, particularly when it comes to offering tax breaks and other giveaways that benefit the few while sending the bill to the many.


skinny 5 years ago

We need a change of Government in this City. That is the problem. Look at all the business's they turn away year after year (jobs lost). We were lucky to get a Wal-Mart on 6th Street! But only after our fine city commissioners fought them with a bunch of OUR money!!

Wake up City Commissioners!!

chootspa 5 years ago

Way to completely ignore the letter.

Charles L. Bloss, Jr. 5 years ago

I totally agree. They go out of their way to run off businesses that would keep people from going to Kansas City or Topeka to buy what they need. No retiree in their right mind would move to Lawrence. After some 20 years of fighting about an extension of K-10, which has been needed for a long time, it still isn't built and may never be. The sales tax is too high, as well as the cost of living in Lawrence. I could go on, but the companies that placed Lawrence way down on the lists cited in the article above agree with us. Their business is making these determinations, and when two of them agree someone had better listen !!

chootspa 5 years ago

I know several retirees in their right mind who have moved to Lawrence, not just retired and stayed where they'd always lived. They can walk in many parks, take a bus to downtown, buy groceries, get medical care, and otherwise get what they need. Best off, they can afford to live here. The cost of living is about 80% of the national average. There are also arts and enrichment activities, museums, great restaurants, etc. This is a pleasant town with a lot of things to do.

msezdsit 5 years ago

The sky is falling scenario presented concerning economic woes is simply posturing by the build something even if we don't need it crowd. Lawrence is doing quite alright.

Sam Crow 5 years ago

Although the point is moot because the comparison is ridiculous, you know nothing about North Carolina.

Research Triangle Park was developed by the state and the universities to take advantage of the close by schools of Duke, NC State, UNC, and Wake Forest. Three have premier medical schools nearby. Of course, it should be noted Duke and Wake are not state funded. It is a little different than ole KU on the Kaw.

Regarding the "weather and geographic influences", North Carolina has both the ocean on the east and the beautiful Appalachian Mountains on the west. So the beach does have 300 sunny days per year, as do other southern beaches. Five star resorts are abundant throughout the state.

I would say North Caroline has a lot in the “lure” category.

bad_dog 5 years ago

Took the words right out of my mouth...

Sam Crow 5 years ago

Point was, this is not Raleigh-Durham NC. The comparison was ridiculous.

But, you are quite the expert on Lawrence for being here six months, with a whole lot of advice

Anthony Mall 5 years ago

Living here for a few years I have to agree with these stats. Lawrence is far behind most cities of its size is many areas. I keep seeing comments about "buy local", "keep national chains out", and the complaining anytime something gets built (granted, anything built seems to go to the same few pockets) in this town. Corruption and the "good ol'boy" system of city govt. is killing this city. Invite national chains into town! Create jobs, more tax revenue, and the city can grow the way it should. Get the bypass built already. Having to drive through town and not being able to stop anywhere because turning left on 23 with no light is near impossible during the day has to end. Last but not least, how in the world can this town have 3 taco freaking johns and not let other national chains in? Olive Garden, Red Lobster, Hardees, Chucky Cheese, White Castle (my vote), even a Golden Coral, Lowes, Old Navy back, entertainment district other than Mass, new theater,and 2 miles of river banks (not saying all of it) currently covered in trash that could be used to build a few if these needed upgrades to Lawrence. Stopping Menards just cost Lawrence more jobs! I understand the desire to stay small however, it is killing this town.

jafs 5 years ago

You should google "towns with stable population" - you'll find a very interesting study showing that towns with slower population growth outperform those with faster growth in a number of ways economically.

Anthony Mall 5 years ago

Well, Lawrence being ranked near the bottom in economic growth pretty much blows that theory out of the water. Slow growth has accomplished an embarrassing ranking in two different studies.

jafs 5 years ago

Except that Lawrence has had significant population growth for some time now.

Did you even look at the article?

Anthony Mall 5 years ago

and yet just on this thread you have two fairly new residents and two rankings showing how far lawrence is behind... at some point you have to accept that Lawrence needs new leadership, and has to grow to accommodate the growth in population. Transferring to Lawrence was hard. Made harder by a lack of quality jobs for family, lack of entertainment options, lack of restaurants, and this weird obsession with staying as small as possible. In three years there has been very little if any economic growth in Lawrence.

bad_dog 5 years ago

While not exactly "in" Lawrence, you are only 30-60 minutes away from a NASCAR racetrack, shopping of any conceivable kind, several concert venues, major league football, baseball and soccer franchises, international airport, etc. You also have easy access to several local lakes for summertime recreation. There are plenty of good restaurants in Lawrence, but one can venture afield for additional gastronomic stimulation, if desired.

It sounds as though you moved here reluctantly If Lawrence wasn't your best choice given the items you deemed important, why did you move here? Did you not investigate employment opportunities for family, entertainment options, restaurants per capita, etc.? If not, that's on you. If you did investigate, then you made a conscious choice to move to Lawrence as the best option or circumstance for you.

Is Lawrence the best place to live? No, many things need adjustment/improvement. I would love to have more employment, entertainment and dining options with lower taxes and better roads. But as one that has lived many places in this state (and country), this is one of the more desirable places to live; at least for me and mine. Given time, I hope your experience in Lawrence improves.

Anthony Mall 5 years ago

Just seems that anytime there is talk of growth it fails and again all of that money leaves Lawrence. Taxes keep increasing and money keeps leaving! Lawrence is not a bad place to live, it just needs to grow with the population.

jafs 5 years ago

Did you read the article?

If not, how can we have a reasonable discussion about the issue?

Over the time I've lived here, the population has grown from about 60,000 to about 90,000 - that's in about 15 years time. I'd say that's significant population growth. If it's slowed in the last several years, that's a good thing for economic performance in a number of ways, according to the study I've mentioned several times now, but you have yet to look at.

The rankings are rankings of growth - they simply rank how much places have grown. Underlying that is an assumption that growth is a good thing. If one doesn't share that assumption, then the rankings aren't relevant.

Why would somebody move here if they couldn't get a job, or enjoy a variety of activities? It wouldn't make sense. And, it makes less sense to say that lots of people are moving here without those, and we should now somehow "provide" them.

If Lawrence were in fact interested in "staying as small as possible", we wouldn't have the kind of population growth (and other growth, like housing stock, etc.) we've had over the time I've lived here. We wouldn't have extended infrastructure out to the edges so that commuters could buy new houses far from the center of the city, for example.

Since there are a number of ways in which Lawrence was more pleasant to live when I first moved here, I wish the city had in fact been interested in staying smaller.

Anthony Mall 5 years ago

Being forced to move to Lawrence and looking at the facts provided by the city it looks great on paper! However, facts are that jobs in educated fields are scarce, entertainment is lacking, and the reluctance to grow is embarrassing. It's great all of these people moved to lawrence! What is Lawrence doing to keep people in Lawrence, keep money in Lawrence, attract more people to Lawrence? Nothing! People complain about state and federal govt,.and ignore the corruption of local leaders. All of your population growth will stop if the city refuses to grow.

jafs 5 years ago

I'm going to stop responding now.

It's clear you haven't read the article, and don't intend to.

Why would anybody want to maintain a belief without looking at evidence to see if it's accurate or not?

Anthony Mall 5 years ago

Not my fault you fail understand that Lawrence is falling. 117 in the state is schools, jobs that require degrees are few and far between, the city keeps turning down national business interest from moving into town, and other cities are blowing Lawrence by. Blame the state, blame the feds but other towns line Manhattan are growing at an alarming rate by bringing in jobs and building new homes. which article? The one about Iowa, kentucky, Denmark? Google it yourself and provide a link to the article explaining how Lawrence dropping in schools, turning down businesses from.coming into town, but growing in population is so great for Lawrence! Seems to be working out really well right now huh.

jafs 5 years ago

Google "towns with stable populations" as I mentioned above.

You'll find an article about a study about growth showing that towns which grow more slowly do better economically in a number of ways.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 5 years ago

There's no shortage of entertainment in this town. Perhaps what you really mean is that there is a shortage of the type of entertainment that appeals to you. And there are many thousands of us who don't share your opinion that culinary bliss can only be found in a small subset of corporate, chain restaurants serving minor variations on the same Sysco-delivered, factory-farm, GMO foodstuffs.

But don't worry, the real movers and shakers in this town share your belief that prosperity and progress can only be achieved by increasing Lawrence's population and molding that growth with the same corporate cookie cutters that created the cities you wish Lawrence would become.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 5 years ago

Sorry if you're miserable here. But I doubt that any solution I have to offer will satisfy your corporate cookie cutter tastes.

tomatogrower 5 years ago

Good letter. If you don't like Lawrence move to Topeka or Ottawa. Western Kansas would be good. Of course, if you have kids no one knows what is going to happen to their schools as more cuts are made.

bevy 5 years ago

I despair of our civilization when lack of White Castle and Chuck E. Cheese are listed as reasons that a city is going down the tubes. If you want all that crap, move to JoCo! I don't live in Lawrence but I work here, and the city is growing too fast for my tastes, and not in good ways. More cookie cutter houses, apartments and townhomes. More twisty disorganized residential streets. If more of that means good growth, then count me out! Higher taxes, worse streets. Prices are ridiculous, housing prices in particular. I don't know how blue collar families afford to live here at all.

Anthony Mall 5 years ago

That's where a lot of money goes! More restaurants, more things to do, and if Lawrence would wake up that money could stay local... Lawrence school district has dropped to 117 in the state! Your right, keep it small. It's working out really well!

kansanbygrace 5 years ago

I agree with Larry. I've been here since the mid-60's, with excursions to work in several corners of the US. (and 6 other countries) Lawrence is pretty swell.

As far as restaurants, the Free State, La Parilla, TerraBon, Mirth, Zen Zero, Patchamamas, the Orient, the fancy burger place, are all real restaurants with varied menus and all within a walk of easy and cheap/free parking. There are others in other parts of town. I'm not attracted to chain fare of any sort. There are quality groceries available in several parts of town, the Farmers' Markets, Checkers, Merc; and others are all around.

Fiddlin and Pickin' is an absolute gas. There are a few popular music venues to choose from, the Arts Center offers varied programming, the Lied Center is very, very good, the University orchestras, bands, and theater, Lawrence City Band, Lawrence Community Theater are very high quality compared to those of any of the Missouri or Kansas towns with higher "economic growth statistics".

As mentioned above, both Nascar and SCCA tracks within a half-hour. Perry Lake, Clinton Lake, Lone Star, nice swimming opportunities, indoor and out. Sailing, skiing, fishing.

I don't get the fascination with chain restaurants. If I get a hankerin, there's beautiful Olathe to meander around in, or beautiful Topeka, or the more suburban splendor of Ottawa. I get my fill of Atlanta and Miami, New York and Boston, LA or Phoenix in about 4 days and am always glad to be back in Lawrence. (SF takes a little longer, but it gets old, too.)

And in Lawrence, there are an abundance of intelligent, educated, productive and interesting people of every persuasion. More of a rarity in the other towns mentioned.

kansanbygrace 5 years ago

Oops, how could I forget to mention: The loudest Field House imaginable, KU Hoops, and the best Marching Band in the whole world.

kansanbygrace 5 years ago

One hundred and seven jobs, widely varied, in today's paper alone. Got a problem, toe? Get off yer complaining and if there are any you might feel qualified for, give them a call.

jafs 5 years ago

For some years, my wife and I used our vacations to check out other towns across the country to see if we might want to move.

We found smaller towns that had lower costs of living, but fewer restaurants that we liked, less arts/culture, and a less diverse population.

We also found larger towns that had more restaurants, arts/culture, etc. but also more "urban grit".

And, we found college towns that had about the same set of positives and negatives that Lawrence has.

Lawrence isn't perfect, but my particular take on what could and should be improved wouldn't be improved by more growth - it might be improved by better maintenance of what we have, and by greater demand by residents for quality services.

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