Ninth Street Corridor project discusses new name, statement of values

The Ninth Street Corridor Project design team recapped past meetings and unveiled a few in-progress suggestions at the second citizen’s advisory committee meeting Wednesday night.

The committee is made up of more than a dozen neighborhood, city and business representatives, meant to help steer the design team in a positive direction as the project moves forward.

Several dozen people sat in New York Elementary School’s cafeteria, listening to the open meeting and watching as the design team’s Josh Shelton proposed a new name for the project.

Rather than Free State Boulevard, as the venture was initially called, or the Ninth Street Corridor Project, as it has come to be known, Shelton suggested a simpler approach, naming the project “East Ninth.”

“These are small shifts in the way we talk about it,” he said. “This is not just the street, it’s the place and it’s the site for the project, East Ninth.”

While the name of such a project might seem like an innocuous detail, committee member Dave Loewenstein said the group was not consulted on the new name and there can be unexpected consequences to the change. Those consequences can impact the essence of a neighborhood like East Lawrence.

“Rebranding the neighborhood without the consent and participation and a real good conversation with the folks who live and work here seems aggressive to me,” he said. “Rebranding can be used as a way to erase the history and the culture and the social fabric of a place.”

On the other hand, committee member Tom Carmody said, he had no objections to the new name. At the moment, Shelton reiterated, nothing is final.

Next, the team’s Tristan Surtees revealed a statement of five values to lead the project going forward.

“(The values) all come from the experiences we’ve had and the things we’ve discussed as a team,” Surtees said.

The values are: The project will be transparent. The project will be equitable and civic. The project will value a diversity of perspective. The project will be respectful of its people. The project will be responsive to its place.

As the values were listed, many committee members shared concerns the project lacked involvement, clarity and scope.

Loewenstein said the list “lacked teeth” and suggested, perhaps, that committee members write a new statement of values alongside the design team.

Carmody, on the other hand, said while the values aren’t overly specific, ultimately they can serve as a good starting point.

“It’s broad, but as we continue to the next step there will definitely be members that will provide more input,” he said. “I’m upbeat and positive. I think there has been transparency and there will continue to be.”

As the meeting wrapped up, Surtees suggested the design team and the committee organize a Ninth Street walkabout of sorts to allow the group to better visualize where the project should go next.

“And I do think the idea of a walk in the street with the group makes a lot of sense,” Carmody said. “I look forward to that.”

The next Citizen Advisory Committee Meeting will take place at the Lawrence Public Library at 7 p.m. May 27.

A full schedule and more information can be found at