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Chat about the results of a new survey about Lawrence's recreational facility needs

April 18, 2007

This chat has already taken place. Read the transcript below.

PLAY - Partners for Lawrence Athletics and Youth - released survey results on April 11 that show many city residents want more recreational facilities and are willing to pay additional taxes for them.
According to the survey, 53 percent of the more than 400 respondents are open to the idea of a new sales tax to pay for additional recreational facilities, including an indoor ice arena. An even larger percentage - 62 percent - said they were supportive of increasing the city's tourism tax charged to hotel guests.
Bonnie Lowe, a former Lawrence mayor who is an organizer of PLAY, will chat online with readers at 2:30 p.m. on Wednesday, April 18.

Moderator:

Good afternoon. This is Dennis Anderson, mananging editor of the Lawrence Journal-World. Our guest today is Bonnie Lowe, an organizer of PLAY, Partners for Lawrence Athletics and Youth, which last week released survey results that show many city residents want more recreational facilities and are willing to pay additional taxes for them. Welcome, Bonnie.

Bonnie Lowe:

Thanks Dennis, I appreciate the opportunity to chat!

Moderator:

What do you think the results of the survey mean to the Lawrence community?

Bonnie Lowe:

I feel the community is ready to proceed with the idea of a sports complex in our area. I was particularly pleased to find the level of support in terms of approving options to pay for the complex.

Moderator:

Were there any surprises in the results?

Bonnie Lowe:

The one item I think surprised most people was the level of interest for an indoor ice skating rink. The purpose of the survey was to obtain opinions on a variety of sports venues without being concerned about the cost of the facility and the annual operating expense (at this point). Now, we will analyze those numbers for the various facilities that have generated interest and go from there.

Moderator:

Here come some questions from readers.

macon47:

Bonnie, we remember you handling the loan for our new home when we moved to Lawrence over 15 yrs ago. My how time flies! .
Last fall you mentioned the Project of new rec facilities in a ljw interview like this one..
"In my opinion, a private endowment would be established with the interest used for these items in addition to the collected user fees."
We thought this was a great idea at the time Since it sounded like your projects would be self supporting, has something changed?
It is pretty obvious the taxpayers are struggling with endorsing more of the feel good
" nice " projects like library and such when the city doesn't appear to have the money for the basics?

Bonnie Lowe:

Thanks for the question-and for the loan business! I feel that this project needs to be a true public/private partnership and it was, and still is, my thought to have a private endowment available to help pay for the upkeep, maintenance, salaries and the other costs necessary to run such a complex.

In a perfect world, user fees would pay for 100% of all costs. This expected percentage is one of the financing questions we have asked the consultant to determine. The endowment interest (ideally keeping the principal amount in tact) can be used to make up any shortfall. Having additional private and/or grant funds to help construct the facility will be, of course, welcome.

LarryLawrence:

I would be curious of the methodology of the survey. How were the responders to the survey selected? For example, were they selected geographically, by age, by whether or not they played, or had a child involved in a sports activity.

Bonnie Lowe:

Leisure Vision was contracted by Treanor and their team to conduct the survey. It was an arms-length initiative, meaning the households that received the survey were completely beyond the consultants' and committee's influence. The results are, within a +/- 4.8%, a true statistical sampling of our community. I did notice that 53% of the respondents have only 1-2 persons in their household. The results may have illustrated even greater interest for new/enhanced facilities if the household occupants were a higher number. Further answers to your question could by obtained through Treanor and Associates or Leisure Vision.

Bonnie Lowe:

Leisure Vision was contracted by Treanor and their team to conduct the survey. It was an arms-length initiative, meaning the households that received the survey were completely beyond the consultants' and committee's influence. The results are, within a +/- 4.8%, a true statistical sampling of our community. I did notice that 53% of the respondents have only 1-2 persons in their household. The results may have illustrated even greater interest for new/enhanced facilities if the household occupants were a higher number. Further answers to your question could by obtained through Treanor and Associates or Leisure Vision.

HoosierPride:

Have you looked into having private donors contribute to the project with centers being named for the most generous?

Bonnie Lowe:

Thanks for your question and I feel the receipt of private contributions is a very important aspect of this project. Yes, I have talked in general terms to a few people but nothing specific in terms of dollars. At this point, we don't know what "it" is:.if we're looking at a new complex, upgrade existing facilities, the location, cost, etc. When these specifics are down on paper and we know what we are contemplating, further discussion will ensue. In the meantime, if you have ideas on attracting private or grant funds, I would love to hear them!

j4708:

If the facilities are built, how will it be assured that they are available to all, not just a few special interest groups?

Bonnie Lowe:

If any public funds are used, and the plan will call for this or the project will not move forward, the facilities will be available to the general public. Private club teams (soccer, basketball, volleyball, to name a few) will pay fees to use the facility for practices and games. An interlocal agreement between at least the school district and the city, perhaps with the county as well, will be established to determine fair and reasonable uses of the facilities.

Moderator:

What feedback have you received from city commissioners about the survey?

Bonnie Lowe:

On Monday, Mayor Hack and Commissioner Amyx attended the public meeting outlining the survey results. Other than their comments heard at the meeting, I have not talked to any other elected official about the survey. Thanks for your interest.

HoosierPride:

How does someone go about volunteering for your organization?

Bonnie Lowe:

You can contact me at bonnie@sunflower.com I would appreciate your thoughts and input on this project.

Moderator:

I want to thank Bonnie Lowe for joining us today. I also want to thank our readers for their questions. Please stay tuned to this developing issue.

Bonnie Lowe:

I look forward to the coming weeks as we are provided with considerable information on the look and cost of these facilities. This information should be available by the end of May. Thanks, Dennis.

Comments

average 7 years, 8 months ago

Again, the methodology sucks. Most of those who don't have time to use such facilities got to the first page of the many pages of poorly written multi part problems (rank your interest from one to twenty, etc) and tossed it in the trash. The respondents were the limited number of people who cared (myself included). 218 of 2000 surveys were returned supporting a sales tax. 11%.

SB1 7 years, 8 months ago

When the roads are fixed, the sidewalks repaired and other infrastructure is in shape, then we can talk about additional facilities and costs/taxes.

Until that day, just say no.

Steve Jacob 7 years, 8 months ago

"62 percent - said they were supportive of increasing the city's tourism tax charged to hotel guests"

I love it! A tax that helps me and the city, that is paid for by people who just visit. Kind of like pick-pockets.

KsTwister 7 years, 8 months ago

When my kids insisted they needed it right now...........well, I didn't let them just have it because they needed it! Just because your 14 doesn't mean you get a car from the family rainy day fund.

Why does the city see this as such a rush???!! I haven't seen any LTE that speaks of rotten recreation facilities. Priorities commission, this isn't it.

x96merrill3 7 years, 8 months ago

Average: Where are you getting your return number? I was at the forum on Monday night and the return was 412. Please make sure your info is correct. Margin of error is near 5%.

x96merrill3 7 years, 8 months ago

Please disregard. I see now you are refering to the increased sales tax.

What you must understand is that the 218 that spoke in favor of the increased sales tax is NOT representative of 11% of the population. It is representative of 53% of the populating with a 5% margin of error.

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