Archive for Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Open-space projects could cost millions

October 25, 2005


A request for millions of dollars to help buy or develop parks, preserves and a trail in Douglas County was put before the county commission Monday.

"I think that many of us have underestimated the natural resources in the area and their attraction," RoxAnne Miller, executive director of the Lawrence-based Kansas Land Trust and a member of the economic development board, told commissioners.

Miller said the economic development board recommended the community spend $2.35 million between now and 2015 for four specific open-space projects. Additionally, the board in a report recommended reserving another $2.65 million for future, undetermined open-space purchases.

"I'd like the commission to begin thinking on how you can plan for this and begin to budget some form of funding in the 2007 budget," Miller said.

County commissioners made no decisions regarding the request Monday, but commended the report, saying it had a decent chance of getting community support.

Commission Chairman Charles Jones said there likely will be some skepticism regarding the matter of open space and industrial space, which is something the economic board also has been focusing on.

"I hope we can keep everyone together and working on this," Jones said.

But commissioners also voiced concerns about the economic feasibility of the request.

One of the four cited projects involves the Two Rivers Trail, a project that would link trails along the Kansas and Wakarusa rivers. The project totals $5 million and includes a pedestrian bridge over the Kansas River near the intersection of Eighth and Oak streets.

"A $1.5 million pedestrian bridge is a high cost for something I see as having low use," Commissioner Jere McElhaney said.

Miller said a pedestrian bridge is considered more attractive for the trail than the Kansas River bridge connecting north and south Lawrence.

"The truth is, this type of commitment builds momentum," she said. "There is a good possibility of people from all over using it."

Forging ahead?

The following are the four open-space projects designated by the Lawrence-Douglas County Economic Development Board: ¢ Kansas River pedestrian bridge - The bridge would cross the river at approximately North Eighth and Oak streets in North Lawrence. It would connect to trails along the Kansas River and city trails that would lead all the way to the Wakarusa River. The entire bridge and trail project is estimated to cost $5 million. The report recommends funding of at least $1.5 million to get the project started. ¢ Black Jack Battlefield preservation - The report recommends $300,000 go toward paying land costs and restoring native prairies at the battlefield site east of Baldwin near U.S. Highway 56. ¢ Baldwin Woods preservation - Another $300,000 would be devoted to purchasing a conservation easement to ensure that development doesn't occur on 100 acres of high-quality forest immediately west of Kansas University's Breidenthal Biological Reserve near County Road 1055 north of Baldwin. ¢ Native prairie preservation - The report recommends $250,000 to preserve pieces of native prairie that still exist in the county. The location could be 150 acres of property near Lone Star Lake.


absolutelyridiculous 12 years, 8 months ago

NO. Time to prioritize. What about lower cost housing for this community. Seems like the Commission keeps getting sidetracked by well-intentioned folks when we have families that can't find affordable housing in this community. If we are destined to become "Pleasantville" than I'm outta here! People first.

monkeywrench1969 12 years, 8 months ago

Where are the proposals to purchase land for building and annexing 20 years down the road. They are limiting the use of land for growth thus reducing the supply and increasing the demand. That will furth er drive up the costs of the current land for building and the remaining plot.

Why do we have to save so much Prairie land. THis is a city of growth and potential. I came here to get out of western Kansas. West of Salina is plenty of Prairie AND NO ONE WANTS TO LIVE THERE SO THEY GIVE AWAY LAND. People go where the jobs are. Think about it Boog and the boys.

bangaranggerg 12 years, 8 months ago

Priorities must be set, no matter what issue they tackle first- just focus. Does the commission have A.D.D.? Every day the l-j announces something else they are cooking up at the board meetings. They keep discussing projects they might consider years down the road. Really, all I want is this- I want to hear more about projects being completed...not planned.

Godot 12 years, 8 months ago

Hey, someone at the LJW - you have the time and resources to do this, I don't.

Please compile a list of all the projects that all the taxpayer supported organizaitons have proposed for us to fund in the past two years, and what the proposed costs are. I can come up with some to get you started:

Expanded library/convention center/parking garage

Renovation of the old Carngie library.

Expansion to the hospital and addition of parking garage

Repairs to the schools, replace South JR High, and purchase of new technology for schools

Add roundabouts and other traffic snarling devices, thereby diverting traffic to 23rd and 6th.

Re-widening of 6th street (this time), and future needed re-widening of 6th street to handle unplanned for growth (and traffic diverted from streets with roundabouts).

Realignmnet of curb cuts on 23rd ($770mil figure is a joke, as it does not include the cost of condemning and purchasing land) This is required because the SLT has stalled.

Continuing to pay for the SLT, the road to nowhere, and the east Lawrence bypass as proposed by Schauner.

Purchase, and clean up, of the Farmland property (better hurry before some pesky private investor who would pay taxes on it snaps it up)

Purchase of greenspace surrounding Lawrence to further inhibit growth.

Multimillion dollar boondoggle pedestrian bridge over the Kaw that only a few people will use. Hint to city: buy a ferry.

Continuing to subsidize the failed Eagle Bend Golf Course.

Continuing to subsidize the T, the bus system that you have to offer for free because people won't pay to ride it.

And last, but certainly not least, the MILLIONS OF DOLLARS IT IS GOING TO COST TO FIX THE SANITARY AND STORM SEWER SYSTEMS, and resulting economic loss to the city from stifled growth.

Can't wait to see the article....and the total tax dollars we are expected to come up with

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 12 years, 8 months ago

One little tidbit Godot omits from his list-- almost every one of them is necessary because of growth. On the one hand, Godot wants more growth, and then whines because of all the new expenditures that growth necessitates.


bangaranggerg 12 years, 8 months ago

Katrina, Wilma, and Rita missed Lawrence, Kansas by hundreds of miles... however, estimates to rebuild the city are in the billions.

Godot 12 years, 8 months ago

Hey, Bozo,

The golf course, the bus, the roundabouts, the stalling of SLT are not about growth, they are an example of pure mismanagement of public funds.

The plans for the new library are not about growth, they are about "I want more luxury." If growth was the issue, then the library would be where the growth is - out west or east.

The sewer infrastructure has been broken for AT LEAST 20 YEARS (that's when I experienced a sewer backup caused by excess storm water in the sanitary system in OLW); the city folk have known for years that it needs to be fixed, and they haven't done it. The need for additional infrastructure is a growth thing, but if the city staff had 1) provided accurate growth projections to the consultant, and 2) even looked at the consultant's report with a skeptical eye, 3)done a better job of monitoring the type of permits that were issued, we wouldn't be in this fix. Again, pure mismanagement and ineptitude on the part of our city staff. Hey, you guys, wake up! That is what we hired you for.

The school situation isn't even about growth, it is about mismanagement and failure to plan for maintenance on an annual basis. The district isn't even growing. The fact that USD 497 has to send recruiters out to western kansas to scavenge headcount via the virtual school is proof.

The new green space proposal is not in the least about growth, it is all about stifling it. Take land that could be used for housing or commerce and, thereby create tax dollars, and instead put it to pasture, creating something that has to be maintained causing increased expenditure of tax dollars. A DOUBLE NEGATIVE.

The plan to purchase Farmland, again, is about government trying to take over something that should be done by private investors. It is all about government control, not about growth.

And the 23rd situation is not all about growth - it is about certain groups obstructing progress and wasting taxpayer money by stalling the SLT, while other poor souls are just trying to get THROUGH Lawrence to get to somewhere else.

Signed, Godot

Richard Heckler 12 years, 8 months ago

Green space is fine with me. The primary focus should be on attracting upscale jobs. Lawrence has the educated work force. We also have the work force for the service industry. Once upscale jobs are brought to Lawrence the educated force will move into those jobs thus opening up service job positions for others.

Actually it was determined years ago that a trafficway would not alter 23rd street traffic.

23rd Street Rehab Project:

Perhaps this idea should be tabled for further discussion.

There has also been talk of buying out some of the retail on 23rd to widen roads. That would be devastating to some retail operations and cost taxpayers way too much money. Frankly I believe the current project will kill some retailers. 23rd is what it is and we should learn to live with this deck of cards.

I think the money would be better spent creating bus stop cut outs on 23rd,Wakarusa,6th street and Iowa. Bus stops are relatively new to this equation and slow traffic flow considerably as they stop to pick up passengers.

23rd is about shopping,fast foods,KU Traffic and rush hour. Tons of new housing is on the table in SE Lawrence alone which will create more cars.

I say little can be done certainly nothing more than a band aid for the moment. Rush hours are not fun no matter what city and that is not likely to change. 23rd is not that hard to negotiate except for about 60 minutes of rush hour.

How about if we keep our focus on this project which might be more helpful on the long term. There is a more logical option that has not been put on the table which would relieve 31st and to a much much smaller extent 23rd. Building a bypass staying south of the river and completely out of the wetlands/flood zones which would require fewer bridges and connecting to an existing interchange(#1057) could save a few million.

Taking the bypass south of the river to interchange 1057 and K10 could take traffic north to I 70 as well.

This accomplishes many things. A. Services JOCO and Douglas County traffic going to NW Lawrence or Topeka B. Services the Eudora Business Park east of 1057 C. Services East Hills Business Park and the SE Work Center area west of 1057 D. Diverts traffic out around the city as it should E. Keeps the bypass entirely out of the wetlands F. HNTB has researched SLT/1057 option but was never put on the table H. Reduces traffic substantially on 31st I. Services Tonganoxie

Working with the Kansas Turnpike Authority could save Douglas County taxpayers untold millions of dollars.

Building this road at any cost at this point in time is simply not prudent use of Douglas County tax dollars.

Charles L. Bloss, Jr. 12 years, 8 months ago

Stop spending money on road projects, turn Lawrence into a giant roundabout. Thank you, Lynn

Richard Heckler 12 years, 8 months ago

Commuters seeking 23rd and 31st relief going east or coming west:

As you are returning from the KC/JOCO area watch for the 1057 interchange(1900rd/1057)

Go south to 458(1000rd)Turn right/west to 59 Hwy

Turn right on 59Hwy/Iowa to the bridge to nowhere(10-12 minutes) to 31st and Iowa(12-15 minutes) at 55 mph

Far more relaxing,quicker and scenic. 1057 interchange is also bridge number 1057.

Godot 12 years, 8 months ago

Or surround Lawrence with an oh-so-tasteful and historically significant, environmentally friendly, and indigenously approved, wall. Put gates at all entry points. Then build several soaring, criss-crossing overpasses, 100 feet up and higher, all made of pure crystal and gold, as that is what this city deserves.

Put guards at the gates who ask a series of probative questions to determine if you are to be allowed entrance, or are, instead, consigned to the roundabout that leads to the overpass.

The questions might include:

"Do you work for the government? Particularly in a professional position with a really big salary?" If yes, gain entrance. If you say "yes, but in a classified position," you might be told to go to Ottawa or McLouth.

"Do you own rental property?" A yes answer means a probable refusal of entrance, but, if you answer"yes" to "Are you a habitual user of pot?" that cancels out the sin of being a landlord and you gain entry.

"Do you work for a large corporation?" If yes, go directly to the roundabout. If it is Walmart or Halliburton, go directly to jail.

"Are you homeless?" If yes, come on in. If you play an instrument or do some other trick, they might even give you a ride to Mass street.

"Do you smoke?" If yes, go directly to the roundabout.

"Are you a student at KU or Haskell?" If yes, you've passed the first hurdle. The follow up question is, "Are you going to move away from Kansas after you graduate?" If yes, entrance is granted, If no, go directly to the roundabout that leads to Johnson County or Kansas State University.

"Are you gay?" If you respond no, they are to ask the question again, this time more gently, exuding warmth, with a soulful look, adding, "haven't you even tried?" If you say no, they are to ask, "Would you like to?" If you still say no, hightail it to the roundabout.

And, finally, "Who's your daddy?" If you say anything other than "government," then, sorry, Charlie, back up to the roundabout and head to wherever you came from that is not Lawrence. There's no room at the inn.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 12 years, 8 months ago

"The golf course, the bus, the roundabouts, the stalling of SLT are not about growth, they are an example of pure mismanagement of public funds."

All of the above, with the possible exception of the golf course, which was built prior to the PLC commissioners, are precisely about growth.

Before the T, Lawrence was the largest municipality in the country without a public fixed-route bus service. You obviously don't use it, but for a lot of people, it is an essential service, and in an economic system that allows people to become very rich, there must also be people who are too poor to have the cars necessary in a sprawled out city, and they are the ones who do all the dirty work you don't like to do. It also serves old people who can no longer drive, and blind people and others who you'd probably prefer didn't. As time goes by the system will improve, and ridership will increase, but neither will happen if it's killed because some people hate anything that doesn't directly benefit them.

And even though lots of people bitch, just because they like to hear themselves, roundabouts are an effective traffic control measure. I travel through 19th and Barker several times a day, and it's a vast improvement over 4-way stops, and an improvement that was necessitated by increasded traffic due to growth. And BTW, I've seen big trucks, fire trucks, and pedestrians go through just fine.

The library needs expansion because it was built for a town half our present size. Quibbling about the location for expansion does not change the fact that this is a result of growth.

The SLT is 1000% necessitated by growth, particularly on the far west side of town. So build it already-- just don't cram it down Haskell's throat-- they've been getting it from the other end from this town for decades. Enough already.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 12 years, 8 months ago

Your last post was cute, in a sick and bigoted kind of way, Godot, but if you are serious about addressing real problems, exaggerated "strawman" arguments are counter-productive. If you are merely interested in sitting on the sidelines making catcalls and throwing spitwads, you are on the right track.

Godot 12 years, 8 months ago

Hey, Bozo, Great post. I present ideas, you attack my character. You are, obviously, a graduate of the School of Soros.


just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 12 years, 8 months ago

I commented on your post, not your character. But maybe they are one and the same.

Godot 12 years, 8 months ago

I did not comment on your character, yet you made assuptions about mine.
Quote: Your last post was cute, in a sick and bigoted kind of way, Godot.

grace 12 years, 8 months ago

Godot - Why do you live in Lawrence if you find it so loathsome? Several communities surrounding Lawrence place a higher value on commerce and housing, while placing very little emphasis on open space. Maybe you would be more comfortable there. No parks, trails or natural attractions to distract people - just rows and rows of houses and strip malls. Hurray!!

bangaranggerg 12 years, 8 months ago

Hey, we can all agree on this- at least we're not Topeka.

TruthSeeker 12 years, 8 months ago

Lawrence still has a chance to make it the best place to live in Kansas or the Midwest. There are plans for growth in Lawrence that can be affordable, productive and beautiful. We just have to realize that growing out is not necessarily the only way to grow. We can re-use or revamp existing properties within the city limits and make beautiful neighborhoods which are just as desirable and much much more efficient use of land than succumbing to sprawl. Think outside the box and you might be surprised that what you once thought unacceptable is actually the best thing that ever happened.

Just because Greenspace has been put on the plan does not mean that plans for growth are not.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 12 years, 8 months ago

As your quote quite of my comment clearly indicates, it was about your post, not about you. I did find your post sick and bigoted, although with a cutesy style. Whether or not that describes you, as well, I have no idea. By your reaction, I would surmise that at least you believe it does.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 12 years, 8 months ago

I'm not aware of any vandalism, but your implication that "liberal" commissioners don't get threats or negative letters is absurd. Or don't you read this forum and newspaper (or larryville, for that matter?)

Godot 12 years, 8 months ago

Grace said, "Godot - Why do you live in Lawrence if you find it so loathsome?"

I don't find Lawrence loathsome. What I find loathsome is what the current crop of elected commissioners and appointed officials are trying to do to my fair city. If you re-read my posts, you will note they are criticizing the way the government operates, how much money it takes from us, how it spends that money, and how it is limiting the rights and privileges of the citizens.

I remember a time in Lawrence when it didn't take a committee of 12, plus two consultants, and a bond issue, just to change a lightbulb. It was a whole lot more fun and profitable back then.

Alison Smith 12 years, 8 months ago

Gawd, you guys! You have to spend money to make money....

Economic development for the price of a community amenity is an incredible return on taxpayers investment. If you don't believe me try to get a slice of pizza anywhere near LFS around lunch time during a swim meet.

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