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Amos Lawrence Park - a name and a vision for Lawrence


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Historical Image by Lawrence Morgan

Amos Lawrence Park

Building on the best of the past, yet looking towards the future

The former Farmland Industries fertilizer plant is now being made into a business park. I think it needs a new name and - equally important - a new vision. A much better name than those which have been proposed for this park would be "Amos Lawrence Park."

It's time to have a vision for this park which would incorporate the city's possibilities and that of surrounding cities as well. The vision needs to incorporate what this park could become in conjunction with other parts of Lawrence and Douglas County.

Pedestrian / bicycling trail and a place for gathering

A pedestrian/bicycling trail should lead from the park to downtown Lawrence and to the circular path around the university. This could be adjacent to the 19th Street entrance but should be separate, and not part of, the roadway. There should also be a trail leading from the park to Baldwin City and Ottawa, and eventually to Eudora, DeSoto and Kansas City. All of these trails would be landscaped with Kansas plants, and would be part of the Douglas County and Johnson County trail and park systems.

There should be places to sit and to have coffee, tea or a meal. Trees and flowers throughout the park would be a welcome break from the summer's sun. Some of these things are shown on the master plan but not in detail, and not extending beyond the park itself.

Healthy food would be provided so that persons, and visitors, could have lunch there. In addition to take-out foods, there is a strong possibility that a Whole Foods or Trader Joes would work well in the park. Whole Foods, for example, is now building smaller stores with a live sandwich, meats and seafood department.

Could there be anything better than not only to have your food at the park, but also to be able to come on your bike or in the car to Whole Foods, for example, for your grocery shopping. In the spring, summer and fall you could come via the path on bicycle or as a pedestrian to the park. If you are on the way to work in Kansas City, or coming to Lawrence to enjoy yourself, you could stop off at Amos Lawrence Park to get provisions for your evening meal or an afternoon outing. This would mean you wouldn't have to make an extra trip for groceries later, but could instead enjoy yourself at home or outside in good weather.

Dillon's at 17th and Massachusetts St. should also be complimented for having made a strong investment in a part of town which before did not have a good grocery store. It is a good example of a company reinvesting in local businesses by completely remodeling the store, making it very up to date.

The trail and bus route should lead past Dillons to downtown, to the new library and then to the university. With this kind of public transportation, many people won't need to drive their cars to work - they can take the bike, walk, or ride the bus much of the year.

Several important things

This would symbolize several important things.

First, the name of the park itself. By naming the park the "Amos Lawrence Park," it shows the connection Lawrence has to the early east coast of the United States, at which time the nation had really just begun its long journey forward.

There would be a link to Lawrence, Massachusetts - another town also named by Amos Lawrence - which I think would be very important for this park, so that links between Lawrence and the east coast are well understood. Street names and place names (for gatherings, coffee, a meal) should be chosen based on the creative energies of the first people in Lawrence - from businessmen to teachers, homemakers to farmers and builders.

The path from the park to downtown, to Baldwin City, Ottawa, Eudora and DeSoto - and eventually Kansas City - offers ideal places in these towns for start ups. Many companies would prefer that their people work in smaller places, which are quiet - such as Baldwin City. They could get a lot more done than driving on 101 in the Bay Area for one to two hours each way even before they get started for the day.

All of these places would be linked by fiber cables - and the time to put them in is now, when 19th St. is ready to join Amos Lawrence Park - not later. This would make it clear that all parts of the city are linked together, not just some companies and organizations. All paths would be lit by LED lights at night.

Actually, fiber cables should be accessed by all businesses, so that people would get to know one another, as well as citizens from all of Douglas County, Franklin County and Kansas City. In Silicon Valley, for instance, many companies, as a result of such meetings, now share skills, talent and overlapping products. New companies locate in Silicon Valley just as a result of these meetings. The same thing could take place in Lawrence. Outdoor and indoor meetings should take place at least once every week.

The contributions of all Lawrence citizens should also be shown. By their being able to visit the park, both via the path, bus and by car, it would take on much more energy than by simply being a business park, of which there are already plenty in all parts of the United States, including Silicon Valley - where many business buildings and parks have plenty of buildings which remain empty. Much more is needed besides buildings and concrete if a space is going to become an idea-generation location.

Building on the best of the past, yet looking towards the future

"Building on the best of the past, yet looking towards the future." Both need to be incorporated into this park, and the surrounding pathways. It must, for example, include nature: Kansas is a very important part of the prairie and plains ecosystem. There should be plants, flowers and trees which reflect this aspect of life in Lawrence, available for all to see, including major landscaping all along the trial. This landscaping should under no circumstances be ignored. This should not be a park with no connection to the land. There should also be a fountain or fountains throughout the park, so that families and single persons would enjoy being there on the weekends as well as during the week.

And there should be the amenities that companies seek in Silicon Valley - basketball courts, for example, so that people who take breaks could have fun, and again, meet more people.

City College of Lawrence

There would also eventually need to be a City College of Lawrence, modeled to some extent on the City College of San Francisco as well as other signficant community colleges. The City College of San Francisco has 85,000 students of all ages - from those who are learning English, to people working towards an associate degree, to seniors who are catching up on areas they never had time for eariier in life.

And this, again, needs to be an attractive area so that people can meet each other and enjoy themselves - preferably outside in good weather. You never know who will meet each other - and perhaps have just the right idea for a new company. Steve Jobs quit the university because he felt he had better things to do with his time. You don't always need a university education to make things happen - and you can go back later when you have additional time and when you have explored life first.

City College of Lawrence should be linked not only with KU, but with Kansas State, Baker University, Ottawa University, and other similar colleges. We need an organization which will serve all people, at many different stages in their life.

Attractive signs in each city should point prominently to each educational institution in that city. There should be no doubt about it: Kansas is about education, at many different times throughout life!

Also, by putting a City College of Lawrence at Amos Lawrence Park, people from surrounding communities could be served at this location or in small branch colleges around town, each with a small library, computer space, and paying of bills without extra fees. These could be empty storefronts or small houses in various parts of the city.

The result will be a city of energy and innovation

What would eventually result would be a city of energy, excitement and innovation. This is the kind of city that companies want to relocate to, and that people of all ages - including seniors - would want to take part in. It would be an ideal energetic business community, including a City College for future growth at any time, and an ideal senior retirement location.

If this park is to mean anything in the future, it must have vitality, energy and innovation. The "Amos Lawrence Park" has all of these things and it would be a source destination for businesses of all kinds - not just "venture" businesses.

It would also be a break from much of what is taught at KU, which is too often just rote repeating of what the student thinks the teacher will want, instead of genuine creativity. (And I am a KU graduate; I have experienced that many times myself.)

There could be a strong set of courses - from 1 week to several months - with online classes combined with students working with one another - and many of these online classes are free.

And obviously the groundbreaking TED lectures.

Creative energy is what companies are looking for in the future. Lawrence, by naming this park "Amos Lawrence Park," meets these goals when they are combined with a city that people want to come to and live in for the rest of their lives.


Kelly Babbit 4 years, 7 months ago

I like the idea of any business park requiring bicycle access and further development to expand the cities bike path/trail and public transit network. Another drive up business park without the creative spirit of lawrence behind it is not what the city needs. A loop trail connecting Mary's lake, the business park and going down to the river, or along the rail road to downtown and back along 15th or another acceptable route would be a great way to connect the park to the community via the city trail system.

Lawrence Morgan 4 years, 7 months ago

Ottawa is a very old town, founded in 1865. (Lawrence was founded in 1854). Ottawa Indian settlements gave land for Ottawa University; the university and town were named for the Ottawa tribe. Ottawa University was founded in 1865, Tauy Jones Hall was the first building to be built on the Ottawa University campus. Though it was destroyed by fire in 1875, it was rebuilt in 1876.

Ottawa University was one of the first of early schools to promote adult education. Ottawa University has about 600 students at its main campus, and 5,000 students in various other campuses. Take a look at the web site.


Baker University in Baldwin was also founded very early; United Methodist ministers founded the church in 1858. It is the oldest four-year university in Kansas. Here is the Baldwin City website:


There is a lot of history to be learned here, and linking these cities together is important, for each city has its own characteristics. Can you imagine, as I have indicated from earlier blogs, being able to go back and forth between campuses - taking classes in what interests you from all universities, and living in different towns during your college career?

Joshua Montgomery 4 years, 7 months ago

I really like your ideas, especially the installation of community fiber infrastructure.

I'd encourage you to support the first phase of or Wicked Fiber project. If it moves forward it will create a common carrier network that will provide multiple choices for Lawrence residents.

Richard Heckler 4 years, 7 months ago

Lawrence has an excellent source of whole foods. Lawrence has quite knowledgeable people working at The Merc and and a whole bunch of local farmers raising a ton of whole foods for the community. Our local Farmers Market is one of the best in the region offering locally grown whole foods.

In conjunction with this trail thinking which could be built into the new Horizon 2030 let's keep the Lawrence quality of life center stage.

We need a plan that realizes the largest majority of stake holders not the local 1%.

The largest segment of stakeholders in Lawrence,Kansas by far and away are the individual homeowners of Lawrence,Kansas.

We need a plan that realizes the more the city expands outward the more all sorts of taxes will be increased.

We also need s vision that realizes that the Lawrence,Kansas quality of life is being threatened by the increased crime rate which is directly connected to unchecked and irresponsible growth. More cops and an expanded LPD budget cannot and does not stop crime growth.

John Brown 4 years, 7 months ago

A business park with a focus on generating new technology opportunities for Lawrence and its citizens is a good thing. To imply that somehow growth itself is a root cause of crime is fallacy. Increased populations will create and increased statistical crime image, but by percentages that accurately reflect the changing populace it becomes apparent crime is no worse by the numbers and any connection to growth is generally identified as coincidental in nature and would have happened in spite of and not because of managed growth.

The communities that boast both quality of life and technological advantage over similar positioned areas like Lawrence recognize that change is a positive thing provided you remain focused on the outcomes and they continue to support the ideas that made it successful in the first place.

Growth does not however signal and end to the "values" that Kansan;s hold true to, or in particular Lawrence residents. It is our challenge to continue to be inclusive of new residents and help them to assimilate into the diverse nature of what is Lawrence and value the new cultures and the contributions that they bring.

I for one believe an open business park that incubates new business ideas and allows for a good balance to old and new will only enhance out advantages and delineate any negatives moving forward. A strong infrastructure will be required for its long term success and a city government that is responsive and also cooperative from inception to implementation along with an engaged populace willing to see this through will be the key to its success. Partnerships between City, Business and Residents will ensure that.

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