Archive for Thursday, August 17, 2006

Leavenworth to Lansing: Tepid support for museum

August 17, 2006

Lansing Mayor Kenneth Bernard has received a letter of support for the proposed Kansas Regional Prisons Museum from the Leaven-worth City Commission.

But the Leavenworth commissioners' support is qualified.

They say they support establishment of a museum "archiving and celebrating the considerable history of the Lansing Correctional Facility" - ignoring the fact the museum also is planned to include displays on the nearby U.S. Penitentiary at Leavenworth, the U.S. Disciplinary Barracks at Fort Leavenworth and the Corrections Corporation of America prison in Leaven-worth.

The Leavenworth commissioners' letter also asks that the name "Leavenworth not be associated with the facility envisioned by your group, nor used in any promotional material."

Earlier this summer, Lansing Mayor Kenneth Bernard appeared before the Leavenworth City Commission seeking its support for the regional prisons museum plan. The idea for the museum has been around for some time, and a year ago Bernard appointed an advisory committee to study how to turn the idea into a reality.

Since then, a feasibility study has been conducted that shows such a museum would be an attractive tourist destination.

But this spring, plans for a crime museum surfaced in Leavenworth, prompting Bernard's visit with the Leavenworth commissioners.

The Leavenworth commissioners' letter makes reference to the crime museum and reserves "our unfettered support for the establishment of a crime and/or prison museum celebrating the long and storied heritage of incarceration within the institutions that have claimed Leavenworth as their home for generations."

Bernard said Wednesday the letter - which was distributed this week to Lansing City Council members - wasn't surprising to him.

"I didn't expect overwhelming support," he said.

Asked whether Lansing would change anything about its regional prisons museum plans, Bernard said, "Nothing. We will proceed on what we're doing."

Mike Smith, Lansing's city administrator and a proponent of the regional prisons museum plans, said it makes no sense to back off now.

"We've got support from all the wardens of all the prisons" to participate in the regional prisons museum, Smith said.

The Lansing advisory committee, which includes wardens of all four of the regional prisons, is scheduled to meet at noon Friday, Aug. 18, at The Overlook restaurant, 720 First Terrace.

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