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Archive for Wednesday, May 24, 1995

PARKWAY, REC CENTER STIR DEBATE AT CITY HALL

May 24, 1995

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Commissioner Allen Levine took exception to city plans for the Eastern Parkway and Centennial Park Community Recreation Center.

City officials will forge ahead with plans for the Eastern Parkway and a community recreation center despite objections from a city commissioner.

The projects will remain in the city's Capital Improvements Plan despite Commissioner Allen Levine's contentions that the parkway and recreation center would harm nearby neighborhoods, the commission decided Tuesday night.

Besides, commissioners said, including a project in the $200 million plan doesn't mean it's going to get done. That decision comes when yearly budgets are approved.

"We're not saying, necessarily, that we want to do everything in this document," Commissioner Bonnie Augustine said.

The plan does, however, outline a map of projects and priorities deemed feasible by staffers, planning commissioners and, ultimately, city commissioners. The plan also helps set groundwork for federal grant applications.

Myles Schachter, a private urban planner, urged commissioners to include plans for building new parking lots in downtown Lawrence. He suggested tacking $3 million to $4 million onto the list of long-term projects for the years 2000 and 2001.

Commissioners agreed in concept and will await specific documents before amending the plan later.

And Schachter, representing Downtown Lawrence Inc., said he still supported the Eastern Parkway.

"Something's going to need to be done," he said.

The parkway, as designed, would cost $14.9 million and connect Kansas Highway 10 and downtown Lawrence with a two-lane road bordering the East Lawrence neighborhood.

Levine said the project should be spiked because it would put too much traffic into east Lawrence neighborhoods and likely cost more money than estimated. The South Lawrence Trafficway, for example, already is millions of dollars over budget.

"I shudder to think what could happen to the Eastern Parkway," Levine said.

The four other commissioners said they supported the parkway project, and Mayor Bob Moody said he favored building a second bridge over the Kansas River as well.

Levine also took aim at the city's proposed Centennial Park Community Recreation Center -- a project he said would soak up too much green space and include mislocated indoor pools. The project is estimated to cost either $12.8 million or $15.1 million.

The proposed building might take up 6 percent of the park, but the entire project -- including parking and landscaping -- could cover 20 percent of what is now enjoyable green space, he said. The two indoor pools should be split up, with one going to the second high school and the other to a different city park, such as Holcom Park, he said.

"It's well-intentioned, but it's disingenuous," Levine said.

Commissioner Jo Andersen said the public supported putting the center in Centennial Park because of its central location at Sixth Street and Rockledge Road.

Besides, Mayor Bob Moody said, relocating the center wouldn't solve Levine's concerns.

"Anyplace we put it, we'd be taking away green space," Moody said.

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