Archive for Thursday, December 15, 2005

County wants city, schools to take lead on sports complex

December 15, 2005


Douglas County commissioners are willing to put up some money to help pay for a study to determine the need for a youth multisport complex; they just aren't sure how much.

"I think we should be in for something," Jones said.

Jones and Commissioner Bob Johnson said the idea of a sports complex was worth pursuing but that the lead role should be taken by the city's Parks and Recreation Department or by the Lawrence school district.

Commissioners responded after hearing a proposal from Bonnie Lowe for a feasibility and needs assessment study to be funded by the county, city, school district and possibly the Lawrence Chamber of Commerce.

She will meet with the City Commission on Tuesday and the school board on Jan. 9.

Lowe said she had talked to three companies that could conduct the study and estimated that the cost could be from $50,000 to $75,000.

Lowe said she was representing a group called Partners for Lawrence Athletics & Youth, or PLAY, a group of local residents "promoting the future athletic needs of the community."

Jones and Johnson said they thought the county's role in funding the study should be minimal. Putting up a third of the money could open the door to similar requests from Baldwin and Eudora, they said.

"I think the lead pony should be somebody other than the Douglas County Commission," Johnson said.

Lowe said she would meet with commissioners again after she obtains more specific cost estimates for the study and hears what the city and school board have to say.

Lowe also said she thought private corporations might be willing to help pay for a sports complex. The study would determine the need and scope of a complex.

Such a sports center, Lowe has said, might be similar to Hummer Sports Park in Topeka. That park, built for $17.5 million after Topeka voters in 2001 approved a bond issue to finance it, is located on the grounds of the former Topeka State Hospital. It has a stadium and other facilities for six sports: football, track, baseball, softball, soccer and swimming.


Richard Heckler 12 years, 2 months ago

The private investors should put up the $75,000 study money. Certainly not the school district. Why don't investors build a BMX bicycle track?

Let's introduce Criquet, Croquet and BMX competition to the school athletics program with new public,city and county funding

Also I would like the city and county make sure the Public School music program is well funded.

Doesn't KU still allow it's stadium area for some athletics programs?

Once the stadium is built who picks up the tab for staffing and maintenance?

The bottom line is that the real estate brokers think the city needs more to attract home buyers. Lawrence is having no problem attracting home buyers. What Lawrence needs more than lots of new housing is excellent paying jobs. Meanwhile put public money into existing facilities and staffing and do not micro-manage.

What happens if the project fails? Taxpayers grab your wallets.

Jeanne Cunningham 12 years, 2 months ago

We have kids with no shoes, barely any clothes, no food on the table and maybe/maybe not a roof over their heads, and some people think we should be building ANOTHER sports complex??? The one we have IS nice, but of course the kids who CAN afford to get there CAN pay to join a private club and the kids who would love to be there can't afford to get there - and/OR it's so far away from where they live they can't possibly walk to it.

Why not expand/improve the gymnasiums at all the schools, add some staff to monitor and open up after school hours? Those facilities that are already built and being lit, heated or cooled have already been paid for and are located close enough to each kid that he/she should be able to get there by the same method he/she gets to school - MOST withing walking distance. Not to mention that the occupancy should already be fairly adequate for the need as it should closely match (or be something less, in fact) than the school's population.

I suppose that's just way too practical and some people who would make a bundle of money on some big, shiny new facility wouldn't make all that money - BUT, you and I WILL have to pay for it...

Richard Heckler 12 years, 2 months ago

Let's keep stuff in the neighborhoods. A BMX track would be cool and bring on Cricket as someone has suggested. Some new activities would be cool but keep it in the neighborhoods. Moms and Dads really do not enjoy driving all day long.

YSI offers plenty of Soccer opportunities.

chsn3boys 12 years, 2 months ago

YSI offers more then just soccer. They also have fields for Baseball, softball, t-ball, football, soccer. Its just expensive to play the sports that they offer and I hope that with a new sports complex they don't raise the prices even more or some people might have to take out a loan just so there kids can be involved in sports... I do agree with you though about a BMX track, my son would like LOVE that, and the skate parks are just always so busy that they can't hardly move...

dviper 12 years, 2 months ago

This idea sounds really great on the surface; however there simply isn't enough information and hard facts to make a good decision. I would like the LJW to provide information about Topeka's sports park, such as total annual revenue, and expenses for each of the last 5 years.

Bottom line is that a project like this has to be financially feasible and totally self supporting. My speculation is that it probably isn't, otherwise this group lead by Bonnie Lowe would not need to find other means to finance or 'study' this project. Additionally, I would not want the city of Lawrence involved in this project. The city has clearly demonstrated that it can not adequately maintain the infrastructure of this city, and we the taxpayers are already funding too many services that are financial drains and failures.

Godot 12 years, 2 months ago

One person gets an idea a couple of months ago, puts together a committee, presents it to the city and county and already a $75,000 study to consider the idea is actually under consideration? I have a suggestion: wait at least six months. Just think about it awhile before you go and hire a consultant. This is really, really rash behavior.

irnmadn88 12 years, 2 months ago

Youth Sports Incorporated (YSI) is a partnership of baseball, football, and soccer programs operated independently of the Lawrence Parks and Recreation Department. YSI pays LPRC to maintain the complex from monies collected from it's user groups...

USD 497 pays a user fee for baseball, softball, and soccer to be played at YSI. More often than not it is LHS paying to use the facility because Freestate has it's own facilities at the school excluding football. Care to guess the annual expense for USD 497 to play at Haskell, KU's Memorial Stadium, and YSI?

As for using the school district buildings...many gymnasiums double as auditoriums and are scheduled as such for school activities.

There is a masterplan already paid for on record with the City to develop more athletic facilities on south side of Eagle Bend Golf Course...but where is the funding to build it going to come from? Who is going to operate it?

There is alot of history with the debate of athletic facilities. Unfortunately there was very little unified effort. Maybe this initiative will bring ALL interested parties to the table and not just be another pipedream.

Richard Heckler 12 years, 2 months ago


Thanks for the info. This is where the city/county could financially assist the school district and between the three should be able to provide our children plenty to do within the neigborhoods and elsewhere should the situation dictate. Finishing the bike trail would nice for residents of all ages. Public funds would likely be accepted with open arms so long as a dictate is not attached.

Kodiac 12 years, 2 months ago

With Sport-2-Sport closing, Lawrence has lost a major recreation center (with 3 large basketball courts). Sport-2-Sport offered programs that Parks & Rec were unable to offer because of lack of facilities. Lawrence needs these programs and choices. The kids that went to Sport-to sport now really have no place to go and are looking to Parks and Rec for space. For example my son would love to play a second session of youth basketball but can't because Parks and Rec has no space to do it. The bottom line here is that Lawrence needs to expand our existing programs.

jackmofo 12 years, 2 months ago

I think we just need a casino! I am sick and tired of my hard earned dollars getting wasted in Topeka and KC. Oh ya.....while we are at it.....we need another strip club! Has anyone been to the outhouse lately....gross!

kcwarpony 12 years, 2 months ago

Let it be known for now on that macon47's Indian name will be Walking Eagle.

A bird so full of **** it can't fly.

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