Archive for Monday, April 20, 2015

Ninth Street Corridor project discusses Lawrence history, gentrification

Lawrence residents discuss East Lawrence history in relation to the Ninth Street Arts Corridor project, Monday, April 20, 2015, at New York Elementary School.

Lawrence residents discuss East Lawrence history in relation to the Ninth Street Arts Corridor project, Monday, April 20, 2015, at New York Elementary School.

April 20, 2015


Toward the end of the third and final public art workshop discussing the Ninth Street Corridor Project, the word "gentrification" began to creep into the conversation.

The public meeting, hosted by local historian Dennis Domer, was held Monday night in the gymnasium of New York Elementary School. About 75 community members, city and business representatives gathered in the school to take part in a roundtable discussion on the history of East Lawrence.

The recent series of public art workshops have given the project's design team, also in attendance, an opportunity to look to local residents for feedback and guidance on the project.

Those in attendance spoke of their childhoods in East Lawrence, ethnic histories and economic histories they shared.

Reverend Verdell Taylor of St Luke African Methodist Episcopal Church spoke briefly of African American history throughout the city, his experiences with community members and his own life in Lawrence for the past 20 years.

As a pastor of a predominately black church where many other ethnicities also are represented, Taylor said it was important for him to share a piece of the town's history at Monday's meeting.

"It's also important because I'm a member of the community and I want to be totally involved in this community process," Taylor said.

As the meeting drew to a close, one woman addressed Josh Shelton of the project's design team. She asked him about transparency within the project and just how the stories shared would impact their planning process.

"When we say we don't know how this information will be used, we truly don't know yet," Shelton said to the crowd. "I think we're trying to slow burn this project enough to let some of this stuff digest, to talk about it amongst ourselves and to talk about it with you all."

Part of the project's process for transparency, Shelton said, includes meetings like Monday's and the Citizen Advisory Committee Meeting at the school this Wednesday.

When confronted about the project's potential to displace lower-income East Lawrence residents in favor of a more affluent population, or gentrifying the area, Shelton told the crowd that is not the team's goal.

"We are not seeking to be a Trojan Horse for development interests," he said.

The next Citizen Advisory Committee Meeting will take place at New York Elementary at 7 p.m. Wednesday.

A full schedule and more information can be found at


David Holroyd 3 years, 2 months ago

Cannot gentrify unless there is something to gentrify and the wealth to do such. I bought a concrete pig and painted pink lips on it, but it is still a concrete pig now sitting in a flower bed just for decoration.

Tim Foley 3 years, 2 months ago

I think you just qualified to be on the art tour.

David Holroyd 3 years, 2 months ago

Btw, looking at the photo the crowd as it was might consider a "retirement" home or "nursing facility" what was the average of the 75 that attended?

Kate Rogge 3 years, 2 months ago

More to the point, Dennis Domer is the local historian member of the 9th Street Art Walk commission, and Monday's program was about locals' own memories of East Lawrence. So Domer invited speakers among other local historians (Katie Armitage, blue jacket, is seated fourth from left in the picture and spoke about East Lawrence during Quantrill's Raid in 1863), and long term residents of East Lawrence (the woman in a red sweater seated third from the left was born here in 1927 and spoke about growing up at 9th and Rhode Island through the Depression and WWII). The woman seated next to me spoke about her Mexican-American grandparents moving from La Yarda to 904 Pennsylvania when her father bought them a house before he left for the Navy at the start of WWII, and about her own memories of growing up in East Lawrence as the third generation there.

A lot of people spoke about East Lawrence cultural, religious, family, and commercial history Monday night, and many of them were grey-haired. Maybe there will be a more acceptable younger crowd present when the design staff want to plumb the depths of 30-somethings' memories of East Lawrence?

Richard Heckler 3 years, 2 months ago

There is a movement is and around Lawrence that is allowing golden agers to stay in the homes that they own because the cost of those retirement homes are so inflated and not necessarily like home.

The average age might have been closer to 52 or less perhaps.

This project should not increase or can we say inflate property values thus property taxes. How can anyone ever know that a project such as this makes property more valuable. So many have offered up comments that hold up art in disdain. Inflating property values might be looked upon as the disdainful art of "guessing".

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