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Archive for Wednesday, January 21, 1998

LAWRENCE CITY COMMISSION BRIEFS FROM JAN. 20, 1998 MEETING

January 21, 1998

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Catholic campus

gets city's blessing

Plans to build a spiritual campus for Catholics in western Lawrence received the city's blessing Tuesday night.

Lawrence city commissioners unanimously approved a site plan for a new Corpus Christi Catholic Church, to be located on 25 acres along the south side of 15th Street, east of the yet-to-be-built George Williams Drive. The site is along the curve of the recently extended 15th, between Wakarusa Drive and the South Lawrence Trafficway.

Construction is expected to begin in late spring or early summer. The project's $11 million first phase -- to include a 1,000-seat church, plus a 350-seat social hall, a religious education center, administrative offices and a preschool -- is scheduled to be open by early 2000.

Later plans call for Catholic elementary and junior high schools, plus an outdoor track, an elderly care building and a rectory.

Later this month, Lawrence-Douglas County planning commissioners are scheduled to consider requests to operate a preschool and nursing home on the site.

Alcohol-tax revenues

to get new rules

City officials plan to exempt themselves from state law pertaining to the expenditure of alcohol-tax revenues, a move that would free up money for busting drunken drivers, prosecuting drug abusers and operating programs deemed inappropriate by state auditors.

Commissioners unanimously endorsed a proposed "charter ordinance" that would free the city from state-imposed spending guidelines related to alcohol taxes.

Two years ago, a state audit of the city's use of alcohol taxes exposed incorrect spending. The city had used the money to finance police operations, for example.

State law mandates that the money in question be used for programs whose "principal purpose" involves prevention of alcoholism and drug abuse, as well as related issues. State auditors determined that enforcement does not qualify.

Commissioner Erv Hodges suggested the charter ordinance.

"I questioned the very narrowness of the state statute," Hodges said. "We had no freedom at all."

Before taking effect, the ordinance still must be approved twice, published in the Journal-World's legal notices and then go at least 60 days without having a valid protest petition filed.

BRB lands

biosolids job

A Topeka contractor will earn $6.3 million to install and build a new system for handling sludge at the city's sewage treatment plant.

BRB Contractors Inc. submitted the low bid for the project, which is intended to keep up with sewage demands for a growing community, as well as maintain compliance with changing state and federal regulations.

The contract, approved unanimously by commissioners, means city officials can expect to save about $1 million on the job. Engineers had anticipated the work costing $7.3 million.

The 18-month job includes construction of new buildings and installation of equipment to be used for thickening, drying and storage of sludge. A biological filter for disinfecting air also is part of the project.

Sludge is the common name for biosolids, the solid materials that remain after sewage has been treated. In Lawrence. Biosolids are applied to area farm fields as fertilizer.

BRB also handled two previous jobs at the city's Wastewater Treatment Plant, 1400 E. Eighth. One of the jobs was completed late, and another included work that later needed to be repaired.

City officials are convinced, however, that with new management such problems will not resurface.

Inspectors hired

for drainage project

B.G. Engineering will earn $88,000 to keep its eyes on construction of new drainage pipes in a neighborhood south of Lawrence High School.

The company will handle construction observation services for the upcoming installation of new drainage pipes in the area of Carolina Street in the Centennial Park neighborhood. The area generally is between 21st and 23rd streets, south of Lawrence High School.

The city's Stormwater Master Plan calls the area the city's worst drainage problem.

Earlier this month, commissioners hired Emerson Construction Inc., of Topeka, to finish drainage improvements along Carolina Street for $1.24 million. The cost is $567,000 less than the $1.8 million city officials had anticipated.

Construction is expected to begin by month's end and be completed within six months.

As with other drainage-improvement projects in town, the entire Carolina project -- including its inspections services -- is being financed by revenues generated by special drainage fees assessed on city water bills. Typical residential customers pay $2 a month in drainage fees.

Bonds authorized

for renovations

Commissioners will get new wall coverings, carpet and furniture for their meeting room later this year, one of several renovation and maintenance projects endorsed Tuesday night.

Commissioners gave staffers authority to borrow $350,000 this year to finance a number of renovation and maintenance projects involving city properties. Among those on the list: Replacing the 18-year-old decor in the commission's first-floor meeting room.

"It's served its life," City Manager Mike Wildgen said. "It's time to do it."

Here's a rundown of other projects ready for work:

  • $85,000 for ongoing work at the Lawrence Public Library.
  • $30,000 to upgrade heating and air conditioning at Holcom Recreation Center.
  • $90,000 to renovate a fire-medical station.
  • $10,000 for a new wood floor at the Lawrence Senior Center.
  • $100,000 for work at city hall, including new wall coverings, carpet and furniture in the commission meeting room; upgraded bathrooms; roof renovations; and improvements to heating and air-conditioning systems.

Elevator costs up

for health facility

Installing new elevators at a new $14.1 million community health facility will cost more than expected but still won't break the bank for the overall project.

Commissioners agreed Tuesday to hire Thyssen Elevator, for $94,323, to provide and install elevators at the health building, which is being built across Maine Street from Lawrence Memorial Hospital.

Officials had expected the elevator job to cost $88,000, or $6,323 less than Thyssen's bid. The only other company to seek the job -- Otis Elevator -- offered to do the work for $115,183.

City Manager Mike Wildgen said Thyssen's bid might have come in higher than project estimates, but the overall project remains below budget. Other bid packages provided more than enough cost savings to offset overruns.

"It's doing well," Wildgen said.

The project is being financed jointly by Lawrence and Douglas County, using revenues from a 1-cent countywide sales tax approved by voters in 1994. Once completed, the health building will provide service areas and offices for Lawrence-Douglas County Health Dept., Bert Nash Community Mental Health Center and Douglas County Visiting Nurses Assn.

`Riordan Residence'

to become landmark

A Tennessee Street home being renovated by a local pediatrician will soon join a list of local landmarks, commissioners decided Tuesday.

In a unanimous vote, commissioners agreed to add 1613 Tenn. to the Lawrence Register of Historic Places as a landmark.

The property, known as the Ludington-Thacher Residence, already is included on the National Register of Historic Places.

The residence is named for Ruben W. Ludington, who once owned the Eldridge Hotel and was an original settler of Lawrence, and Judge Solon O. Thacher, who chaired the 1858 Wyandotte Convention, which compiled the Kansas Constitution. Thacher also served as a U.S. ambassador to Central and South America and Mexico.

Dennis Enslinger, the city's historic resources administrator, said the home likely would become known as the "Riordan Residence," after Dr. Terry Riordan, whose family had lived there for a number of years.

The house qualifies as a landmark because of its identification with persons who contributed to the community, county, state or nation; its distinguishing characteristics and architectural style; and its unique location and physical characteristics that make it an established or familiar visual feature.

Carol von Tersch, who lives nearby, summed it up for commissioners.

"I think it's really a gem," she said.

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