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Lawrence City Commission To Consider Design Team For 9th Street Corridor Project

courtesy: el dorado inc.

Update: Lawrence residents expressed concerns after reading the entire ArtPlace grant application, which had not been been made available to the public until this week. The grant listed architecture firm el dorado inc. as the lead project designer, but the firm was not officially selected by a committee until this month.

According to a report in the Lawrence Journal-World, city commissioners will be waiting a few weeks to make a decision about hiring the design team. They plan to meet with East Lawrence residents and others to discuss plans for the project.  

Original post follows: 

On the agenda Tuesday for the Lawrence City Commission: a request to authorize a design contract with Kansas City-based el dorado inc. for the controversial 9th Street Corridor project.

In June, the Lawrence Arts Center received a $500,000 Art Place America grant to fund creative placemaking along the corridor.

Some city residents have embraced the project to provide needed upgrades and a connection between downtown and the developing Industrial Historic District (also called Warehouse Arts). Others have been skeptical about the perceived lack of communication. One sticking point: the entire Art Place grant proposal was not made available to the public.

At 3 p.m. Monday, two documents were added to the Commission agenda, including a copy of the grant proposal, with some redactions. According to a memo from City Manager David Corliss’ office: “City staff worked with Susan Tate, CEO of the Lawrence Arts Center, to redact information such as dollar amounts from private donors who did not want their information to become public and salaries of Art Center staff.”

Also attached to the agenda: email correspondence to Corliss in support of the project and the recommended design team headed up by el dorado inc. 

The design selection committee received six proposals. In early November the committee recommended el dorado inc., saying the firm “demonstrated clearly, through like experience, capable and innovative approaches to multi-modal complete street projects that integrate public art.” 

East Lawrence resident Diane Horning wrote that, after attending a presentation in Lawrence by el dorado on November 13, she was “impressed by the firm with their expertise in such projects and by their sensitivity to the community with all its stakeholders.” 

John A. Gascon, also an East Lawrence resident, wrote in support of el dorado and of potential upgrades to 9th Street: “As the most important street connecting downtown to the [Warehouse] arts district, 9th Street presents an opportunity to create something truly special for the neighborhood and the City of Lawrence.”

Although Sally Piller is not a resident of East Lawrence, she wrote that she did "walk, bike and drive this route on a daily basis. This area needs to be ‘rethought’ in any event.”

No email correspondence including objections to the firm or the project were included in the attachment to the agenda. 

The City Commission meeting is scheduled to begin Tuesday at 6:35 p.m. 

Kansas City is known for its style of jazz, influenced by the blues, as the home of Walt Disney’s first animation studio and the headquarters of Hallmark Cards. As one of KCUR’s arts reporters, I want people here to know a wide range of arts and culture stories from across the metropolitan area. I take listeners behind the scenes and introduce them to emerging artists and organizations, as well as keep up with established institutions. Send me an email at lauras@kcur.org or follow me on Twitter @lauraspencer.
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