Archive for Sunday, October 18, 2015

Lawrence City Commission to review East Ninth Street design

An idea for a neighborhood mural is shown in this rendering from the September 2015 East Ninth Complete Street document.

An idea for a neighborhood mural is shown in this rendering from the September 2015 East Ninth Complete Street document.

October 18, 2015

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The Lawrence City Commission will provide guidance Tuesday on the street reconstruction plan for a new arts corridor — a document that’s being called the first “broad stroke” in the design phase for the East Ninth Project.

The concept plan raises ideas ranging from a narrower street to more bike lanes to "edible public landscaping."

Commissioners have been asked to review the 87-page concept plan, but they will not take formal action on it.

"With the receipt of that, they [designers] move into more formal design development," said Porter Arneill, the city's director of arts and culture. "They'll take that information they've gleaned from visiting with people and start really getting down to what can they really do."

The East Ninth Project, which was first developed as an idea in 2012, aims to integrate public art into the seven blocks between Massachusetts and Delaware streets along with city-funded improvements to the street and walkways.

The project was kick-started in June 2014 when the Lawrence Arts Center won a $500,000 ArtPlace America grant.

The city will provide the rest of the project funding. According to the city’s website, the total cost is estimated at approximately $3.1 million, though the actual amount will not be known until the design is complete and contracts are in place.

The concept plan the commission will review Tuesday was put together by Kansas City-based urban design team el dorado inc., along with engineers and artists.

The document is titled the “Complete Street Concept Plan.” “Complete Street” is a term used to describe a design approach in which streets are planned for all ages, abilities and modes of transportation.

The plan calls for narrowing the street to 28 feet total, with two 10-foot driving lanes and two 4-foot bicycle lanes. Currently, Ninth Street is 30 to 50 feet wide in the seven-block corridor.

The narrower street will cause drivers “to slow down to a neighborhood speed and peacefully co-exist with bicycle traffic,” the plan reads. The document also says narrower streets will allow for more green space in the public right-of-way that can be used for small gathering areas or “edible public landscaping.”

Also proposed are: repairing and replacing sidewalks; preserving existing landscaping and trees; adding small vehicle parking lots; and using concrete pavers in the street reconstruction.

The next step in the design phase is determining what “neighborhood moments” to include in the final development.

“As a project, East Ninth seeks to preserve and celebrate what is special about this street: its character, its history, and the many urban ‘moments’ that comprise one of Lawrence’s most vital neighborhood corridors,” the plan reads.

Ideas for extra spaces along the street include a public orchard, extended patios, gathering areas and a bike corral.

Jarrett Mellenbruch, one of the artists commissioned for the project, is suggesting a neighborhood “front porch” for East Ninth Street to be located in the yard just north of New York Elementary and east of St. Luke AME, between New York and New Jersey streets.

Feedback about the current plan has been documented.

The draft, dated Sept. 4, has been reviewed already by the project’s citizens advisory committee, the East Lawrence Neighborhood Association and the Lawrence Cultural Arts Commission.

According to a timeline for the project on the city’s website, after the plan goes through the City Commission on Tuesday, a team will crystallize the design concept and take it back to those other bodies before commissioners see it again in December.

A public presentation of the design is planned for January.

“I believe that successfully complete, this project will be a model to invite artists and designers at the beginning of the process to work with engineers,” Lawrence Arts Center CEO Susan Tate said. “Lawrence can truly be one of the most forward-thinking places in the country.”

Comments

Fred Whitehead Jr. 2 years ago

"edible public landscaping." Wow!!! Just when I thought we had seen most of the incredible foolishness from the elected city fools, along comes another fantastic and wacky concept.

Not to be content with obstructing the city streets with roundabouts and center lane blockages, new white lines in the two lane streets supposedly indicating one lane, and something called "road diets", an undefined term for further traffic jams and danger, now we hear about an "arts corridor" to clutter up a city street.

Much of this stuff called "art" is junkyard scraps welded up and painted with fancy colors. Most of it is placed around city streets, hopefully well anchored to the ground to prevent it falling onto a passer by.

It never seems to amaze me at how seemingly intelligent persons can fall victim to this black hole for public money, money that could be used for much more positive and useful purposes. Like commercial development and the jobs that will create in this job-needing community. But the dominant anti-growth and anti-automobile crowd is having nothing of that!!

But squandering public money seems to be first in the minds of the city fools and we are stuck with these types voted into office by 10 or 20% of the eligible voters in Lawrence.

Fred Whitehead Jr. 2 years ago

Dorothy, I dunno.... I don't think I mentioned those in my post.

I like trees, but I don't think they belong on the medians of streets to present hazards to out of control cars driven by distracted drivers causing serous damage and injury to the fools driving the cars. (And the trees).

Dorothy Hoyt-Reed 2 years ago

"edible public landscaping" were the first words of your post. That what planting fruit trees berry bushes, etc are. And why would fruit trees be more distracting than oak or elm trees? You would need to get out of your car to pick an apple.

Bob Smith 2 years ago

The bike woman in the pic should be wearing a helmet.

Paul Beyer 2 years ago

Seems they are determined to make 9th street unusable from Iowa street east for cross town traffic.

Tony Holladay 2 years ago

Why are they taking away on street parking? Do they realize that the only option for some of the residents and businesses rely on parking along 9th street? And What about visitors for these artsy attractions. Where do they park? On already crowded residential streets?

Richard Heckler 2 years ago

Perhaps all money could be directed towards developing an East Lawrence Art and Design School. A project that would provide long term employment with upper level salaries and more opportunities for the Lawrence education industry.

How many ways can the $500,000 ArtsPlace America grant be spent that would further demonstrate Lawrence is still yet a powerful arts community? More classes for the young and/or financially challenged? Art it has been said helps children keep their feet on the ground.

Where is the nationally acclaimed East Lawrence School of Art and Design? A 4 year educational institution. This would be a good tax dollar investment.

The voices who live in the neighborhood who are the most affected should have the most impact.

If the project will in fact artificially increase property values which will trigger a tax increase who in Lawrence wants a tax increase attached to the home in which they reside? Unless residents are offered an opportunity to vote yes?

If the 'warehouse district" is designed properly with more residential accompanied with small commercial that fits with residential it seems the project should stand on its own successfully. Is noisy late night commercial truly a good fit?

Shouldn't rehab of the 9th street road and sidewalks be plenty?

Bob Smith 2 years ago

"...Where is the nationally acclaimed East Lawrence School of Art and Design?..." In Cloud Cuckoo Land. Hat tip to Aristophanes.

Richard Heckler 2 years ago

When I google Lawrence,Kansas often what comes up is all about art and music. Lawrence as we speak has an image of an art community. So I am not sure how this 9th street project will actually impact an image that is alive and well.

The "Kansas City arts district" does not have a ton of fancy new streets and such yet is very much alive and so so so active. Which leads me to believe consumers of art do not believe what is being put on the Lawrence table is necessary.

Again if the 'warehouse district" is designed properly with more residential accompanied with small commercial that fits with residential it seems the project should stand on its own successfully.

Maybe noisy late night commercial is not a good fit?

Bob Forer 2 years ago

A great way to destroy a neighborhood while the developers made out like bandits.

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