Douglas County Commission to discuss plans to stop graffiti on underpasses

photo by: Chris Conde

The Douglas County Courthouse is pictured in September 2018.

Underpasses in southern Lawrence have recently been marked with graffiti, which may lead to action from the Douglas County Commission.

During their Wednesday meeting, commissioners will discuss ways to hinder future graffiti, possibly by adding murals to the underpasses.

In a memo to the commissioners, County Administrator Sarah Plinsky said underpasses carrying 31st Street and Kansas Highway 10 over shared-use paths were marked with graffiti in September. County staff cleaned off the graffiti from one of the underpasses at a cost of $1,300 but couldn’t clean the other two underpasses because water on the path made it difficult to access.

Instead of cleaning off underpasses if they are vandalized in the future, Plinsky said Commissioner Nancy Thellman was interested in adding the murals. However, the two underpasses carrying K-10 are owned by the state and the county would need to get approval from the Kansas Department of Transportation to add murals.

The commissioners will consider directing staff to research the feasibility of the murals and to work with KDOT to get approval.

In other business, the commissioners will receive a report from a local NAACP chapter about its proposal to establish a memorial in Lawrence for three black men who were lynched in town in 1882.

The Lawrence chapter of the NAACP is working with the Equal Justice Initiative, which created a national lynching memorial in Montgomery, Ala., to erect a historical marker with information about the lynching.

Kerry Altenbernd, chair of the NAACP History Committee proposing the memorial, is expected to present the proposal. While the group is working with the City of Lawrence to place the marker near the Kansas River, Altenbernd said the group was also considering placing the marker in Robinson Park, which is owned by the county.

If Robinson Park is chosen as the location, the commissioners will need to approve its placement.

The commissioners will also consider approving a $4.1 million guaranteed maximum price to construct transitional group home and apartment facilities on the behavioral health campus, located in the 1000 block of West Second Street.

Mar Lan Construction, which the commissioners previously approved as the construction manager at risk for the project, is contractually obligated to provide a guaranteed maximum price. The funding for the project includes contributions from local, state and federal agencies. Douglas County’s contribution is $400,000, according to county documents.

The commission will meet at 5:30 p.m. Wednesday at the Douglas County Courthouse, 1100 Massachusetts St. Full agendas are available online at

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