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Archive for Wednesday, November 19, 1997

VACANT HOME GETS 60-DAY REPRIEVE

November 19, 1997

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A vacant and boarded-up home in East Lawrence may be unsafe and dangerous, but its prospective owners should have another 60 days to try and fix it, Lawrence city commissioners decided Tuesday.

James B. Marshall Jr. and Percy Kaiser received the commission's blessing for their renovation plans at 832 Conn., a vacant property city inspectors have kept their eyes on for months.

Marshall, co-owner of James Gang Auto Sales, 300 Locust, said he and Kaiser planned to secure the house, board up windows and paint portions of the house's exterior within 60 says, as they continue to clear ownership through Douglas County District Court.

They paid off the property's $3,085 in back taxes Monday.

Another man, Harold Shephard, apparently has a contract to own the house, but Marshall said he was working to get it declared invalid.

K.T. Walsh, a neighborhood leader who has worked to preserve the home, said she was happy to see someone invest in a worthwhile project.

"That's a very important corner," she said. "I hope we could work together to bring it back to life."

Marshall expects to spend up to $50,000 to renovate the property, if it indeed is salvageable. If not, he said, the property would be razed.

Aviation board lands

fewer meetings

The city's Aviation Advisory Board no longer will have to meet once a month.

Commissioners unanimously approved an ordinance that allows the board to meet at least four times a year. The city code currently requires the group to meet at least once a month.

The board recommended the change itself, on a 6-1 vote in July.

"We feel this is a more economical use of the board members' time," said Greg Smith, chair of the advisory board.

Smith said the board still could call special meetings if events warrant, such as dealing with complaints from operators.

Commissioner Bob Moody said the change sounded fine to him.

"We'll see how it works," Moody said.

Design work OK'd

for drainage projects

Let the drainage upgrades flow.

Commissioners unanimously agreed to hire consulting companies to draw up plans for three "big ticket" drainage-improvement projects, expected to be built sometime in the next three to five years:

  • Evans, Bierly, Hutchison would get $29,925 to draw up designs for two projects: 29th Court and Ridge Court.
  • BG Consultants would get $34,904 to draw up plans on Ninth Street, between Vermont and New Hampshire streets.

The projects will be installed once enough money becomes available, said Chad Voigt, the city's stormwater engineer.

The projects are needed to clear up flooding of the street, lots and even one house along 29th Court, and flooding of the street and one house on Ridge Court, as cited in the city's Stormwater Master Plan. The project on Ninth should clear up flooding in commercial structures and the street.

The work is being financed by revenues from charges assessed on the city's monthly utility bills. A typical homeowner pays $2 a month for drainage service.

Police to get

new jackets

Lawrence police will get new all-weather jackets.

Commissioners agreed to pay $24,013 for the "speiwak jackets," which are issued to police personnel for outdoor use.

J.B. Battle Uniform Co. got the contract, although proposals from two other companies would have cost the city less money. The lowers bids, however, either did not meet the department's specifications or the company lacked the proper license to sell the jackets to the department.

Property declared

`environmentally blighted'

An East Lawrence property littered with junk cars has 20 days to clean up its act, commissioners decided.

Commissioners declared 724 Conn. "environmentally blighted" and gave its owners 20 days to clean up the mess.

Julie Wyatt, the city's environmental inspector, gave commissioners a written report outlining recent problems with the property. Among them:

  • Two vehicles -- a blue Cadillac without a license tag, and a red Malibu without a tag, plus flat tires -- were located on the property in January. Wyatt issued a violation of the city code.
  • In February, a tenant at the property said the Malibu would be moved and that the Cadillac was a "derby" car. The Cadillac remained five days later.
  • Wyatt called the tenant again in September, requesting compliance.
  • In October, Wyatt received another complaint about the property's lot, then inspected the site and found a Cadillac without a tag plus a black Mustang, also without a tag.

Earlier this month, Wyatt found that the blue Cadillac remained, plus a brown four-door that lacked a tag.

`Listening breakfast'

serves up comments

Buying nine Lawrence residents breakfast last week paid off with worthwhile comments about what's on people's minds, Mayor Bonnie Augustine said.

Thursday's city-financed meal, the first "Mayor's Listening Breakfast," brought together randomly selected residents to chat about current issues with Augustine at Shalor's Restaurant in downtown's Eldridge Hotel.

Augustine distributed written results from the breakfast during Tuesday night's commission meeting.

"I thought it was very beneficial," Augustine said.

Topics addressed during the breakfast included expansion of the Lawrence Arts Center, growth and recreation options.

"An indoor track is a great idea," one resident said.

Augustine plans to conduct another breakfast in January or February.

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