Posted April 22nd 2010 at 10:58 pm by
in Lawrence

Lawrence Practicum Class Holds Public Meeting in Lawrence to Present Findings on City Alleyways & Canals

On March 29th, practicum students held the first public meeting of the semester in Lawrence to discuss transforming the city’s alleyways and canals into community assets.  11 people attended, including the City’s Director of Economic Development, Patrick Blanchette, and the Director of Community Development, Jim Barnes.

First, students presented initial findings from their inventory of the city’s 79 alleyways:

65% of alleyways are grounds for dumping of large trash, such as electronics, car tires, and furniture.

23% of alleyways have graffiti.

27% of alleyways are located in commercial areas; 19% are in residential areas, and 53% are in mixed-use areas (both commercial and residential).

22% of alleyways are fully paved, 23% are unpaved, and 55% are both paved and unpaved.

After presenting “best practices” for alleyway revitalization projects from other cities, students shared what they had uncovered about Lawrence’s canals and dam:

1. Mill powers: A mill power is a legal right to use a certain quantity of water over a certain period of time to generate power. Only a limited number of mill powers were created when the Great Stone Dam and mills were established. The total mill powers range from approximately 98 to 133 and the length of Enel’s lease for the mill powers (initiated in 1980) is 40 to 65 years. There appear to be some mill powers not in use, which could potentially be utilized for a demonstration project.

2. Canal Maintenance Fund: Although there is a canal maintenance fund of $1,200 per year per mill power, the canal is neglected and in disrepair. Many questions remain, among them: Is Enel contributing to the fund regularly?

Attendees then divided into three groups to brainstorm possible future solutions for Lawrence’s alleys and canals. Following a re-convening of the groups and continued discussion, attendees agreed that next steps for the practicum members would include increased engagement of community members and mill owners around questions of alleyway and canal revitalization, development of a typology of alleyways intended to help the City think through possible ownership scenarios, and investigation of the use of canal maintenance funds. To be continued…

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