For nine years, Ted Boyle has been president of the North Lawrence Improvement Assn. And for nine years, the No. 1 complaint of his neighbors has been the same: Flooding.
"Whenever it rains," he said of a low-lying area near Lyon Park, "it looks like a lake."
Now the city is going to take a closer look.
Officials last week said the city soon would undertake a $282,000 drainage study of North Lawrence, mapping out the areas most prone to flooding, why they flood and what to do about it.
The study was requested by the Lawrence-Douglas County Planning Commission last year when it drafted new floodplain development regulations. North Lawrence, planning commissioners said, was in need of special attention.
"North Lawrence clearly is the largest piece of our city that has the combination for both potential for catastrophic flooding and real challenges handling stormwater in ordinary situations," said Mayor David Dunfield, one of the city's leading advocates for floodplain controls. "Both of those are potentially very expensive and even life-threatening situations."
The study, he said, will help "resolve the question in some definitive way as to what kind of infrastructure and what kind of development are appropriate for North Lawrence -- and what we can do about protecting what's already there."
The study could lead to new development restrictions in North Lawrence. Boyle said that was fine with him if it helped neighbors.
"If it protects the established residents in North Lawrence, that's the way it will have to be," Boyle said. "Those areas in the floodplain should be a park, or jogging trail or green spaces. They should be left alone."
The study is one of three major city projects to combat flooding planned for 2004. The other two:
- Storm sewer improvements are planned for 21st Street between Kentucky Street and Barker Court, at a cost of $421,800.
- New culvert construction and other work is planned for the area of 13th and Oregon streets, at a cost of $2.25 million.
Boyle hopes the North Lawrence study will lead to similar construction projects in his neighborhood.
"Hopefully the study will confirm what we've been telling them for years," he said, "and hopefully they'll do a major capital improvement project up here."