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Archive for Wednesday, March 31, 1999

CITY BRIEFS - DRAINAGE PROJECTS TO SOAK UP $900,000

March 31, 1999

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Drainage projects

to soak up $900,000

The city will pour the $900,000 it saved on previous drainage improvements into another half dozens projects, Lawrence city commissioners decided Tuesday.

Commissioners approved a resolution outlining the city's intent to spend up to $900,000 for drainage projects at the following locations:

  • Ninth Street, from Vermont to New Hampshire streets.
  • 29th Court.
  • Eighth and Pennsylvania streets.
  • Clinton Parkway (new drain inlets).
  • Michigan Street, from Seventh to Ninth streets.
  • Ridge Court.

The money, generated by the city's monthly drainage charges on city utility bills, is leftover from two other construction projects that recently were completed: one to reduce flooding in the area of Second and Michigan streets and another along Carolina Street south of 21st Street.

All of the projects were identified in the city's Stormwater Master Plan as necessary to resolve drainage problems in the affected areas.

Residents seek

drainage relief

Residents along Eight Street in North Lawrence are sick of watching water run through their homes when it rains, and they're turning to the city for help.

The North Lawrence Improvement Assn. formally asked commissioners to follow through with plans to upgrade drainage in the area along Eighth, between Oak and Locust streets.

Commissioners asked staffers to compile a report to outline possibilities, but residents aren't holding their breath. Discussions with officials already have indicated that the work could be 10 or 20 years away.

"Twenty years is too long to wait," said Debbie Chalender, who has been forced out of her home during heavy rains because of high water. "In 20 years, it may be up to my roof."

Three years ago, the city's Stormwater Master Plan estimated the project to cost $1.648 million, and the cost estimate didn't escape the eyes of commissioners and staffers.

City Manager Mike Wildgen could have a report ready in two weeks, and buying out property owners could be among the possible solutions.

"You could buy a lot of houses for that kind of money," Wildgen said.

City defers review

of Oread parking ban

A plan to prohibit parking just north of the Kansas University campus is on hold.

Commissioners deferred consideration of a recommendation to prohibit parking on Oread Avenue, between 12th and 13th streets. The ban would eliminate parking spaces generally between the Adams Alumni Center and Yello Sub, some of the closest on-street spaces to campus.

Mayor Marty Kennedy said the recommendation came as crews were preparing to start construction of a new parking garage at Kansas University, just north of the Kansas Union. Plans call for adding a right-turn lane to get into the garage from Oread, which means the parking would have to be removed.

Commissioners deferred the decision, Kennedy said, because key university representatives were out of town and because members of the Oread Neighborhood Assn. wanted more time to review the no-parking plan.

Intersection project

reduces accidents

What was the city's most accident-prone intersection two years ago isn't even in the top 40 today, thanks to a reconstruction project that added turn lanes and new signals at 23rd and Massachusetts streets.

Commissioners received a report outlining the before-and-after effects of the controversial reconstruction project, which began in late 1996 and ended in late 1997.

The bottom line: While 101 accidents were reported at the intersection in 1992-1995 -- including 78 that might have been prevented had turn lanes been in place -- last year's tally rang up only 10 crashes.

That's good enough for a drop to 45th on the city's accidents-per-intersection list.

"The results are much better than even the most optimistic prediction prior to construction," said David Woosley, the city's traffic engineer, in his written report.

Fifth lane proposed

for Sixth Street

Sixth Street could be in line for a fifth lane along the northern edge of the Old West Lawrence neighborhood.

Commissioner Erv Hodges suggested adding the lane as part of this summer's scheduled repaving of Sixth, from Vermont to Arkansas streets.

Currently Sixth has only four lanes between Kentucky and Alabama streets, with parking on both sides. That parking would be removed, under Hodges' proposal, and a center turn lane would be installed in its place.

"I would recommend we do it to improve traffic flow and improve safety," said Hodges, who recalls at least 38 accidents along the four-lane stretch.

While commissioners already have agreed to repave Sixth -- earlier this month, they agreed to accept up to $150,000 from the Kansas Department of Transportation to help finance the overlay project -- they have not signed off on the new lane. That would come after the April 6 commission election, and only then after the public has had a chance to check it out.

Commissioner John Nalbandian, who is not seeking re-election, suggested installing raised medians along the stretch of Sixth -- possibly with landscaping or bricks inside -- to help demarcate the area as being adjacent to Old West Lawrence, a neighborhood characterized by some of Lawrence's oldest homes.

Los Amigos gets

liquor license

A North Lawrence bar won approval for the renewal of its liquor license, but it will face another review in six months.

Commissioners approved a license for Los Amigos, 508 Locust, that requires the bar to close by 1:30 a.m. each night and stop serving drinks by 1 a.m. Other provisions involve installing new exterior lights and hiring private security patrols to help maintain order.

The changes were intended to help address complaints of noise, trash, traffic, illegal parking and violence in the neighborhood as a result of the bar's operations. But at least one resident wasn't happy with the results.

"This ordinance will make that two- or three-block area like a prison camp -- with the lighting and security guards around there," said Ted Boyle, president of the North Lawrence Improvement Assn., which previously pushed for stricter rules on behalf of neighbors. "These people feel like they've been slapped in the face by the city commission."

Boyle told commissioners that he was lodging a "formal complaint" against the commission's decision, although it was unclear what effect such a complaint would have.

Either way, commissioners -- on a 4-1 vote, with Commissioner Bob Moody opposed -- approved new rules for the bar and agreed that the license should be reviewed in another six months.

Hy-Vee gets clearance

for building permit

Hy-Vee can go ahead and start building Lawrence's largest grocery store, just as soon as it secures a $100,000 surety bond to ensure that necessary drainage work will be part of the project.

Commissioners approved an "agreement to plat" for the Hy-Vee project, slated for the northwest corner of Sixth Street and Monterey Way. The agreement -- necessary to receive a building permit -- is contingent to the company posting a bond related to drainage projects, both on site and across Sixth Street.

Hy-Vee plans to build a 66,000-square-foot supermarket alongside an additional 33,000 square feet of retail space. The $10 million project will be built by Hy-Vee Weitz Construction of Des Moines, Iowa, and is one of 21 new stores the company plans to open in 1999.

Dillons is building a 48,000-square-foot store down the street at the southeast corner of Sixth Street and Wakarusa Drive. The Dillons also is expected to open by year's end.

City to negotiate

for waterline engineers

City Manager Mike Wildgen can go ahead and negotiate with BG Consultants for a contract to handle engineering services for seven upcoming waterline-installation projects, commissioners decided.

The projects lines up for work:

  • Vermont Street, from 19th to 23rd streets.
  • Massachusetts Street, from 19th to 23rd streets.
  • Vermont Street, from 11th to 13th streets.
  • 21st Street, from Louisiana to Massachusetts streets.
  • 11th Street, from Connecticut to Delaware streets.
  • Ohio Street, from 21st Street to 2229 Ohio.
  • Ohio Street, from 18th to 19th streets.

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