New furniture is on the way to a new health building less than six months away from opening.
Tuesday night, Lawrence city commissioners agreed to buy furnishings for the new Community Health Facility, a $14.1 million project under construction across Maine Street from Lawrence Memorial Hospital.
The building is scheduled for completion by late spring -- "and late spring means June," City Manager Mike Wildgen said -- and will provide offices and service areas for the Lawrence-Douglas County Health Department, Bert Nash Community Mental Health Center and Douglas County Visiting Nurses Assn.
A rundown of the $162,710 in furniture contracts:
- Design Business Interiors would get $32,236 for audio-visual furnishings and accessories, including screens, podiums, clocks, interior trash cans and exterior trash cans with ash receptacles.
- Strong's Furniture Express will get $46,923 for children's furniture and stackable chairs.
- Corporate Express Inc. will get $59,362 for seating in the lobby, waiting room and two sofas. The city originally had chosen BA Designs' $60,716 offer, but sided for the lower cost.
- Rainen Business Interiors will get $1,631 for a bench.
- Contract Design Group will get $22,558 for 59 tables and a dolly.
Commissioners also agreed to hire Netcom Inc., for $108,615, to install telecommunications cables in the building.
The building is being financed jointly by Lawrence and Douglas County using revenues generated by a 1-cent countywide sales tax approved by voters in 1994.
Airport property set
for industrial zoning
Portions of Lawrence Memorial Airport no longer will be considered a residential area.
Commissioners agreed to rezone airport property south of the terminal for industrial uses, as recommended by the Lawrence-Douglas County Planning Commission. The airport is attracting a growing number of industrial customers, including a manufacturer of ultralight aircraft that plans to occupy a renovated city hangar at the airport.
City commissioners originally sought to rezone the airport's entire 449-acre site north of town from residential to industrial uses. But planning commissioners worried that the full-scale change could cause problems in the future, were the city ever to sell the property to a private enterprise.
City commissioners still must approve the ordinance twice more and have it published in the newspaper before it becomes official.
Rental shifts worry
At least two commissioners want the city to look into ways of preventing owner-occupied neighborhoods from sliding deeper into the rental housing market.
Commissioners Erv Hodges and John Nalbandian asked staffers to investigate options for regulating the rental of homes that previously had been owner-occupied dwellings.
Their reasons: Rental properties generally lead to the deterioration of a neighborhood through the increased presence of parking violations, trash, noise and otherwise blighted conditions.
"I think that it's commonly agreed that owner-occupied residences add more to the upkeep and sense of order in a neighborhood," said Nalbandian, who is particularly concerned about homes south of Kansas University, on both sides of Naismith Drive.
City Manager Mike Wildgen said other communities had instituted "rental standards" for homes converting to rentals, involving such issues as parking, inspections and registrations.
"You'd have to get a license, in effect, to do this," Wildgen said.
The concept didn't sit well with Commissioner Bob Moody, who owns five single-family rental homes and doesn't like the idea of additional regulations.
"I've got a big-time problem with that," he said.
Wildgen said staffers would have a report ready for the commission's consideration in about a month.
City OKs permit
for The Shelter Inc.
A nonprofit agency can go ahead and build a new home for children and teens removed from their own homes.
Commissioners unanimously approved a permit to allow The Shelter Inc., which provides homes for children aged 12 to 17, to build a new group home at 1615 Lindenwood Ln.
As planned, the 2,760-square-foot house will have six bedrooms and be built on a vacant lot less than a quarter-mile east of Memorial Park Cemetery. Construction should start early this year, said Judy Culley, the organization's executive director.