Landowners near Free State High School are threatening a lawsuit if city officials don't repeal access limits onto Sixth Street.
Construction of Free State High School could be delayed if Lawrence city commissioners don't agree to lift access restrictions for surrounding land, a landowners' representative said Friday.
Maryan Tebbutt and JoAnne Taylor, who own 100 acres bordering the new high school, want to meet with commissioners and gain more flexibility in their development plans, said Christine Lentz, director of property management for The Provo Group Inc., of Kansas City, Mo.
Otherwise, she said, a lawsuit could be filed.
Earlier this month, commissioners approved a plat limiting access off Sixth to three points: at Wakarusa Drive, Champion Lane and Folks Road.
That needs to change, Lentz said. The landowners -- known as the Bauer sisters -- own land along a 1/2-mile stretch of Sixth, and direct access may be required to make a commercial development work.
"At this point there is no compromise," Lentz said. "We want access onto Sixth Street."
To that end, the Bauer sisters have refused to sign the plat, which includes the 60-acre high school site.
Without a plat, school officials cannot form a benefit district for road construction, which could leave them stuck with the entire cost.
Supt. Al Azinger, however, isn't worried. Even without a plat, the school district can build a school and open it for the fall semester in 1997.
"If worst comes to worst, we could have kids coming to school on the gravel roads we have right now for construction," Azinger said. The prospect is undesirable, he said, but possible.
The Bauer sisters consider the access restrictions unprecedented and unfair, Lentz said. Property across the street, for example, was approved for three access points.
"They're not trying to be unreasonable," Lentz said. "They just want to be treated fairly."
Reaction from city officials was mixed.
City Manager Mike Wildgen said the issue involved the Bauer sisters and the school district -- not the city -- because an approved plat's already on the table.
"It's not in our hands," Wildgen said.
Mayor Bob Moody, however, said he would be willing to reconsider the commission's decision to restrict access, and not just because he voted against them in the first place.
The city could restrict access later in the approval process, he said, such as when development plans are more concrete.
"I don't take well to threats," Moody said.
Work already has begun on the new $25.8 million high school, to be located north and east of the intersection of Wakarusa and Sixth.