City officials are in basic agreement with suggested design, routing and speed plans for the proposed eastern parkway, but they shy away from endorsing suggestions for land use along the roadway.
The officials' comments are included in a report scheduled to be received by the Lawrence City Commission at its Tuesday meeting.
The commission asked city staffers in October to recommend criteria for development of the parkway. The criteria were drawn up by members of the Eastern Parkway Task Force. The parkway would link downtown Lawrence with Kansas Highway 10 near the East Hills Business Park.
The task force in March narrowly approved the so-called "18 criteria" as part of the Eastern Parkway Analysis Plan. The criteria deal with details pertaining to routing and design of the parkway, speed limits on the parkway and land use surrounding the parkway.
Acting City Manager Mike Wildgen, along with George Williams, public works director, Price Banks, city planning director, and Terese Gardner, city engineer, prepared the city's report.
Williams today said the speed, routing and design criteria could be achieved.
"SOME OF the things," Williams said, "we're doing now."
For example, the city is proceeding with improvements on Seventh Street, which would carry traffic to and from the downtown as a part of the parkway. The improvements include narrowing the street, resurfacing it and marking it in an effort to provide better traffic flow. The improvements also include extensive landscaping along Seventh Street to serve as a buffer between the traffic and nearby residences.
The city officials also agree on design criteria, which include prohibiting parking on the parkway and encouraging landscaping and bicycle/pedestrian pathways along the route.
Williams said city officials found some contradictions in the routing criteria called for by the task force. For instance, Williams said, "There's a problem with trying to entice all of the traffic to use that route to go downtown, and at the same time eliminate through truck traffic. That's a little contradictory."
Williams, however, said the design, routing and speed criteria were "not undoable."
"We just have to put some thought into how we can best implement the suggestions," he said.
ON LAND USE questions, the city staff's comment is more neutral. Rather than endorsing the criteria supported by a majority of the task force, the staff suggests going through proper planning and zoning procedures.
The land-use criteria, for example, include a recommendation that floodplain areas of the parkway remain agricultural. The staff's reaction: "The comprehensive plan (Plan '95) favors open space or agricultural uses, and therefore, such uses will be emphasized. Nevertheless some floodplain areas are suitable for other uses and can be adapted."
Another of the criteria asks that a land-use zoning plan be developed and adopted for the parkway. The plan would include ways of removing industries on Seventh Street east of Rhode Island and to prevent more non-residential uses along the street.
The city's response is non-committal toward those ideas. The staff members said that basic studies for such a plan have begun, but "there is no mechanism for acquisition of existing industries except for urban renewal, or condemnation for public use. It is unlikely that the plan will recommend such action."