Lawrence City Commission should delay its review of downtown master plan until August, staff says

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After a steering committee asked for three more weeks to gather and review public comment on the draft Downtown Lawrence master plan, staff is suggesting that the city commission should allow another two months.

Thirteen members of the master plan steering committee voted unanimously Thursday to ask for a delay in order to gather community feedback and consider comments on a draft of the plan, which will be the framework for downtown development for the next two decades.

Many committee members were unhappy with the recent process, saying it moved too fast. Several members said Thursday that they couldn’t in good faith recommend the plan for city commission approval just a few days later without seeing how the consulting firm would incorporate public feedback into a final draft.

If the city commission approves the staff and consultant’s new recommendation on Tuesday, the public comment period will be extended for three more weeks, the steering committee will meet again in early July, and then the consultant will revise the plan to bring it back to the city commission in early August.

As of Saturday, the downtown master plan agenda item had 25 pages of notes and public comment attached.

The Lawrence City Commission in 2018 approved the downtown master plan contract with Houseal Lavigne Associates for a maximum of $110,000. In April 2019, the commission approved an extra $37,070 to expand the scope to include “a more robust community engagement plan to facilitate the development of the plan and ensure that there are opportunities for all voices to be heard.”

The consultant said the extended public comment period and additional steering committee meeting are within the scope of the $147,070 contract, so there would be no additional expense to the city, according to the report in the meeting agenda. Anything beyond that, though, could increase the cost.

Written public comment can be emailed to until noon the day of the meeting to be included in the agenda. Register at this link to provide public comment during the meeting.

The commission will meet at 5:45 p.m. Tuesday, June 1. The full meeting agenda is available here. Watch the meeting live on the city’s webpage or its YouTube page.

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