Archive for Wednesday, September 10, 1997

BMX TRACK PLAN NEEDS MORE OPTIONS

September 10, 1997

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Commissioners decided to look at other locations for a new bicycle motocross track before reaching the finish line.

Mountain Bike Lawrence, a local bicycling club, asked commissioners to approve plans for developing new BMX "features" in Lawrence Riverfront Park, on an area adjacent to an existing trail in the park, about 1.2 miles east of a boat ramp at Eighth and Oak streets.

The club, which already maintains the existing trails in the park, asked for permission to install and maintain obstacles in the park.

After hearing opposition from several neighbors, however, commissioners decided to back off -- for now. They asked staffers to meet with the club and consider alternate locations, such as Broken Arrow Park.

A report is expected to be forwarded to commissioners in a month.

Commissioner Erv Hodges also asked staffers to consider options for relocating the city's existing skateboard park, which is located in Burcham Park. Hodges said he had heard "numerous complaints" from neighbors about the skating area.

Mayor proclaims today

`Jesse Milan Day'

Today may be Jesse Milan's day, but Tuesday was his night at city hall.

Milan, who was the first black teacher in Lawrence public schools following the Supreme Court's decision prohibiting separate classrooms, received a standing ovation from nearly 100 people attending Tuesday's Lawrence City Commission meeting, after Mayor Bonnie Augustine declared today to be "Jesse Milan Day" in Lawrence.

A new Early Childhood Readiness Program classroom will be dedicated in Milan's name at 9 this morning at Pinckney School, 810 W. Sixth. The dedication ceremonies are open to the public.

"It hasn't sunk in yet," Milan told commissioners. "I'm pinching myself to make sure I'm still alive."

Financing for the room came from William Dann, a local landlord who donated $50,000 in Milan's name. The room will provide preschool instruction for 20 children, each 4 years old, during the coming year.

Milan worked for Lawrence public schools from 1954 to 1969. He also was instrumental in pushing for a successful public vote, in 1968, to build an outdoor, municipal swimming pool -- available to people of all races -- in what is now Buford M. Watson Jr. Park.

Expansions score

financial assistance

Commissioners approved financial deals to help two companies expand in Lawrence.

Commissioners approved ordinances, on first reading, to grant a $2.4 million tax abatement for the Garage Door Group, and issue $775,000 in tax-exempt industrial revenue bonds and $1.325 million in taxable industrial revenue bonds for Microtech Computers Inc.

Both approvals were expected. Commissioners authorized the tax abatement Nov. 1 and endorsed the revenue bonds in recent months.

34th Street signals

get official OK

Plans to install new traffic signals at 34th and Iowa streets are moving closer to reality.

Commissioners approved an ordinance, on first reading, to establish a benefit district to finance the project.

If the district goes through as expected, financing for the estimated $200,000 job would be split two ways: owners on the east side of the intersection -- Hollywood Theaters and 34th Street Investors -- would pick up 80 percent of the tab. Owners on the other side -- Crown Motors and Payless Cashways -- each would pay 10 percent.

Detailed plans for the work are still on the drawing board, and construction is expected to begin later this year and continue into spring.

Nov. 11 hearing

set for 832 Conn.

Nobody lives at 832 Conn., and commissioners will get a chance to declare the vacant rental home "abandoned" after a public hearing Nov. 11.

The Lawrence Preservation Alliance requested the hearing as part of its plans to take possession of the property, which it wants to renovate for sale to a qualifying low-income buyer.

If the structure is declared abandoned, the LPA could go to court to seek possession of the house. Part of the deal would require the LPA to pay off back taxes on the property.

City building inspectors have deemed the property unsafe, dangerous and uninhabitable. Harold Shephard, a Baldwin contractor who owns a number of rental properties in Lawrence, has said that he has an option to buy and renovate the home -- if only he can get it through probate court.

The property is owned by an estate.

North Lawrence plat

awaits meeting

Plans to set aside space for two new North Lawrence houses will have to wait another two weeks for a decision from commissioners.

Commissioners decided to wait until Sept. 23 to take up a request to approve a final plat for Lewis Subdivision, a three-lot residential area at Eighth and Elm streets.

Commissioners rejected the plat a year ago -- saying they were concerned about inadequate sewer and drainage systems in the area -- but an attorney for the property owner said much had changed in the past 12 months.

Sewers have been expanded. Pump stations are planned. Drainage has been enhanced.

"There have been improvements in that area," said Price Banks, attorney for owner Betty Ridgway.

Ridgway has "serious health problems," Banks said. "She really needs the income from this transaction."

Commissioners agreed to reconsider the plat after giving Banks a chance to meet with neighbors, including the membership of the North Lawrence Improvement Assn. (NLIA).

"We'd just like to be assured that this does not increase the problems in this area," said Ted Boyle, NLIA president.

Plat approved

for Kmart project

Commissioners approved a final plat for Pine Ridge Plaza Addition, clearing a path for redevelopment of Kmart along South Iowa Street.

Pine Ridge Plaza is expected to cover 32 acres, comprising four lots, along the east side of Iowa, between 31st and 33rd streets.

The first phase of the project calls for redeveloping, renovating and expanding the existing Kmart, 3106 Iowa. Plans also call for redevelopment of other areas of the site.

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