Citizen Voices


**All letters were submitted as part of public record and/or permission obtained to distribute**

“All of this demolition and construction led to talk about whether nearby East 9th Street was about to “Blow-up.” Tourism bureaus and hipsters like to announce that a place is about to “Blow-up” when a formerly uncool (usually working-class) neighborhood sees the influx of foodie food trucks, art galleries and lofts. Lofts!”  – “Is the Wishing Bench a Canary in the Coalmine?,” blog post by Dave Loewenstein

“It is obvious to many of us that the proposed corridor is nothing more than a slick attempt to create a safe and inviting entertainment corridor from downtown business to new business interests in the eastern neighborhood.” –  Letter presented to Lawrence City Commission on July 17, 2016

“I am writing to voice my support for scaled-back plan for E. 9th Street.” – Letter sent to Lawrence City Commission on July 15, 2016

“As an East Lawrence resident and artist, who’s studio has been on East 9th St. for eighteen years, I support a compromise for the East 9th St. project that limits it to general street and sidewalk repair from New Hampshire to Pennsylvania.”  – Letter emailed to Lawrence City Commissioners on July 15, 2016

“As a community, we need to put equity before extras, and people values before property values. Making this tough decision is the right thing to do. It will save precious financial resources for more pressing community needs, and will ensure that East 9th Street continues to be the affordable, historic, and beloved place for residents, neighbors and small businesses that it has been for generations.” – Letter presented at May 24, 2016 City Commission meeting

“Given a choice b/t bike lanes and bike paths, I would add a 3rd choice, take bike route off 9th and put it on 8th and 10th to get downtown. That is what I hear both bike experts and bike novices wanting. And BAC also asked how it fits into the safe routes to schools program.”“East 9th Street Evaluations & Recommendations”, Letter presented at the final Citizen Advisory Committee meeting. | March 30, 2016. 

“The Ninth Street Corridor project is by and for outside interests.  No one from the neighborhood was involved in its inception, nor requested it. It was only through public pressure that any neighborhood representatives have been given token roles to play. Still, no one from the neighborhood has a position in final decision making.” – “Pull the Plug,” Letter submitted to the City Commission by John Naramore, former East Lawrence resident and East 9th property owner | June 19, 2015

“To ensure that the character and expression of the neighborhood is guided by those who live there, we propose that at least 50% of the projects outlined in the APM be led by Lawrence artists (with at least one Lawrence artist in each of the three sections of the APM), and at least half of those led by East Lawrence artists. To make the most of the potential creative exchange that can take place during this process, we propose that all art projects outlined in the APM include paid assistant artists from Lawrence. This will be great experience and training for our local artists and will give any lead artists who are not from Lawrence essential insights into the place they are working.” – Letter from 140  Lawrence residents to the City Commission | June 21, 2015

Regarding September 2015 request from the Lawrence Arts Center for an additional $100,000 in funding (to be taken from a “transient guest tax” budgetary item, that has not implemented an application process as of yet) “There is no mention of the Free State Festival in the March, April, May, June 3 or June 27 minutes.

In fact, the first mention of the Free State Festival is in the July 29 minutes and those are denials that the street project is being built for any specific venue. Those minutes state, “The grant says that the street will be the showcase for Free State Festival events.” Response: “The specific direction that was given to el dorado was to incorporate language about the project not becoming an entertainment corridor in a way that stood out and wasn’t buried within the document. The design team would  never pursue this project as a sanctioned entertainment corridor”. – Phil Collison 9th Street CAC member, ELNA Board Member, and property owner along 9th street in affected area | Letter to City Commissioners, September 14, 2015

“East Lawrence is a place of vernacular architecture –the words “we built it” describe the common thread of our homes, our stories, where we come from, and where we hope to be. The 9th street project should capture this essence of local craftsmanship, pride, and the beauty found in creation from necessity. It ought to be about the people who ‘built it ourselves’ and can only be about those people if they are hired to design and do the work.” –  Letter from the East Lawrence Neighborhood Association (ELNA) to the City Commission | June 23, 2015 

Any bozo knows that once someone ‘brands’ something, that ‘something’ changes in to a bought/sold commodity – changing/altering/often destroying the original culture that birthed it to begin with. I’m sure that’s, in many ways, what many of us ‘fear’ in the long run as this project gains momentum.”Sara Rooney, East Lawrence resident, Letter to Lawrence City Commission | June 16, 2015

“The power of East Lawrence comes from the ground up; it is a power, hard won by those tireless attendees of commission meetings. It is a power earned and vetted by a long history of East Lawrence underdogs and I believe that power can and will be sustained by your unwavering stewardship (dare I say love) of this place.” –Nicholas Ward, local  artist/filmmaker, Letter to ELNA

“It’s disingenuous to criticize East Lawrence for wanting to have a say in what happens in our neighborhood. Would anyone stand by while other people make plans for them?””Another problem is that a real estate developer has been involved in attempting to buy properties along East Ninth Street. This developer is also on the board of directors at the Lawrence Arts Center. Isn’t this a conflict of interest?” – Frank Janzen, Letter to The Editor, Lawrence Journal-World | January 3, 2015

” the East Lawrence Neighborhood Association (ELNA) was not consulted in the development of the actual ArtPlace and Our Town grants related to East 9th Street. Concerns about this lack of agency in the process, led ELNA to initiate forums for discussion around the project’s implications, including facilitated public meetings and a three-hour “Imagine East 9th Street” event.” – Dave Loewenstein, Letter to The Editor, Lawrence Journal-World | January 30, 2015

“If you really want to see what a neighborhood thinks of your re-building their community without participation…why don’t you announce that you are going to move the East 9th Street Arts Corridor and call it the West 8th St Arts Corridor from Tennessee to Mississippi.” Jim McCrary and Sue Ashline, Letter to City Commission | December 23, 2014

“We should do everything we can to empower ELNA to have the major influence on this project that the East Lawrence community deserves, including approval authority.” –  Eric Kirkendall, Lawrence Creates Makerspace Director, Letter to City Commission

“Bringing the “arts” into East Lawrence and improving infrastructure along Ninth Street are fine ideas that few would object to. But if the nature and intensity of commercial activity changes forever the residential nature of the neighborhood, what has the city gained? And just as importantly, what have the current residents of the neighborhood gained?”  – Mick Palmer, Letter to The Editor, Lawrence Journal-World | June 19, 2015

“While I can appreciate the concept of an arts district, this is not about art but more about future development and the gentrification of our neighborhood.”  – Cindy Trask, East Lawrence resident,  Letter to The Editor, Lawrence Journal-World | May 14, 2015

I personally view the corridor project as nothing more than an attempt to commercially develop and gentrify the north end of our neighborhood by Tony Krsnich and Doug Compton, with the city and taxpayers riding shotgun, and the developers doing no more than hiding behind the skirts of ‘the arts,’ while pretending they know something about ‘culture,’ and its continuity.”Mark Kaplan, East Lawrence resident, Letter to ELNA,  | May 4, 2015

“These glaring oversights continue a pattern that has eroded trust and confidence in this project for many residents. To address these issues, I urge you to not accept the Work Plan tonight.  Much more work on it needs to be done before it embodies the high value we place on our precious historic neighborhoods, and celebrates our rich and diverse local arts and cultural community.” – Dave Loewenstein, local artist, East Lawrence resident and member of the Citizen Advisory Committee for the East Ninth Project, Letter to City Commissioner | June 21, 2015

“I’m here today as one of those artists, those dreamers of dreams, to urge consideration in your E. 9th Street dealings, and any future projects.  You cannot force culture.  You cannot manufacture authenticity.  And you cannot exploit the very people who have made this town what it is.  We are not to be written off as naysayers.  We are not over-reacting or getting in the way of progress.  We are voting, tax-paying citizens who urge consideration of ALL citizens, inclusiveness, and long-range thinking.  If you want your so-called arts district to sincerely thrive and live on, consider the people, consider the future, consider what it takes to be a working artist, a low-income family, a student, a single mother, a middle-income couple, all of us.  We are what make up this specific place at this specific time and our cries for silly things like grocery stores, laundromats, health care, and well-paying day jobs fell on deaf ears before, but  consider these things before you drive throngs of culture-seekers through our streets.  Consider how day-to-day living happens just outside this proposed corridor before you try and sell us on the benefits.  But, if this is just about money, by all means, ignore the very people you’re relying on to cash in on culture.” – Jill Ensley, local artist and East Lawrence resident, public comment given at January 20, 2015 City Commission meeting  

Jill Ensley, blog post “100,000. On a Good Day”   | June 28th, 2015

“Let us work. Let us put to use in Arts District projects the skills and assets that built the quirky homes and art, the vernacular housing that is touted in your very grant proposal. Let East Lawrence contractors pour the new sidewalks. Let East Lawrence artists paint the new murals. Let us make the stained glass windows, decorate the galleries, repair the chimneys, and write the visitors guides. Give East Lawrence craftsmen and women every opportunity to make money and art and earn the grant dollars you will spend on the Cultural Arts District. Put East Lawrence representatives on your design and hiring teams. Publicize in our channels of communication any and all calls for proposals. Give East Lawrencians precedence over other applicants. Follow these instructions, and you can make my reservations, my “ick” go away.” – Lane Eisenbart, ELNA Coordinator and East Lawrence resident, blog post,  “A Letter To The Powers That Be” | August 2, 2014


USDAC_logo“No long-term good can come from a plan that is supported by developers and implemented over the objections of the people who are directly affected. Across the country, there are countless stories of such displacement resulting in housing former residents cannot afford, businesses that local enterprise can’t compete with, and a profound sense of loss for everyone who has come to know and cherish the cultural fabric which took so long to weave, and was so quick to unravel.”

U.S. Department of Arts and Culture, Letter to the Lawrence City Commission | June 22, 2015