Thousands sign online petition to support bar

One by one, they put their memories in print.

"I met my fiancee at the Crossing," Jason McDaniels wrote.

"Please don't do this," Ted Martin begged. "My first kiss was there."

Since the weekend, these comments and thousands of others have poured into a Web site dedicated to saving The Crossing, 618 W. 12th St., a popular college bar that could be gone as soon as next year.

The petition site, started by Robert Gieser, has been flooded since it was launched, garnering more than 2,500 signatures and comments from students, professors and Lawrence residents past and present.

"Apparently, the word has been spreading around the Internet," Gieser said in an e-mail to the Journal-World. Beyond a short e-mail, Gieser couldn't be reached to explain who he was or why he was so interested in the bar.

The Journal-World reported last week that Manhattan-based developer Robert Pottroff had purchased the building that houses The Crossing and planned to raze it to make room for a new, multistory tower with offices, condos and retail.

Since then, those with fond memories of the bar have written to the Web site and another Save The Crossing MySpace page as a way to mourn its possible closing.

But not all comments on the Web site eulogize the popular campus-area watering hole. The Save The Crossing online petition has become a sounding board for those venting about the possibility of losing a favorite local bar.

The signatures include some recognizable ones: The names of former Kansas University basketball player Eric Chenowith and coach Roy Williams appear there. Are they real? Maybe, maybe not.

Some are funny: Willie the Wildcat and Hulk Hogan, for starters. Jeffrey Lebowski, the fictional character from the movie "The Big Lebowski," also chimed in with a signature line from the film: "This will not stand, man, this aggression will not stand."

But the majority of comments on the site seem more authentic and express everything from disappointment to flat-out anger.

"Screw up your own town," Andrew Fray wrote.

Bar owner Dave Boulter said he hadn't heard about the Web site yet, but said he was heartened by the response to word of the bar's possible closing.

But Pottroff now owns the property, so the bar's future may rest in the developer's hands.

"It shows The Crossing is quite a landmark," Boulter said. "But I don't know if it's going to change anything."

Boulter said he still hoped a compromise could be worked out with the new owner that would allow the bar to stay open.

He said he wouldn't mind seeing The Crossing reconstructed inside whatever new building Pottroff builds there - an idea Pottroff has said he likes.

Pottroff is expected to submit plans for the site to City Hall this week.

"Progress is going to come to us," Boulter said. "And sometimes, that's a good thing."


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