Archive for Thursday, September 14, 2006

Memorial in search of an architect

September 14, 2006

Mike Howell needs an architect.

It's an architect - or rather, the lack thereof - that's preventing progress on the Lansing Memorial to Veterans, said Howell, commander of Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 12003 and the creator of the memorial concept.

The memorial's design is ready, Howell said, but it needs to be translated into technical plans before construction can begin. And finding a specialist who is willing to take on the project for free has proven much more difficult than Howell expected.

"We're ready to come up here with shovels by ourselves. And we can do about half of it self-help," Howell said of himself and those who back the project. "It's not like there's no support.

"But we gotta have those final plans."

In his presentation to Lansing City Council at its meeting on Thursday, Sept. 7, Howell talked of his frustration and determination with the project. Howell originally planned to have the monument up within six months of its conception nearly two years ago.

Support has been broad for the memorial from both individuals and businesses. Howell said there had even been architects who had volunteered to make the plans for the project, but that each time architects surfaced, they had quickly vanished. And explanations varied: the last hopeful was transferred to Alaska.

The project is now in limbo because it has not raised enough money to pay an architect to author the plans, which Howell said could cost between $5,000 and $6,000.

"I really thought I could walk in and that people would just jump on these bricks and we'd have 2,500 bricks sold in no time," Howell said.

But some, like Council member Ken Ketchum, were skeptical about the original timeline from the start.

Ketchum said that he too was eager to see the memorial completed, but suggested Howell adopt a longer-range plan for the project, adding that five to six years was more realistic than six months.

Howell, however, still hopes the project won't take that long.

"I'm still optimistic," Howell said, brushing off the delays. "I'm not gonna get down about it."

But however long it takes, Howell is determined to see the project through to the end.

"I've never really thought about just dropping it," Howell said. "There have been a few times when I've sat back and thought, 'Do I have what it takes to get this done?'

"And it's always been, 'Yeah. Get off your tail and get to work.'"

In other action, the council:

¢ Approved, 7-0, with Council member Dave Trinkle absent, minutes from the Aug. 17 council meeting.

¢ Heard a proclamation by Mayor Ken Bernard dedicating Sept. 16, 2006, as Kids Day America.

¢ Heard an update from Ken Miller, Main Street Project liaison. Miller said the project was on schedule as planned.

¢ Approved, 7-0, a motion appointing City Administrator Mike Smith, Bernard and Council member Ketchum as voting delegates to the League of Kansas Municipalities and appointing Council member Andi Pawlowski as an alternate.

¢ Approved, 7-0, an ordinance amending the city traffic code to adds motor carrier safety regulations.

¢ Approved, 7-0, a resolution supporting the Safe Routes to School Program.

¢ Defeated, 3-4, with Council members Billy Blackwell, Don Studnicka, Janette Labbee-Holdeman and Harland Russell opposed, a motion waiving all except the parkland fees for the Rocky Ridge subdivision final plat. The proposal plats a single 15-acre lot for the construction of a single family residence in a rural area.

¢ Approved, 4-3, with Council members Ketchum, Dee Hiniger and Pawlowski opposed, a motion waiving all fees for the Rocky Ridge subdivision final plat.

¢ Approved, 6-1, with Council member Labbee-Holdeman opposed, an ordinance rezoning lots 1 through 15 and Tract A of Lansing Business Center for commercial business use.

¢ Approved, 7-0, a motion directing the city administrator and mayor to complete a contract for services with the city attorney.

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