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Letters to the Editor

Letter: Balanced plan

February 17, 2014

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To the editor:

Recently, Doug Compton has confirmed intent to develop another multi-story residential building downtown. There is concern about it seeming incongruous with the surrounding buildings and catalyzing the trend to neglect the preservation of downtown’s historical air. While I sympathize with the sentiment of historic preservation, it’s important to balance it with embracing contemporary trends and considering community and environmental needs. Compton’s proposition is a necessary addition to downtown but should be mindfully implemented.

First, as the proposed site is opposite important historical sites, special consideration should be given to the building’s appearance. This would include a restriction on height and choosing an architectural style that is contemporary, yet complementary to its neighbors. Second, the design should reflect our community’s commitment to sustainability by mandating a minimum adherence to LEED standards or passive heating and cooling systems. Finally, an effort should be made to ensure affordability and promotion of social equity. Living downtown shouldn’t be limited only to those with high incomes.

There are a multitude of stakeholders in downtown development; its design, financing and execution should be transparent and genuinely participatory. Too often, I have attended a Lawrence City Commission meeting only to find the majority public opinion undermined by developers with deep pockets. Individual public concerns regarding Compton’s project should be addressed and resolved before the project is approved. And, perhaps we should collectively fashion a downtown development plan with clear parameters so as to avoid the same arguments over every proposal.

Comments

Bart Johnson 10 months ago

So what do want to happen to him if he doesn't build his property up the way YOU want it? Do you want him shot or sent to prison?

Ron Holzwarth 10 months ago

It appears to me that this letter brought up very reasonable and well thought out points. I am surprised by your reaction to it.

Bart Johnson 10 months ago

Mr. Holzwarth, it's not about the ends but the means. Kraus, instead of negotiating with the developer himself to find a win-win situation, wants the guns of the government to be pointed at the developer, forcing the developer to do the government's bidding.

Now this is evil and immoral to do, but Kraus's letter shows why it is a failure of a strategy. He mentions that developers with deep pockets seem to override the process anyway. Well, duh. Do we expect these businesses to just sit there while we point the guns of the government at them? No, they are going to fight back. They are going to use the guns of the government to their own advantage to push out competitors and get favorable treatment. Of course if a business does this purely defensive move, they are labeled as the corrupting problem with government. This completely ignores that the whole thing begins with the government trying to interfere in how people use their private property.

Schuyler Kraus 10 months ago

I think you've misunderstood. None of my suggestions are explicitly dictating how it should be built; I'm proposing broad criteria that I think should be considered and discussed for everyone's benefit. There are many recommendations and concerns that have been expressed since his announcement to develop the property. These are mine.

Furthermore, he may own the property, but everyone who enjoys downtown will be affected by it. My main point is that, as a community, we need a to decide on a vision for how downtown should be developed and all of our concerns should weigh equally in this process, regardless of how much money we have invested.

Bart Johnson 10 months ago

I just want to know what you want to happen to him if he doesn't use his property as you think he should. Should he be shot or sent to prison?

You see, in a sane society, if you wanted this property built a certain way, then you should have to put your own money forward and buy it yourself. In our insane society, you think you should be able to use the government to bully this guy around and you pay nothing. You want all the costs on him and none on you. Yet if he fights against this system, he's somehow a greedy pig for wanting to make a profit off his investment, and you're just a concerned citizen worried about the "community" and "all of our concerns."

Just buy it yourself, or tell me if you want him shot or sent to prison.

Brett Lathrop 10 months ago

Bart, I think you're missing the point of the article. The article clearly states that the addition is necessary, it just should be completed in a manner that isn't obtrusive to historical downtown. Don't know why you want someone jailed or shot, but to me it would be a shame if this addition wasn't done tastefully.

Bart Johnson 10 months ago

You're missing my point. What will happen to the developer if he doesn't comply? Do you want him jailed or shot if he doesn't do it "tastefully"? The problem that you're missing is the violence of government and the greed in yourself. You want it done tastefully, well then pony up. Otherwise you want something for free and you want the government to point their guns at the developer to give it to you for free.

If you want it, then pay for it. Life ain't free.

Brett Lathrop 10 months ago

If he doesn't comply then many will be saddened by the appeareance, that's it...Don't know why you're stuck on this shooting someone thing.

Bart Johnson 10 months ago

No, if he doesn't comply with the City he'll be shot or thrown in prison. That's how the government works. The government is a gun. I'm stuck on it because that's what it is.

James Howlette 10 months ago

Don't bother. You'll get nothing but libertarian talking point word salad from him.

Bart Johnson 10 months ago

From me, you'll get nothing but consistent ethics applied to all people. From Mr. Howlette, you'll get ethics arbitrarily applied to avoid questioning the ethics of government action.

The thing is, government is just people, like you and me. I apply ethical standards to all people, but others make exceptions for people who call themselves the government.

Richard Heckler 10 months ago

Downtown Redevelopment Issues and Opportunities – analyzing where the height, mass and scale of a particular part of downtown could be changed with new or re-development. http://lawrenceks.org/assets/agendas/cc/2013/01-08-13/pl_downtown_survey_staff_memo.pd

Richard Heckler 10 months ago

There are guidelines as we see however because they have never been approved as building codes the guidelines tend to get ignored by city government.

At the moment First Management is being allowed the privilege of "defacto planning director" as first management rewrites the Downtown Guideline project by project. Are the new guidelines being accomplished on a volunteer basis? Hardly! First Management is awarded millions upon millions upon millions of tax dollars in tax abatements in one form or another.

Without zillions in tax dollar assistance city government is told First Management for profit projects will NOT be profitable. Perhaps these projects should not be pursued most certainly not on the backs of taxpayers AND MOST CERTAINLY NOT without taxpaying voters approval.

How can billions in tax dollar welfare be considered fiscally prudent?

We can slam Doug Compton and others all we want. In reality it is city government that is responsible for this reckless spending.

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