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On City approves development agreement, tax abatement for $25M Rock Chalk Park recreation center

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Jerry Harper 1 year, 9 months ago

       Ten Things To Know About the 181,00 Square Foot ‘Recreation’ Center
  1. Did you know that the National Parks and Recreation Association (NRPA) ‘standards’ for a city of 90,000s calls for only 18 basketball courts? (1 per 5,000 population located within 1/4-1/2 mile)

  2. Did you know that proponents erroneously claimed over and over again that these very same standards showed Lawrence to have a shortfall of 18-20 basketball courts (and continued to do so right up until the moment Chad Lawhorn’s story in the Journal-World debunked that tale)?

  3. Did you know that the NRPA ‘standards’ provide for inclusion of school gyms in determining the number of available basketball courts?

  4. Did you know that Lawrence, like many cities, has an agreement with the school district to use its gymnasiums for recreational purposes in order to “maximize facility use and programming?”

  5. Did you know that the city only uses 3 or 4 school district courts even though there are at least 25 school district courts -- all of which could be used at various times?

  6. Did you know that Lawrence presently has over 40 indoor basketball courts and over 10 outdoor basketball courts either available to the public now or available with a little cooperation – almost three times the National ‘standard’?

  7. Did you know that the indoor recreation needs of over 25% of Lawrence population (KU students and faculty) are already served by the Ambler Recreation Center and Robinson Center with their 4 full-size basketball courts (8 practice courts) and many other accoutrements? http://www.recreation.ku.edu/~recserv/facilities/srfc.shtml

  8. Did you know that most city-run basketball programs in this region have 6 or 7 game seasons, just like Lawrence? (And some Lawrence leagues have a 6-game fall and 6-game winter season, and some a 6-game spring season)?

  9. Did you know that not all of the basketball leagues in Lawrence filled up this year?

  10. Did you know that by making better use of the 40+ basketball courts in the city, you could accommodate longer league seasons without building a single new court?

jhawkinsf 1 year, 9 months ago

In the couple of weeks this petition has been going around, about 450 people signed. Compare that number with the number of people who voted in the primary, 5,390 if memory serves, and knowing that the 5,390 represented only 8.6% of eligible voters, it seems like the petition is lacking in credibility (less than 1% of eligible voters).

It's becoming more and more clear to me that the frequent posters here represent a very small and very vocal minority of the population. The overwhelming majority of Lawrence's voters are completely apathetic to this project and to Lawrence government in general.

I signed the petition in the hopes it would generate enough support to hold an election where the wishes of the majority might be heard. The majority has spoken. Their silence is deafening.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 1 year, 9 months ago

Given the low turnout that elected this commission, and the low turnout in the latest election, the soon-to-be 500 signatures on this very low-key, online (only) petition drive indicates a good deal of opposition to this project. (not that this commission gives a damn what most people think about it.)

jhawkinsf 1 year, 9 months ago

Given a couple of hot button topics that have come before this city commission, one might have expected a better turnout in this primary (8.6%) than in the previous election (16%). Sadly, that did not happen. I'd be thrilled if the election itself produced a number substantially higher than past numbers. I'd have been thrilled if the petition had produced numbers that rivaled even the primary numbers. After all, all it would take is the click of a mouse. No registration, no voter I.D. Instead, what we getting is a disappointing number followed by another, followed by another.

I stand by my statement that what we see in this forum in no way represents the wishes of the majority. It's nothing more than the loud shouts of a small minority.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 1 year, 9 months ago

Well, there was major snowstorm the day before the election. Not that it matters to your contention that nothing matters and all is lost and we should all just assimilate already.

jhawkinsf 1 year, 9 months ago

When I voted, I pulled out my driver's license, which was right behind my AARP card. How difficult could it have been?

That aside, I have no problem with you or any other person carrying on this fight. But as you demand honesty from supporters and are quick to point out dishonesty, I find it interesting that you portray your position as that of the majority. It clearly is not. The majority has been silent, despite repeated opportunities to be heard.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 1 year, 9 months ago

" It clearly is not. "

There isn't anything clear about this. The apathy of voters is disconcerting, but it doesn't prove anything about any particular issue or project, no matter how badly you want to spin that in support of your cynicism.

jhawkinsf 1 year, 9 months ago

Are you claiming to speak for those who have made a choice to be silent?

jhawkinsf 1 year, 9 months ago

All I'm saying is that by remaining silent, they've chosen to remain silent. When 84% of eligible voters remain silent, there is no way to spin the remaining 16% into a claim to be representing the majority.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 1 year, 9 months ago

More accurately, there's no way to spin the low turnout into a justification for the flawed and non-transparent process that this travesty of a project has been from the start, however hard you want to try.

jhawkinsf 1 year, 9 months ago

The process they are using is flawed, no argument. However, calling for a city wide referendum, as if that's what you will get, is equally flawed. When 8%+1 vote one way or the other, it means absolutely nothing. The results may reflect the attitude of the population in general. Or not. But probably not, with 84% choosing to remain silent. Apathy is what should win, not yes, not no.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 1 year, 9 months ago

So, if apathy rules we should just call everything off and go to the bar, right? No rec center, no anything else.

elliottaw 1 year, 9 months ago

Problem is that only a few of the schools allow their courts to be used for outside of school events. I wish this rec center would have more things for the public and wasn't just a giant set of basketball courts, I would have loved to seen some racquetball courts and climbing walls, things to that nature

Jerry Harper 1 year, 9 months ago

The problem is lack of cooperation between local units of government. Absolutely no reason the City and School District can't work out agreement to use more than just the Middle Schools.

tecuani 1 year, 9 months ago

You can't use all of the grade schools for games. They are not designed for spectators, and if you have been to any recreation games you would know that there are usually quite a few spectators at these games.

For example, one of our newest schools, Langston Hughes is probably the only school that could host a basketball game because it has the biggest gym of all the grade schools. Even then it would be relatively tight as there is no room for spectators.

If you want to see what I am talking about, go to a CYO game at St. John. They host games there and attempt to provide seating for spectators. It is always very full with seating right next to the court and people spilling out into the hallway.

Jerry Harper 1 year, 9 months ago

                                                          Ten More Things To Know
  1. Did you know that the NRPA distance-to-basketball-court ‘standards’ call for them to be located within1/4-1/2 mile of the potential users? See standards above

  2. Did you know that building the proposed ‘recreation’ center would locate over 70% of the city’s indoor recreation facilities in the far NW reaches of the city –miles from most of the population?

  3. Did you know that it would take at least 20 minutes to get from the SE corner of Lawrence to the proposed ‘recreation’ center (over 9 miles)?

  4. Did you know that the proposed ‘recreation’ center will actually be closer in time (14 minutes) and distance (8 miles) to Lecompton than it is to residents in the SE part of Lawrence?

  5. Did you know that the proposed ‘recreation’ center would be a staggering 9 times larger than any one of the other three city recreation center?

  6. Did you know that Lawrence actually has 3 times as many city-owned gyms as other cities in the 80,000-100,000 population category nationwide according to NRPA data?

  7. Did you know that nationwide cities in the 80,000-100,000 population range have a median size recreation center of 25,000 square feet and those with larger center only average 39,000 square feet according to NRPA data (and Lawrence proposed to build a 181,000 sq. ft. facility)?

  8. Did you know that the $25,000 “feasibility study” supporting the ‘recreation’ center was premised on the city working in partnership with KU Athletics and Bill Self’s Foundation to promote it as a site for basketball tournaments in order to succeed – even though that is specifically prohibited by the NCAA? “It is our understanding that the City of Lawrence is contemplating a public-private partnership to develop a youth sports complex with potential partners including the City, the University of Kansas, the Assist Foundation (Bill and Cindy Self) and others.”

  9. Did you know that the firm making the feasibility study stated that the City should not rely upon its projections? “Because procedures were limited, we express no opinion or assurances of any kind on the achievability of any projected information contained herein and this report should not be relied upon for that purpose.”

  10. Did you know that the feasibility study projections assumed that the proposed ‘recreation’ facility would host 50 tournaments, clinics and camps each year – more than one every weekend excluding holidays?

Jerry Harper 1 year, 9 months ago

                                                          And Another Ten To Know
  1. Did you know that hosting that many events will make it almost impossible for Lawrence residents to use the facilities on any weekends and many weekdays?

  2. Did you know that, when KU hosts events, e.g. track meets, and when Fritzel’s Bliss Foundation hosts events, it will be almost impossible for Lawrence residents to use the 'recreation' center?

  3. Did you know that Lawrence will have to compete for tournaments with nearby Johnson County, which already has two large, multi-court facilities, (and a third on the way), and with the developers of the Legends shopping area in Wyandotte County, who are building a 14-basketball-court facility in Wichita?

  4. Did you know that, if the feasibility study is wrong (and it most assuredly is), Lawrence taxpayers will have to pick up all operating costs (estimated at $1,000,000?

  5. Did you know that the new, so-called ‘competitive-bidding’ requirement for the ‘recreation’ center doesn’t save Lawrence a single penny because the city pays $25-million to the Endowment Assn./KU Athletics no matter what the bid (unless – fat chance – the bids on the center and on the infrastructure come in far, far below projections)?

  6. Did you know that any savings on the recreation center simply increase by an equal amount the proportion of the infrastructure costs that the City must pay?

  7. Did you know that not one dime of economic development money or hotel/motel tax money -will be used to pay for the proposed ‘recreation’ center or any shortfall in operating expenses – even though its gargantuan size was originally justified on economic development and tourism grounds and its avowed purpose is to put ‘heads in beds?’

  8. Did you know you that you can build the same recreation center – but with 3 or 4 courts – and add an additional court to Holcom and to East Lawrence (giving you a total of 9 or 10 full size city courts) located to serve all areas of the city far more conveniently and for less money than the proposed ‘recreation’ center?

  9. Did you know that the 1994 vote for a 1-cent sales tax for health & recreation facilities said absolutely nothing about using that money for economic development or to put more “heads in beds” for the hotel/motel industry?

  10. Did you know that historically major-local-capital-improvement projects have been voted upon by the public? E.g.:

    • Douglas County Courthouse – 1899
    • Library – 1903, 1970, 2010
    • City Hall – c. 1977
    • Bus tax – 2008
    • School bonds – 2013 (and many times before)

arch007bak 1 year, 9 months ago

All good info Jerry. I am curious about one thing. Do your stats about the number of courts take into consideration court size? In other districts such as Blue Valley, Leavenworth, Olathe, Lee's Summit and others I've been involved with, the elementary schools usually have smaller courts not good for adult use. If Lawrence's elementary schools do, I'd be interested to know.

Bob Forer 1 year, 9 months ago

Why are elementary school courts not good for adult use. Reminds me of the scene in "Hoosiers" when Gene Hackman and team arrive in the big city, and he has his players measure the height of the goal. Ten feet, just like at home.

I am sure the lanes are the same width and the free throw lines are 15 feet, just like the big boys.

And by the way, most adults who play recreational ball are affiliated with KU and play in campus leagues on campus.

Sure, some of the older courts in schools might not be long enough to qualify as "official courts", but come now, we are talking about recreation, not the NCAA tournament. And besides, the vast majority of the participants in city leagues are kids, and not adults.

Arch, please articulate specifically how these courts are "smaller" and why they are not sufficient for adult recreational use?

arch007bak 1 year, 9 months ago

My reply seems to be not wanting post...try again.

You're correct about shorter in length. Most are too short to qualify for use by HS (and maybe JH/MS although I'm not sure). I've seen some where the center court circle nearly touched the 3-point arc. Many are far too short to qualify for state-sanctioned tourneys.

Again, I was just asking the question about court sizes here in Lawrence.

Bob Forer 1 year, 9 months ago

When you say "qualify" I ask, "qualify for what." You're right, they are too short for AAU sanctioned tourneys. But why in the hell should we taxpayers fund a gym so Fritzel can make a pile of cash. As Jerry Harper aptly points out above, the suggestion that a major facility will bring in enough tournaments to justify the taxpayer's investment is dubious, at best.

So that leaves us with the other rationalization the Commissioners articulated--recreation facilities for the citizens. Recreation? Translation: City league and pick-up games, and shoot arounds. Informal three on three games. How are the many unused yet available facilities in town inadequate for garden variety recreation. Especially when the alternative is a cool 25 million dollars in taxpayer expense. That's nearly $400 for every man, woman and child who lives in Lawrence that is not a college student, and doesn't even include ongoing operating expenses. That's a lot of money for a handful of Lawrencians to be able to feel cool about playing on an "Official court." Hell, with that logic, let's go further and build Wimbledon quality clay tennis courts for the handful of tennis mavens in town. And while we are at it, let's redo all of the softball and baseball diamonds in town and equip them with warning tracks, grass infields, and locker rooms.

Bob Forer 1 year, 9 months ago

Tile is fine for a bunch of younger kids. Schedule the younger kids in the gyms with tile floors and the oldest kids in the better gyms.

Jerry Harper 1 year, 9 months ago

The NRPA 'standards' take into account the different size of courts for different age groups. Elementary school courts are appropriately sized for leagues for that age group. That, in turn, frees up the other courts for middle school, high school, adult leagues.

Bob Forer 1 year, 9 months ago

Bravo, Jerry Harper. Thank you for the efforts in putting your message together. It's sad the the folks of Lawrence, with over 40 per cent of adults having graduated from college, while bright and rational and well possessed of common sense, are too scared to challenge the powers that be, at least not in an organized method.

Yeah, those damn community organizers, those Obama types, are dangerous people.

flyin_squirrel 1 year, 9 months ago

Did you know we cannot use the courts at the Grade Schools, Junior High's and HS's because they are in use for student activities after school, and we don't have the funding to staff every grade school, Junior High, and HS with a staff member until 10 p.m. ?

Yes we have school gyms but you cannot use them.

Jerry Harper 1 year, 9 months ago

Of course, that is apparently not the case. Parks and Recs uses the Middle School gyms for league play now. No reason others can't be used. Just a matter of cooperation and careful scheduling. Done all over the country.

tecuani 1 year, 9 months ago

There is a very good reason others cannot be used. MS and HS courts are made to host spectators. Most if not all of the grade school gyms are not.

From your comments you:

a) Have never coached a youth basketball team in Lawrence or,

b) Have never had a kid in youth basketball in Lawrence or,

c) Have never been to one of the grade school gyms in Lawrence.

If you have, you would realize they aren't designed to host competitions.

While I don't support the massive new rec center half way to Topeka, I do think we need more courts for competitions AND practices in Lawrence.

arch007bak 1 year, 9 months ago

What a load of bull Schumm. KU would put their part of this in Wyandotte Co.?

People on here have commented that KU needs their part of this to stay in good standings with the Big XII when it comes to outdoor sporting venues other than football and baseball. Most also seem to agree that KU needs to get the track out of Memorial Stadium. How do you think the Big XII would react to KU putting this so far away from the main campus? Maybe other major universities have done something like that but I'd guess not. IMO, KU would never consider such a thing.

I'm not saying I don't support the idea of this overall but I'd guess your support has next to nothing to do with that concern.

Bob Forer 1 year, 9 months ago

"Maybe other major universities have done something like that but I'd guess not."

You are being too solicitous to the commissioners. Why in the world would a University in the midwest, where land is abundant, build a major and costly facility miles and miles from their campus.

Bob Forer 1 year, 9 months ago

Furthermore, there is an ongoing and organized movement towards "sustainability" at major universities. Part of the calculus includes standards to ensure that new building are designed with a view towards minimal adverse environmental impact. Of course, any new facilities for college students and athletes miles from campus and in another locale would be laughed at by KU's peers, especially when KU already owns plenty of undeveloped land on West Campus, notwithstanding the fact that where the city limits of Lawrence ends, vast empty and unimproved fields abound.

NO WAY in a million years would KU allow one of their athletic facilities to be built far outside of Lawrence. To even raise that trial balloon is a slap in the face to all of us, even the few intellectually challenged.

dinglesmith 1 year, 9 months ago

There's one big purple reason why KU would not open an athletics facility that's not in close proximity to campus. It opens the door for K-State to do the same and that would eat into KU's market.

Lawrence Morgan 1 year, 9 months ago

Thank you so much for that posting, JerryLHarper!

I can't believe the city commission has done this.

Bob Forer 1 year, 9 months ago

"The commissioners said they approved the project — which would include track and field, soccer and softball stadiums for Kansas University — because they felt it was important to the overall health of the community"

Okay, so at first the commissioners were salivating over Rock Chalk Park because it was such a great financial opportunity and thus an "offer they couldn't refuse." Months have passed, a lot of information has been revealed publicly, and now its very apparent that it's not a great financial deal after all. So instead of taking pause and exclaiming, "whoops, we may be mistaken," they simply invent a new rationalization for their "yes" votes. "It's for all of you--my good citizens. We care about your health."

“I think there is a potential for the university, our largest employer, to be damaged by not moving forward with this project,” Commissioner Mike Dever said. Another new concern, with absolutely no explanation as to how KU might be damaged, other than the fact that a no vote would prevent KU and Fritzel from getting into the pockets of the Lawrence taxpayers.

''City commissioners, however, said it was difficult to create a traditional financial analysis for the project because it is not driven by the number of jobs it will directly create but rather by the number of visitors it may bring to the community and other indirect benefits"

Absolute nonsense. "Traditional" financial analysis is not limited to job creation. There is nothing unusual or difficult about calculating financial impact to a community based on estimates of the number of outside visitors an event will draw, etc. YOu have x amount of events, each drawing x amount of people and staying for x amount of days. Each day they spend an estimated x amount of money in town.

Bob Forer 1 year, 9 months ago

(Continued from above)

'Mayor Bob Schumm and Dever — who have served as the lead negotiators for the city — also both expressed concern that if the city didn’t support the Rock Chalk Park project, KU may consider building the proposed sports facilities outside of Lawrence.'

Gotta give the boys credit for coming up with new BS. Haven't heard this excuse before. But what utter nonsense. Yeah, if we don't give KU what they want, they're gonna leave and take their ball with them and play out of town. Similar to 99 percent of institutes of higher learning, KU has a contiguous CAMPUS, with a few exceptions. However, even with those exceptions, the facilities are located in town. The KU administration is run by well educated, rational professionals, and not a bunch of vindictive nine year old kids. If Chancellor Gray-Little had any intellectual honesty, she would call Schumm and Dever out on this absurd poppycock.

So where would KU build? Eudora? Tongie? Topeka? Kansas City? Such suggestions are on par with positing that monkeys may fly out of my butt tomorrow at high noon.

The rationalizations given are exceedingly sophomoric--and folks, I am referring to the high school, and not the college variety. They remind me of a not unusual excuse given by two-bit third world dictators when a political prisoner dies--"they accidentally fell down six flights of steps."

Each and every commissioner that voted for the project based on the articulated reasons are nothing more than unmitigated, unreconstituted dirty rotten scoundrels.

I don't know what perturbs me more. Their arrogance? Or the fact that the sheep of Lawrence will sit on their hands and let them get away with it.

Bob Forer 1 year, 9 months ago

Okay, you sheep of Lawrence, listen, and then repeat twenty times:

'I'm as mad as hell, and I'm not going to take this anymore!

Richard Heckler 1 year, 9 months ago

The plan leaves North Lawrence and Southeast Lawrence without a rec center. Both have had a major influx of population and still growing.

WE taxpayers know this field house scenario will cost we taxpayers more than $31 million after all infrastructure is installed etc etc etc. Traffic Lights/water lines etc etc do get expensive.

Considering the total cost will be more than 31 million no matter how the picture is painted why not build a neighborhood rec center in NW Lawrence with 3 gyms, North Lawrence with two gyms, and Southeast Lawrence with 2 gyms ? This is surely going to come up. Spend an estimated $11 million on each each facility.

Schedule local athletic events accordingly.

Jumping in a car to drive across town is simply not practical thinking. 29 cents a gallon gasoline went bye bye some time ago. A ton of people in Lawrence do not bring home $60,000 or more in wages such that many of the most vocal promoters do and some are on our tax dollar payroll.

In fact it still seems to me this1994 sales tax money was to provide"neighborhood" centers and such not field houses.

Bob Forer 1 year, 9 months ago

Simple answer, Merrill. No. The city fathers don't give a damn about the poor folk in North Lawrence or the poor and middle class in SE Lawrence. They don't count.

gatekeeper 1 year, 9 months ago

Just FYI - we aren't poor in N. Lawrence. Majority of workers are white color. I get so sick of that stereotype that N. Lawrence is the poor side of town. We're just the side that doesn't want to look like the suburbs and likes being close to downtown. Any more, were just our own little city that's ignored by the rest of Lawrence. Unfortunately, we end up having to pay for everything the rest of the city wants though.

Paul Wilson 1 year, 9 months ago

That would require common sense though. This issue is the only one...EVER...that I totally agree with you. (scary for both of us I guess) As a youth coach of various sports including basketball, you are completely right. This is fiscally irresponsible and practically speaking.....simply...dumb.

average 1 year, 9 months ago

Sadly, by the definition of RCP as a 'city amenity', the people of Southeast Lawrence already have rec facilities and even a very nice swimming pool.

In the city of Eudora.

Anywhere south or east of KU? Eudora is pretty simply the faster drive. Free parking, too, fewer events closing the facilities down, and the swimming is cheaper to boot.

Steve Jacob 1 year, 9 months ago

Next up after Lawrence approves the school bond is a $40 million police center and a $80 million water plant.

Richard Heckler 1 year, 9 months ago

Think pork barrel for the vocal and pushy housing industry all of which makes their projects worth a little more money..... and they know this.

Richard Heckler 1 year, 9 months ago

If the city is truly concerned about the health of citizens the city could offer up a voucher for each live in property owner of interest for say $1500 to be used toward the purchase of exercise equipment.

This would cost taxpayers wayyyyyyy less money. Plus there would not be the ongoing expense of a rec center year after year after year.

A wild estimate would be $15,000,000 over time and would likely attract new people to Lawrence. This plan would absolutely demonstrate a genuine interest in the health of Lawrence citizens.

"Lawrence,Kansas the community of healthy homes courtesy of citizen tax dollars"

Of course not everybody in town will apply just as not everybody will use the high dollar rec center.

Paul Wilson 1 year, 9 months ago

...Speaking of pork: Let's see...blue county in a red state. Lawrence prides itself on being liberal and/or moderate. Looks like everyone agrees this is wasteful spending. This is what you get though. You elected them. They are libs and 'moderates'. Stick with them to make you feel good in social matters...but when it comes to finances...fiscal conservatives are the only logical choices. Not Republicans in conservative clothing either.

Thanks 'blue' Lawrence. Nice work.

Bob Forer 1 year, 9 months ago

If you are going to parrot faux news talking points, get them right. The tired and often repeated line from the conservatives is that liberals take from the producers and give to the moochers. This ain't the case here. The rec center takes from everyone, as we all pay sales tax, regardless of income, and gives a handout to the rich developers. Its called welfare for the rich. Something the republicans have lots of experience with.

Paul Wilson 1 year, 9 months ago

But yet the Liberals are in charge here and pandering to the rich. Definitely not conservatives. Republicans aren't conservative. They are just as irresponsible as liberals and democrats.

storm 1 year, 9 months ago

A little clarity is necessary - A person who is Democratic believes laws are applied liberally. A person who is Republican believes laws are applied according to the unit of government. The laws and ideas of themselves can be moderate, liberal or conservative. The fine Citizens of Lawrence, Ks are being victimized by a bait-and-switch scheme whereby a recreation center has now catapulted into a meglo sports complex of horric and heinous proportions. The bait-and-switch idea is not Republican nor Democrat nor conservative nor liberal.

average 1 year, 9 months ago

Are you paying attention in the slightest? Who are the people fighting this thing? merrill on this board? Soden in the City Commission race? These are the liberals.

Schumm, Carter, Dever, and, yes, even Cromwell are not the liberals. They are suits.

We've had exactly one 'hippy-dippy' progressive-liberal commission in the last 50 years in Lawrence. That was when Boog and Rundle held sway. And guess what? They didn't go in for bullsheet like this. They presided over some of the better growth and sane/constrained city spending years our city has ever seen.

Paul Wilson 1 year, 9 months ago

So liberals don't wear suits? Sandals right? I digress.

Thanks for making my point. Lawrence is by far Liberal. Making DC a blue county in a sea of red. Who was it that elected the city commission? You guessed it...Lawrence Voters.

gatekeeper 1 year, 9 months ago

the city commissioners aren't liberal. Just buddies with the developers and lining their friends pockets with our money.

Paul Wilson 1 year, 9 months ago

Do you actually think Lawrence would elect a conservative city council? Can't have it both ways.

Bob Forer 1 year, 9 months ago

Pork, you need to re-read both storm's and averages's comments. They are both spot on.

John Yocum 1 year, 9 months ago

Meanwhile, one corner of 27th and Iowa remains empty and the old Plum Tree building is being covered with graffiti and plywood. Olive Garden couldn't get some tax breaks from our city to build there. Oh, wait. I forgot. I live on the wrong side of town!

chootspa 1 year, 9 months ago

If Olive Garden couldn't make a profit by building there without subsidies, they don't belong there. And since they're one of the companies that proudly announced they'd be cutting back the hours of their already underpaid staff in order to avoid paying them health benefits, I can't say I'm terribly sad that they're not building there. Go enjoy one of the several fantastic Italian places on Mass street. Better food. Local businesses.

scaramouchepart2 1 year, 9 months ago

recheck. Olive Garden got all they asked for including a street through Mike Amyx's mothers yard. That is not the reason they have not built. I would like to know the hold up tho.

leftylucky 1 year, 9 months ago

This project would have smelled better if the journal world had not been so contensious. Yes Hugh Carter likes to attack anyone that has opposite opinions about projects. Way to go Hugh. Glad your leaving the city commission.

lunatic 1 year, 9 months ago

Hugh Carter likes to attack anyone that has opposite opinions : yep, a lot of that goes on here too.

Matthew Herbert 1 year, 9 months ago

8.6% voter turnout. As a commissioner I wouldn't care what any of you think either.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 1 year, 9 months ago

This has now turned into a personal crusade for Schumm and Dever, who when confronted with hard cold facts, come up with gems of idiocy like this--

"Mayor Bob Schumm and Dever — who have served as the lead negotiators for the city — also both expressed concern that if the city didn’t support the Rock Chalk Park project, KU may consider building the proposed sports facilities outside of Lawrence."

The narcissism of this commission is sickening.

Paul Wilson 1 year, 9 months ago

That's what you get when you have a town clearly dominated by liberal voters 'appoint' a city commission. Nice job!!

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 1 year, 9 months ago

That was a really stupid comment. Approval of this project has nothing to do with "liberal."

It's all about the corruption of crony capitalism, which is likely why you approve of it.

Paul Wilson 1 year, 9 months ago

If you read my replies...especially to Merrill...I don't approve. But you surely agree Lawrence is liberal. Lawrence voters elected this commission. Who are you blaming again? The commission? Or the idiots that put them there?

Catalano 1 year, 9 months ago

Everyone should remember who's supporting Riordan in this election.

sourpuss 1 year, 9 months ago

Fourth-generation Kansan here. I grew up in Lawrence and left when I was 27, not to return. My family still lives there and I enjoy visiting, but there are other places in the world. Happy hunting :)

LadyJ 1 year, 9 months ago

For that much money, where's the ice rink?

chootspa 1 year, 9 months ago

I could have been convinced to support it with an ice rink. At least that would have been something new.

leftylucky 1 year, 9 months ago

Does kansas athletics still give free tickets to the city commissioners ?

scaramouchepart2 1 year, 9 months ago

It has been rumored that Dougie has given city commissioners tickets, but after 9th and New Hampshire took longer then he wanted. I expect, if rumors are true, not this year.

Anthony Mall 1 year, 9 months ago

50 million to rehab memorial stadium in 5,4,3,2......

scaramouchepart2 1 year, 9 months ago

We should talking up all the large out going cost from library, to Farmland, police, developer incentives (which cost us now and they may not pay back, like Salina!, added bus routes, waste water plant, broken infrastructure monthly, And others. I support some of these and may even see a reason for many, BUT we cannot afford them all now. We should have not given developers millions in incentives we may or may not recoup down the road, if we want the city to do their job and take care of the residents I.e. taxpayers needs, we must remind them each project comes out of one basic source, taxes. I would love to have every big project voted on, but our city commission believe they were put in office to tell us what is a good project to spend tax dollars on. We are allowing the city commission to compartamentalize the projects and not force the, to consider them all in a plan of what we can and cannot afford.

average 1 year, 9 months ago

You can't blame our Fritzel for this scam in the least. Fritzel's gonna Fritzel! He just put the bait in the water, and if the fish are dumb enough to bite (and STILL KEEP paying your kids for a 49-year-old dilapidated rec center in 2063), ya land the damn fish.

skinny 1 year, 9 months ago

Merrill, Your answer is simple. The north and SE parts of towns tax base will not support such a facility. SO that is why it is being built on the west side! Duh!

jafs 1 year, 9 months ago

Oh good.

You mean that my tax dollars won't go to build/operate this facility? Great!

Oh wait, that's not at all true.

Don Whiteley 1 year, 9 months ago

This city shuts down schools, build parking garages and drive-up windows for their library, and builds a sports complex that no one on this planet needs. I can't wait to leave here.

Sue McDaniel 1 year, 9 months ago

I have never figured out exactly what this is offering the average citizen of our town in terms of encouragement or benefit to my exercise program............it appears to be all about KU and all the future sports stars this town is so full of....not.....just the law of averages.....

msezdsit 1 year, 9 months ago

"I have never figured out exactly what this is offering the average citizen of our town"

The answer please: It gives them a place to donate their tax dollars without their consent

50YearResident 1 year, 9 months ago

Time to change the City form of Government. We need permanent, educated leaders, not 2 year, in and out single agenda glory seekers. Let's sign this deal quickly because my term ends in 2 months and I need something to be remembered by.

scaramouchepart2 1 year, 9 months ago

Would you really want to be remembered for this? I'd think this would hurt you chances if you decided to run again in a few years, like Amyx, Schumm, and Chestnut.

irvan moore 1 year, 9 months ago

good grief, wait a couple or few years and we will find out how bad they really screwed us, hopefully we can elect a new commission that will take another look and realize we are better off paying a few million in penalties than going forward with the project

Catalano 1 year, 9 months ago

Joel. Wrong Fritzel. If we had that darn Venn diagram you would have known that.

msezdsit 1 year, 9 months ago

Aah. The feeling you get when going from a scam to scammed. Thank you city commissioners. You all should have to wear a red sweater with a rather large "S" on the front and back for as long as the tax payers are paying for your scam.

Anydaynow 1 year, 9 months ago

With so many people out of work - who is going to pay for all this STUFF that is not needed. Lining some pockets?

hungryhustler 1 year, 9 months ago

I can't wait to see this park! Something like this in Lawrence is long overdue. Does anyone know where I can make private donations to help speed up the construction?

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 1 year, 9 months ago

"Does anyone know where I can make private donations to help speed up the construction?"

You'll be donating to this project with every purchase you make in Lawrence for at least the next 20 years.

50YearResident 1 year, 9 months ago

From a person that pays no property taxes in Lawrence and a tormenter to those that do!.

chootspa 1 year, 9 months ago

As the conservatives and liberals are fond of pointing out, you can voluntarily overpay your taxes any time you choose.

crafty 1 year, 9 months ago

Mike -- thanks for standing up for common sense and the citizens of Lawrence!!

When is Scum up for re-election? Based upon his handling of this, he's definitely lost my vote.

Matthew Herbert 1 year, 9 months ago

yeah, too bad no Lawrencians could bother to get out of bed to cast a message-sending vote for him in the primary election. He may have 'won' the election, but with less than 3,000 votes, this city failed to send a message to the commission about our support of his 'no' vote. If you griped about the Rock Chalk park and DIDN'T vote for Amyx in the primary, this is your fault.

scaramouchepart2 1 year, 9 months ago

Perhaps this is the fault of the voters. These guys know who voted for them and are only obliged to support their constituents who voted. If the city got out and voted in droves and the city commissioners owed more people.... Think about it. And VOTE. You still have a chance to have a say in the other big ticket items the city is thinking about the taxpayers paying for.

LadyJ 1 year, 9 months ago

" the university, our largest employer" who pays it's maintenance staff and regular staff barely enough to live on.

Eileen Jones 1 year, 9 months ago

Salaries at KU have been frozen for years and we have been told there will be no money for increases in the foreseeable future, in fact layoffs are likely. Any professional job here pays less than private industry pays in the first place.

Hatter8333 1 year, 9 months ago

So many negative comments I truly am in amazement. I am old enough to remember when they built Allen Field House and many similar comments were made. Why so much money? Why such a large facility? Why in the world do we need a building that would hold so many people? What would those people say today? Look at the long term people? This will be an asset this community will enjoy and profit from for years to come. The glass is not always half empty!!!

scaramouchepart2 1 year, 9 months ago

I expect many if not most on these blogs vote if you are unhappy with the way our city commissions does business get out and help the League of Women Voters in getting people to the pools. Talk to your neighbors, support candidates. I have my preference, but I think just asking people to vote their preference is the best thing you can do for Lawrence in the next few weeks. help Mr Shew get the people informed. Many of you comments are valid and many are policies, state as well as local you don't seem to understand. It is important to understand what a city commission can and can't do. If the abatement was voted down, we still would not see tax dollars on state property. The 25 million dollars for the local rec center is the same number given when the project was across the highway or even if we just had the local rec. center. There are good questions we still need to have answered, but the infrastructure has always been the responsibility of the city. The street you live on, or if you work in town, the street you work on. If you want the public to decide which projects we want to spend our tax dollars, get people to the pools. We cannot afford them all.

runbaby 1 year, 9 months ago

I feel most citizens would not oppose this new endeavor if it was put to a fair vote and all could have a voice. It's the fact that we keep getting decisions made FOR us and they seem to be beneficial to a select few. If Lawrence has this kind of money why aren't we using it to better the education of our children? Our teachers work long hours for very little pay. They are abused by children and parents and still have a desire to "make a difference". Send some of that money their way instead of sending it to the hands of those already wealthy.

Thinking_Out_Loud 1 year, 9 months ago

Exactly! Just as people no longer oppose the T, because it was supported in a vote. Just as people no longer oppose the library expansion, because it was supported in a vote. Just as...

runbaby, we all DO have a voice. We all had an opportunity to vote for City Commissioners. We all have the opportunity to lobby our commissioners. It is true that the commission makes decisions FOR us, but that is what we elect them to do. In fact, I believe whenever they pass off decisions such as the T or the library to us, they are shirking the very responsibilities we elected them for. If we dislike the decisions they make FOR us, the better answer than forcing them to let us make more decisions ourselves is to elect people who will make decisions closer to our interests.

crafty 1 year, 9 months ago

It's not a City-KU partnership, it's a City-KU-Fritzel partnership. I think it's that third piece (Frizel) that most people object to. There seems to be a lack of trust and transparency when Tom is involved.

Thinking_Out_Loud 1 year, 9 months ago

Then file a motion with a court to have the decision overturned. To be honest, I'm not certain anything illegal has occurred here, though.

optimist 1 year, 9 months ago

"City commissioners, however, said it was difficult to create a traditional financial analysis for the project because it is not driven by the number of jobs it will directly create but rather by the number of visitors it may bring to the community and other indirect benefits."

That's all fine and well but if we don't apply a specific method to measuring the value of this project to the city against the cost of the abatements then what is the criteria? Whether or not you agree with it, the city's abatement policy requires a wage floor for those that are employed by an entity receiving an abatement. I expect a lot of young people will be employed there, will they all earn at or above that wage floor? I've not heard anything about this and that's probably because most of us have heard very little about the real details of this project.

I'll say this for reference: I am neither strongly opposed nor strongly in favor of this project. I like the idea of it and expect that it will bring people to Lawrence and that Lawrence should see economic benefit from it. I am however strongly opposed to the way this project was handled by the city, the commission, KU and Bliss. Too little information has been made available to the community and policies and procedures appear as though they have been circumvented. While it is in the commission's authority to deviate from said practices it certainly exposes the city when applying any criteria to a future project and deny it, or abatements for it. Remember Walmart?

There are a number of questions as to the actual cost. While the city's exposure is limited to $25 million for the construction there is no limit to the regular costs of maintenance and upkeep on the facilities and grounds surrounding it. It is my understanding that you and I, the taxpayers that live in Lawrence now and for the next 100 years will be paying for it.

If I am correct in my understanding the commission has just committed future generations that live here, long after any of us alive today are gone, to pay for something that will probably be a run down dump a few generations from now. How is that right? Would anyone reading this agree to accept all responsibilities for a home a builder just completed for you? What confidence would you have that a builder would build the best possible structure if the builder held no liability for it whatsoever? None of us would sign that contract but from what little I've read and heard that is apparently what the city has just done.

I applaud those that stood up against rubber stamping this project with so many questions unanswered. Thanks to commissioner Amyx and advisory board member Rob Chestnut for asking the hard questions and taking the time to look at the numbers in order to see that they just don’t add up.

Eileen Jones 1 year, 9 months ago

The CC does not represent the people of this city. I will be voting against and campaigning against all incumbents.

Matthew Herbert 1 year, 9 months ago

....what about Mike Amyx, who has consistently opposed the RC park?

scaramouchepart2 1 year, 9 months ago

Stain, That's Mike Amyx who voted against the KU/Biss sports center.

lunatic 1 year, 9 months ago

Wrong cowboy. He was for it before he was aga'n it

jayhawklawrence 1 year, 9 months ago

The Lawrence city government does not appear to be able to manage their resources very efficiently and at the rate they are going, cost of living here is going to increase much faster than per capita income.

I do not see how this is going to be sustainable even though you hear people touting the term "sustainability" as if they know what it means. It is not just an environmental term. It is also an economic term.

If the city leaders believe their job is to propose projects and spend money then I think we have a big problem.

Nikonman 1 year, 9 months ago

I can't think of a single year since 1977 and the present when there was not a new building under construction or at least a large renovation underway at KU. So when will will the KU campus finally be "Finished?" Probably never. The next project will be to take over part or all of Clinton Lake. That should be easy; Just transfer control from Wildlife and Parks to KU. As far as the new Recreation Center is concerned, it will be interesting to see who and what businesses locate near there.

Thinking_Out_Loud 1 year, 9 months ago

Red herring. Of course there is constant construction--KU is constantly growing and responding to new developments and needs in education. If KU ever does "finish" and stops changing to adapt to the current world, it will BE finished on that day.

patkindle 1 year, 9 months ago

The majority of the folks that voted in the last presidential election indicated they thought the govt was smarter than them and understood their needs better than they did. The city commissioners are of the same understanding, if you don’t like it Just watch out for the drones, they are headed towards anyone that is agin them

victor_lustig 1 year, 9 months ago

Folks, last night Schumm, Dever, Carter, and Cromwell directed millions of your taxpayers dollars to a private company owned by Thomas Fritzel. It wasn’t about KU at all. All the agreements between KU Endowment, KU Athletics and Fritzel where already executed months ago, READ THE AGREEMENTS. Last night was about obligating taxpayers for fees to Fritzel and his architects, no bid infrastructure cost, waving development fees and other costs all on land he controls for fifty years to subsidize building his private leasehold improvements.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 1 year, 9 months ago

"If KU won't benefit at all, how do you explain the Commissions statement that tKU may be damaged if the project does not move forward?"

Desperation to rationalize an extremely flawed project and process.

" but I suspect KU benefits from sale of the land and getting favorable treatment when it rents the completed facilities back and on concessions. "

KU doesn't get any of the concessions-- Fritzel gets them all.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 1 year, 9 months ago

KU (or, more accurately, KUAC, which is hardly the same thing as KU) will definitely benefit-- thru the largesse of Lawrence taxpayers who will be heavily subsidizing this project, and also subsidizing the faux philanthropy of Fritel/Bliss.

Richard Heckler 1 year, 9 months ago

"They also approved an ordinance that will give the larger Rock Chalk Park project, which includes privately owned athletic facilities to be used by Kansas University, a 100 percent property tax abatement for the next 10 years."

THINK! Gov Brownback and the dumb republicans are also removing tons of tax dollars from the state cookie jar which means Lawrence will be receiving less tax dollars from the state.

With both the city and state removing tax dollars from cookie jars how does the city plan to make up for the deficit?

Richard Heckler 1 year, 9 months ago

Is this among many recent projects that appear to be pork barrel for the real estate industry?

Lawrence might be touching on local facism???

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