Some neighbors are complaining, but city officials say they don't expect the expansion at St. Lawrence Catholic Campus Center will have a dramatic impact on surrounding area traffic. That's why a proposed site plan for the expansion comes before Lawrence City Commission Tuesday with a positive recommendation from planners.
"From the very beginning, we've been working with the city to make sure we're in line with everything that's going to be required," said the Rev. Vince Krische. "They've been very helpful to us."
The center, which primarily serves Kansas University students, is nestled against KU at 1631 Crescent Road. St. Lawrence officials want to add 16,000 square feet that would include a lecture hall, library, computer center, offices and choir practice room, requiring the removal of an older home on the southeast corner of 15th Street and Engel Road.
The plan also includes construction of a two-level parking garage that would hold 174 cars 76 more than can fit into the center's existing parking lot.
That has been a concern to nearby residents, who say the nearby intersection of 15th Street and Engel Road is already dangerously maxed out with university commuters.
"It seems only reasonable to believe that an additional 76 parking spaces and a very substantial building addition will, in fact, mean more cars, more people and more congestion in our neighborhood," Philip and Brenda Kissam, who live about a block away from the center, wrote in a letter to city officials.
"Right now, we're overcrowded, and our parking is woefully inadequate," he said. "It will give us room so that the number of students are involved and interested we'll be able to serve them in a better and more efficient way."
According to a report by the Lawrence Planning Office, a private consultant said the new garage "is expected to have minimal impacts" on traffic.
"The city traffic engineer has reviewed the site plan and traffic study and has made no comments," the report stated.
Students who use the center are supportive of expansion.
"I think it's a great plan," said Emily Davis, a senior from Spring Hill. "It's going to allow a lot more people to participate and attract a lot of people who maybe didn't come around before."
Justin Mills, KU's student body president and a parishioner, agreed, saying the parking garage will actually alleviate problems.
"One of the biggest problems we have is parking," he said. "not only do students in dorms use it, but so do a lot of students who use it to park near the school."
The city commission meets at 6:35 p.m. Tuesday in City Hall, Sixth and Massachusetts streets.