Archive for Wednesday, March 21, 2001

Growing changes in Tonganoxie

March 21, 2001

With spring finally arrived, and my husband having put in a new flower bed, I'm thinking about landscaping. The area will have nearly constant summer sun, so the plants will have to be fairly heat resistant. I like colorful plants, so a staple will be the golden glow, a tall plant that sprouts bright yellow flowers in July and August, chrysanthemums for September and October color, and then other choice perennials, as well as annuals, to fill in the rest and provide summer color.

The areas of dense shade will be perfect for varigated ivies and hostas, among other plants. I plan to consult Cindy Murry for more ideas on plantings, because her greenhouse stocks a variety of unusually colorful and hardy perennials.

A good garden requires patience, planning and maintenance.

As the city of Tonganoxie struggles with issues dealing with growth, I'm reminded of the gardener and the perennial search for the perfect garden one that fits in with the landscape, provides beauty, fills its own niche and is as low-maintenance as possible.

When I moved back to my hometown of Tonganoxie in the spring of 1997, it was a small town to which I returned.

That was before the four lanes of U.S. Highway 24-40 from Basehor to Tonganoxie were completed. That was before the city annexed land on the south and east, making way for new subdivisions and more than 100 new residences to date.

That was when one stoplight was enough. That was when you could still buy groceries downtown. That was when all local banking transactions took place at the three banking institutions on Fourth Street. That was when, in the summertime, tall grass grew from the cracks of downtown sidewalks. That was when you could drive from Tonganoxie to Lawrence, rarely meeting a semi-trailer truck and without seeing many other cars.

Obviously, in these last four years, the city has experienced phenomenal growth and change, brought on much in part by the four-lane highway and quicker, easier access to the Kansas City area. And with that change has come, of course, controversy.

What are the city's responsibilities when it comes to planning for growth in residential, commercial and industrial areas? What are the city's responsibilities when it comes to meeting citizens' needs and protecting the businesses and industries that have long been mainstays of the local economy? When the city talks about the comprehensive plan, in which landowners in the county may eventually request to be zoned into the city and categorized into pre-established zoning areas such as industrial or commercial, who or what will be caught in the middle?

There's no easy answer, no quick fix. We're all new at this growth business. After all, the city sat relatively stable throughout the past century. What's worked in the past might not be the best answer for the future.

This little town, which has been referred to as the garden spot of mid-America, whether we want it to or not, is shooting out roots beyond it boundaries.

Tonganoxie is no longer a small town close to cities it's becoming a part of the city itself.

On a magnified scale, planning for a city's growth is like planning for a garden.

Planning for future growth can and should be done. But in order to be most efficient, that planning should be done with as much input from area residents as possible.

Now, with the first spring of the new millennium having officially arrived, it's none too late for citizens and county residents to get involved in cultivating Tonganoxie's future landscape.

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