The city's new $80 million sewage treatment plant should be built east of U.S. Highway 59, a team of city workers and consultants concluded.
"This will be a very important facility for Lawrence, not just simply for this decade and the next, but really for the rest of the century," acting City Manager David Corliss said.
The site would cover 530 acres, which the city will try to acquire from four property owners, Corliss said.
The city had been studying two possible primary locations south of the city near the Wakarusa River.
The preferred location, announced Thursday by Corliss, is bounded on the north and east by the Wakarusa River and Coal Creek, on the west by East 1600 Road, and would have a southern boundary between North 1175 and North 1100 roads.
The City Commission still must approve the site. And a public hearing on the issue will be from 6:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. Aug. 14 in the commission chambers at City Hall, 6 E. Sixth St. Residents in the area will have a chance to express their opinions and ask questions of city staff and consultants. Some city commissioners also may be there.
Sometime after the public hearing, commissioners will decide whether to approve the recommended site.
The city initially studied seven sites and earlier this year narrowed that list to two. The second site was west of U.S. Highway 59, east of East 1200 Road and south of the South Lawrence Trafficway. That site would have been more expensive and might have required relocating two residences, according to a consultant's report.
Estimated cost for the plant at the recommended site is about $80 million. The deadline for getting it built is 2011.
"The facility is needed because the community continues to grow," Corliss said. "We want to make sure that we have adequate infrastructure in place to support that growth."
More about the proposed plant
- 6News video: Sewer site proposed along Wakarusa River
- Will plant raise a stink? (06-25-06)
- Possible sewage sites narrowed to two (05-06-06)
- Chat with Lawrence City Commissioner Boog Highberger (04-20-06)
- Sewer rates could go up (04-01-06)
- City summit to focus on sewer difficulties (03-29-06)
- City to remain focused on traditional sewer plant (03-02-06)
- Mapping the Future
When the plant is built, it will initially have the capability of handling 7 million gallons of sewage per day. Its capacity will be increased as the city grows up to 150,000 people. The current plant on East Eighth Street east of Haskell Avenue can operate at 12.5 million gallons. It will continue to be used even when the new plant is built.
Mayor Mike Amyx and Commissioner Boog Highberger said they thought the recommended site was the best.
"This is obviously just the starting point, but everything I've seen, it meets the concerns I've had about a site," Amyx said.
Highberger predicted the commission would decide soon after the public meeting.
"I think given all the facts we've had to consider, it looks like the best site to me," he said. "I think the process has been pretty thorough."
The site is outside the city limits but in the urban growth area, an area around the city where future annexation is expected. If the southeast site is approved, it will be annexed into the city.
The site also fits the preferences of the Douglas County Commission.
"It's a city issue," County Commission Chairman Bob Johnson said. "We concurred that it would be best south of the (Wakarusa) river and east of Haskell (Avenue) and the Baker Wetlands. It sounds like it makes sense."
The city has conducted property appraisals and is beginning discussions with owners about purchasing the land at the site. Corliss identified the landowners as Peggy Flager, Norman Leary, Idessa Riley and Michael Coyne. Some properties may have joint owners, he said.
Though a final decision has yet to be made, some residents and landowners in the area are resigned to the city doing what it wants. Their main concerns are whether their well water and property values will be affected.
"They (the city) have assured us that the well won't be affected," said Nancy Othic, who has lived in the 1100 block of East 1550 Road for 30 years.
Residents also had initial concerns about odors from the plant, she said, but the city has told them that shouldn't be a problem.
Violet Walker, who lives near the Othics, noted that the site has flooded in the past. Corliss said the city would take flooding into consideration in building the plant.
The brunt of the cost of the plant will fall on rate payers, Corliss said. On Tuesday, the City Commission will discuss those rates.
Those who can't attend the Aug. 14 meeting can contact Assistant City Manager Debbie Van Saun, 832-3400, or firstname.lastname@example.org for additional information. A draft of the Wakarusa Water Reclamation Facility Design Report can be found online at http://www.lawrenceutilities.org/wwrf/index.shtml.