Archive for Thursday, April 22, 1999


April 22, 1999


Monday night, members of the Lawrence school board will consider "donating" 5 acres of property at Free State High School to the city for construction of an indoor aquatic center.

A 5-acre site north of Free State High School is appropriate for the city's proposed $9.5 million indoor aquatic center, Lawrence-Douglas County planning commissioners decided Wednesday.

Now all city officials need is the land.

Planning commissioners voted to support the city's application for a permit to build and operate an aquatic center attached to the north end of the high school, which is located at 4700 Overland. Planning commissioners also approved a final plat for the project.

The permit now awaits approval by Lawrence city commissioners, who are the ones who already have agreed to spend $9.5 million of public money generated by sales-tax revenues to open the center.

Tom Wilkerson, the city's assistant director of parks and recreation, attended Wednesday night's meeting and walked away pleased.

"We're really excited about the project," Wilkerson said after the vote. "I think it's a very wise use of taxpayers' money. " It just makes good sense."

Members of the Lawrence school board will get a chance to decide how much sense it makes Monday night, when they consider turning over ownership of the 5-acre site -- Wilkerson described it as "donating" -- to the city.

Board members already have agreed in principle to the deal, but there's still plenty of paperwork to be filled out. City commissioners still need to review final plans and hire contractors to take on construction of the project.

In any case, the project is targeted to start construction within a month and be open sometime between the late fall of 2000 and February of 2001, Wilkerson said. It will include a 50-meter "competitive" pool, plus a separate "family" pool complete with fountains and other features popular for recreation and relaxation.

Also planned: bleachers with seating for 750 people, a diving area, locker rooms, public meeting rooms and 173 parking spaces.

In other action Wednesday night, planning commissioners:

  • Recommended that the Douglas County Commission approve a permit to allow for the relocation of Clinton Parkway Nursery & Garden Store to the Strawberry Hill Christmas Tree Farm, which is located at 794 U.S. Highway 40 west of Lawrence.
  • Approved a final plat for Westgate Place, a development at the southeast corner of Sixth Street and Wakarusa Drive that will include a new Dillons store.
  • Approved a final development plan for Pine Ridge Plaza, a development at the southeast corner of 31st and Iowa streets that will include a new IHOP restaurant.

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

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