Archive for Wednesday, August 19, 1998


August 19, 1998


With architects hired to design a new $9.5 million indoor aquatic center, officials will turn their attention to hiring a construction manager for the project.

Nearly two years after pulling the plug on one indoor pool, Lawrence city commissioners agreed to pour nearly $600,000 into plans for a new one.

Tuesday night, commissioners agreed to hire Michael Treanor Architects, for $579,872, to handle architectural and engineering services for a $9.5 million indoor aquatic center, to be located just northwest of Free State High School.

Mayor Marty Kennedy recently guaranteed that the project would cost less than $9.5 million, and commissioners agreed to hire a construction manager to help keep the project's costs in the shallow end of the water.

``With that guarantee, we're going to need some help,'' Kennedy said Tuesday.

The decision to hire Michael Treanor Architects came nearly two years after commissioners abandoned the firm's completed plans for a $13.3 million community recreation center in Centennial Park -- plans that included many of the same features as the anticipated indoor aquatic center.

Michael Treanor Architects collected $675,600 for its work on the recreation center project -- which commissioners rejected largely because of the overall project's size, cost and location -- but none of the plans could be translated into savings on the aquatic center.

Mark Belford, project architect, said the aquatic center's pools would be larger, the building smaller and would include reconfigured heating, air conditioning and ventilation systems -- not to mention being on different sites and requiring different designs, from floor to roof.

``It's not the same project,'' said Belford, who also led the design team for the Centennial Park center.

Even so, Commissioner Bob Moody expressed frustration with the situation. While he didn't enjoy rejecting the firm's plans for the recreation center in December 1996, he certainly didn't want to accept that all its work was wasted.

``I'm not an architect, but there should have been some savings reflected,'' Moody said. ``My responsibility is to get the most bang out of the city's dollars, and there should have been some savings.''

The entire project will be financed using revenues collected from a 1-cent countywide sales tax approved by voters in 1994. Commissioners consider the indoor aquatic center to be the city's top priority for new recreation areas.

As decided last month, the new indoor aquatic center should include:

  • a 50-meter competitive pool, with a bleacher area containing 500 seats and an adjustable bulkhead that could separate the pools into areas for multiple activities.
  • a ``family'' pool, with such features as whirlpools, slides, current channels, fountains and zero-depth entry areas.
  • locker rooms.
  • a concessions area.
  • a multipurpose ``birthday room'' that could be rented out for parties.

Under a separate, $23,600 contract, Michael Treanor Architects determined that such a center could expect to lose as much as $300,000 a year in operational costs. Commissioners have said that such a subsidy could be reduced by charging higher fees for the center's use.

-- Mark Fagan's phone message number is 832-7188. His e-mail address is

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