June 2013 LAN Newsletter

Lawrence Association of Neighborhoods (LAN) Newsletter, June 2013

Greetings LAN Members and Friends,

Summer is here, and neighborhoods around town have been mighty busy! Here are a few highlights of neighborhood activities and issues:

1.    Crime Wave hits; North Lawrence takes action: North Lawrence residents affected by a recent rash of crimes in their neighborhood held two public meetings, one on May 30th with the police department, and another on June 19, with the District Attorney, Charles Branson. Both meetings were very well attended. Residents asked City officials why criminals arrested in town seem, in some cases, to be bonded out and released within hours, only to commit further crimes. Residents learned about crimes reports in N. Lawrence, and about the DA office’s procedures for trials and sentencing. Neighborhood efforts to address crime, around town, are ongoing. Read more about this issue here: http://www2.ljworld.com/news/2013/jun/03/north-lawrence-residents-irked-rash-thefts-find-ma/ and here: http://www2.ljworld.com/news/2013/jun/21/thieves-entering-unlocked-garages-rash-burglaries-/

Lawrence Police Chief Tarik Khatib will be our guest at the August LAN meeting. We hope to learn more about the proposal to build a new police facility, and have an opportunity to further discuss ongoing crime, and prevention opportunities, in Lawrence neighborhoods. 

2.  HOT TOPIC! Accessory Dwelling Units proposed at City Hall; Old West Lawrence takes action: On Wednesday, June 26, the Planning Commission will consider a change that would allow accessory dwelling units in RS5 districts. Some residents of Old West Lawrence are very concerned about this proposal as it may create a large loophole that allows corporations to circumvent the owner-occupancy requirements of the zoning district, and create de facto duplexes.  Learn more about this proposal, here:http://www.lawrenceks.org/assets/pds/planning/June_Item5.pdf

3. HOT TOPIC! Rental Registration and Inspection proposal goes back on City Commission Agenda: Rental registration and inspection is on Tuesday’s City Commission meeting agenda! LAN has submitted a memo in support of this initiative, and asks LAN and NA members to please attend the meeting or contact your Commissioners! http://www2.ljworld.com/news/2013/jun/21/lawrence-city-commission-agenda-june-25-meeting/

4.    HOT TOPIC! City Budget details to be released: The City’s budget will be released to the public on June 26, 2013. Here is the City Manager’s update on the budget: http://www.lawrenceks.org/assets/agendas/cc/2013/06-18-13/cmo_budget_update_memo_for_0601813.html and here is calendar showing the City’s budget process: http://www.lawrenceks.org/assets/agendas/cc/2013/06-18-13/calendar_2014_budget_process.pdf

5.    Downtown redevelopment subcommittee attends joint hearing of Historic Resources Commission and Planning Commission: Earlier this month, LAN submitted a memo to the Historic Resources Commission (HRC) and the Planning Commission (PC), providing suggestions to both bodies as they proceed with downtown redevelopment plans. On June 20, members of the LAN redevelopment subcommittee attended a joint HRC/PC meeting addressing proposed downtown redevelopment. LAN members report that the joint meeting outcome was well aligned with the position of LAN. Both commissions expressed discomfort with the 90 foot height limit. All seemed to agree that a better mechanism is needed to make new development reflect the scale of surrounding buildings. Both commissions expressed support for the current downtown development guidelines, and both commissions expressed interest in a requirement that any development must result in a net gain to the number of parking spaces. Both commissions expressed support for the City taking the lead in redevelopment of parking lots so as to leverage the value of those lots to the fullest. Sadly, neither commission expressed any interest in the creation of a complete downtown plan. LAN’s positions were generally supported. Many thanks to this subcommittee for their good work!

6.    Community Sidewalk Task Force recommends sidewalk issues be part of City Auditor 2014 Work plan: The Community Sidewalk Taskforce (CST) is a joint effort of the Lawrence Association of Neighborhoods and The League of Women Voters.  As part of the City Auditor’s 2014 work plan, the CST has asked City Commissioners to include an examination of pedestrian access, safety, and the status of sidewalks in Lawrence. If you support improved pedestrian safety in Lawrence, please contact your commissioners, and encourage them to make an audit a priority for 2014. Stay tuned for more information! The Community Sidewalk Taskforce meets the second Wednesday of every month, at 7 PM, in the basement conference room of the Carnegie Building, downtown. We invite all interested parties to attend.

7.    East Village Lawrence project gains momentum, and plans major fundraising event: Eastside Village Lawrence is a developing non-profit dedicated to creating a network of supports following the Village model to make aging at home a long-term, affordable option for older adults living east of Massachusetts Street, including North Lawrence.  Check out their website: www.EastsideVillageLawrence.org Eastside Village’s first major public fundraiser will be held July 18th from 5-7pm at the Union Pacific Depot in North Lawrence. If you are interested in volunteering, please contact Bonnie Uffman (785) 856-0057, bonuff@gmail.com. Eastside Village is looking for individuals with IT, design, fundraising, grant writing and community organizing skills.

8.    Ancient Tree in right-of-way felled; East Lawrence resident reacts: East Lawrence resident K.T. Walsh submitted a letter to City officials, in response to the loss of a historic tree near the community garden at 8th & Pennsylvania Streets. In early June, a contractor’s front loader took down the massive tree that has shaded the area for more than a hundred years. The tree was in the City right of way, which meant that the City had a legal right to cut it down, but many questions remain. Here is an excerpt from KT’s eloquent letter to the City: “Why wasn’t the new sewer line designed to go around the tree?  Why didn’t the subcontractor pause when they saw the thriving, giant tree and contact the adjoining landowner before felling the tree? How can we allow ourselves to be designated as a “Tree City” by the Arbor Day Foundation and claim to value all the benefits of our local trees, but not get the word to the people who design our street projects? Though we have these questions, we have learned some things through this tragedy.  We have learned that we must study very closely any plans the city or developers bring to the neighborhood — at every tree!” 

9.    There is a new Farmer’s Market in West Lawrence! Read about it, here: http://www2.ljworld.com/news/2013/jun/16/new-farmers-market-finding-its-footing/

10. The issue of Tennis Court lights in the Centennial Neighborhood was discussed at the June 4th City Commission meeting. Centennial residents made a strong showing in opposition to the lights, and the City declined to support the LTA’s request for lights. Well done, Centennial! Read more about it here: www2.ljworld.com/weblogs/town_talk/2013/jun/5/homeless-shelter-nearing-capacity-gets-m/

 11. LAN July Meeting: Due to the July 4th holiday, LAN’s July meeting will be held July 11, at 7 PM, in the bank conference room of the Hobbs Taylor Loft building, New Hampshire Street, downtown Lawrence. Here is a tentative agenda—if your neighborhood association has an item you’d like on the agenda, please call 979-3918, or email Laura Routh, LAN Chair, lauridi@hotmail.com

  • Approval of minutes and treasure’s report
  • Report from Michelle Leininger, City of Lawrence
  • Welcome our guest, Commissioner Dr. Terry Riordan
  • Update on downtown redevelopment overlay, and discussion of next steps
  • Update from effectiveness committee
  • Update on sidewalks
  • Update on City Budget – call for volunteers
  • Neighborhood Updates, as needed
  • Feedback for City Hall (Commissioner Jeremy Farmer)

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