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Archive for Thursday, October 3, 2013

Editorial: In the street

Lawrence city commissioners should be careful about the precedent they set for closing Massachusetts Street for special events.

October 3, 2013

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Last week, the 1000 block of Massachusetts Street was closed to vehicular traffic for seven hours for the anniversary of the Granada Theater.

The celebration marked 80 years since the Granada opened as a silent movie theater in 1933 and 20 years since it became a live concert venue. The Granada converted its parking lot into a beer garden for the event and showed the movie “Goonies” on a giant inflatable screen to people gathered on Massachusetts Street.

There are sure to be some who say the event was a big success, that it attracted a large number of people to downtown, that it was good for business and other ways Lawrence and the downtown benefitted. Others will say it is difficult to identify any examples of how it was good for downtown or the 1000 block other than it probably increased the sale of beer and pizza and allowed a relatively small crowd to see a free movie.

Hopefully, the decision by the Lawrence City Commission to approve closing of the 1000 block of Massachusetts will not become a common practice. If the city’s main street can be closed to celebrate a theater’s anniversary, how are commissioners going to deny merchants seeking similar accommodations to promote their particular businesses? What are the criteria to justify a street closure?

A stroll down the 1000 block of Massachusetts Street during last week’s closure didn’t do much to elevate the city’s image and probably shouldn’t be used in future efforts to entice a major retailer, manufacturer or prized KU faculty recruit to locate in Lawrence.

Of course, it’s all in the eyes of an observer, but the closure of Eighth Street between Massachusetts and Vermont streets and Massachusetts and New Hampshire streets, as was done for the annual Kansas University Relays, seems far more appropriate and good for Lawrence and its downtown.

Shutting down even one block of Massachusetts Street should be a rare occurrence. It seems Lawrence city commissioners could come up with far better ways to promote and energize downtown than to set a block aside for beer, pizzas and a free movie.

Comments

Keith 9 months, 4 weeks ago

"A stroll down the 1000 block of Massachusetts Street during last week’s closure didn’t do much to elevate the city’s image and probably shouldn’t be used in future efforts to entice a major retailer, manufacturer or prized KU faculty recruit to locate in Lawrence."

You kids get off my street!

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theoscar 9 months, 4 weeks ago

Are you kidding me? It was a Great reason to close off the street. It was after hours and was a great celebration. It characterized what Lawrence is all about.
The city closed off the streets for the street performers, which at any other time of the year are referred to as a nuisance or even called beggars. Oh, they even served beer.
The city permits the flow on the sidewalks to be clogged by allowing businesses to close off a major portion of the sidewalk for dining. Oh, they even serve beer. The city allows one special business to have a sidewalk sale everyday by pulling his tee shirts out on the street to sell. I am guessing that he doesn’t ask for permission or gets any kind of permit for that. But then, he doesn’t serve beer. Maybe you are against the cultural celebrations downtown. They have loud music and yes, they serve beer. I doubt that a fun evening on Mass Street has a negative influence on major retailers, manufactures or potential prized KU faculty. I would guess that major retailers would rather see a crowd downtown enjoying themselves, than an empty street. I think these events are a positive for our great downtown. Some people like the Goonies and some like art in the park. I don’t think the commission should base their decision on potential businesses or faculty. Sometimes we just have to have fun.

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Aileen Dingus 9 months, 4 weeks ago

" It was after hours and was a great celebration. It characterized what Lawrence is all about."

^^ This.

Seriously- what is open that late in the evening downtown anyway? Some restaurants, and I'm pretty sure people still ate. In fact, my family ate dinner at an establishment in that very block that night.

"A stroll down the 1000 block of Massachusetts Street during last week’s closure didn’t do much to elevate the city’s image..."

Pfft. It sure did. It said "We like to have fun, and we like to do things that the community can get behind." It said "We're kind of quirky, and if that's your style, come on and have fun with us."

It was a very Lawrencian thing to do. And that's good.

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Bob Forer 9 months, 4 weeks ago

The best part about the celebration is that once again, the city was able to do something nice for the owner of the building, who happpens to be Doug Compton.

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pizzapete 9 months, 3 weeks ago

In another 20 years we can close off part of New Hampshire St. to celebrate the end of Compton's tax abatements and the fact that he's finally paying his fair share of tax revenue back to the city. And with all the money he'll have collected from his private "special tax district" on NH. St. the next twenty years he could even pay for a touring band to put on a free concert and buy us all dinner.

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frank mcguinness 9 months, 4 weeks ago

This is the most absurd and incorrect editorial that the LJWORLD and Dolph have produced in a very long time.

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LaughingWater 9 months, 4 weeks ago

I agree; this is absurd! How was this NOT a positive for downtown Lawrence? I don't see that anywhere in this article. Is it that "it did not do much to elevate the city's image?" Proof, please. It was, by far, one of the coolest downtown events I've experienced in the 15 years I've lived here. And the positives you mentioned, "attracted a large number of people downtown, that it was good for business and other ways Lawrence and the downtown benefitted." Yes! That's exactly what it did. And that's a bad thing? You are clearly a hater of downtown and its businesses. I applaud the city commissioners for passing this, and I'm hopeful that they continue to support downtown Lawrence in this way. As a small business owner on Mass, this article is disheartening, to say the least. Have some pride in your city and adjust your attitude.

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ClintonLakeSurfer 9 months, 4 weeks ago

How old are the writers on your editorial board? This article sounds pretty crotchety. Having an outdoor movie downtown is exactly the kind of thing that can attract younger folks downtown for a good time. Holding an event like this after hours also makes a lot of sense to minimize the impact on traffic. If you don't like this kind of thing, why don't you go do some actual reporting and gather some actual evidence on whether the event had any impact (good or bad) on downtown businesses? You know...what journalists are supposed to do?

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Hooligan_016 9 months, 4 weeks ago

Lemme guess, Dolph wrote this one?

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Haiku_Cuckoo 9 months, 4 weeks ago

In light of this editorial, they should show "Grumpy Old Men" for the next outdoor movie.

http://craigmcn.ca/wp-content/uploads/2012/09/old-man.jpg

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Lora Gilliland Schneider 9 months, 4 weeks ago

I'm thinking someone had to reroute for his drive home and felt a bit inconvenienced.... Could this article make Lawrence sound more uppity or non-tolerant? So...I mean...it's ok to shut down the street for a KU event...because EVERYONE supports the Hawks in this town, right? (NO) Support buisness. Cater to different ideas and lifestyles. THIS was a GREAT idea and event. My family used to LOVE going to the free movies before the new building was built at 9th and New Hampshire. Do different events for different people. EMBRACE the community. Don't just shake your fist and yell, "You kids get off my lawn!" Lighten up Dolph! (and I doubt he'll read any of these comments..).

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