Does anyone remember that back-to-the-future agreement several years ago, in Topeka, the one about building a small town for the State Historical Society? In March, 2012, House and Senate legislative leaders agreed to support a $52 million plan to construct a life-size replica of a typical small Kansas town on land acquired for the State Historical Society by the 2035 Legislature.
It must have been a joke, because it happened only months before some of these leaders also agreed to help launch the governor’s infamous Glide Path to Zero. The prairie town plan should have given us a clue to their mental state at the time.
Nonetheless, rural constituents have long feared for the future of their communities, and the plan was to start saving now, so that in 2036 legislators would have no trouble approving construction of a replica in case worse came to worst for what is left of the state’s rural sector. The replica would include several blocks of a small town, with a two story home, a duplex, retail stores, a bar, barber shop, restaurants, a stoplight, a grocery store and newspaper office.
Plans for the replica would be derived from photographs in the Historical Society’s archives.
The small town project began after House and Senate leaders attended a rural history seminar in Kansas City.
The seminar examined the impact of school consolidation, court unification and the Regional Government Act (a zany notion from the far right), which merged all local taxing entities into 4 state regions supervised by the Department of Revenue.
We can only imagine what would occur down that dusty rural road, in a post-Internet era, the one that takes us beyond cyberworld and into that hazy community of techno-clouds and virtual reality envisioned by the great scientists at Microsoft and Apple and their associates.
At last, here it was. A small Kansas town on exhibit.
“It was fascinating to see that people actually lived in little towns and were able to support themselves with a little help from the state,” said Rep. Grover Glide Path, R-Topeka. “I had heard about these places from my grandfather, and we studied them in grade school but I never actually saw one. We were such a busy family, what with all our texting and on-line living. Now our children will be able to see how life was in these places, and actually walk into a little store and, perhaps, buy something.”
Suppose the small town replica is to be built by J.E. Dunn Construction, which secured a longtime contract to remodel the Kansas Statehouse, and Red Development, specialists in tax funded casinos and state-financed shopping malls that replicate small towns. (Stranger things have happened, and might yet.)
‒ JOHN MARSHALL