Archive for Friday, May 31, 2013

Letter: Downtown demise

May 31, 2013


To the editor:

In response to the May 24 editorial, “Development shift?,” I offer a single word that, if considered seriously, could open many new dialogues about our downtown’s problems. The word is “classism.”

I’ve lived in Lawrence since 1974, when downtown was much quieter, more friendly to local residents and a sweeter place to stroll and shop. There are many who remember with nostalgia the Woolworth’s, Duckwall’s, Ben Franklin (chain) stores, drug stores, groceries and locally owned businesses whose merchants depended not on tourism but on the people who lived and worked right here in Lawrence. Downtown was clean and safe.

Today, downtown is noisy, crowded, dirty and an unfortunate draw for out-of-towners seeking late-night entertainment. Shootings, stabbings and bar fights are too common; drinking and sports are the mainstays of the Lawrence economy.

When “classism” becomes of the focus of our thinking about changes downtown, it’s easy to see that our elected officials, in their mission to attract wealthy tourists, please wealthy developers and allow extremely expensive projects like the new recreation center, have lost their faith in their own middle- and lower-income residents to support their town.

It should be obvious from the state of our downtown buildings and infrastructure where our money should be going: new sidewalks, garbage cans, paid employees to maintain planters and public areas, increased police protection (foot patrols), renovation of the old A&P; into an operating grocery story. Make our downtown a healthy, beautiful place for our local residents. Promote its amazing historic business buildings and tourists will come.


Richard Heckler 4 years, 6 months ago

Excellent choice of words M.G. Roy.

BTW $30 million tax dollars spent on the " rec center field house" would have repaired an estimated 100 miles of sidewalk or perhaps provided 250 miles of new and safe shared use bike/pedestrian pathways. Either or both would make it much more relaxing to travel Lawrence without cars more often. Not to mention providing more jobs along the way.

Does Lawrence want to lose downtown to a new brand of economic terrorism? Or bring it back as one healthy family oriented business venture?

Once Lawrence develops fully into another Topeka there will be many many tears shed. The lions share of the population does not want this.

Lawrence Association of Neighborhoods has not given up on downtown Lawrence nor city government. It's all about working together as a village so to speak.

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