Archive for Thursday, February 9, 2006

Authorities concerned sewer project won’t be ready on time

February 9, 2006


Tensions increased Wednesday over concerns that a new $76 million sewer plant - deemed critical to future city growth - won't be built on time.

"Getting this plant on line by 2011 is absolutely imperative," said Phil Struble, president of Landplan Engineering. "It will impact projects all over Lawrence."

The concerns about the project's progress were voiced at a joint meeting of city, county and school district officials.

The meeting was meant to give planners a better sense of whether to select a site east or west of U.S. Highway 59 for the plant slated to be built south of the Wakarusa River.

But instead, the meeting raised doubts that elected officials have fully considered how the new waste treatment facility might shape development for decades to come.

"I can't think of many issues that will have a bigger, long-term impact on this community," said Douglas County Commission Chairman Charles Jones. "I just think we need to talk through more of these issues."

Not only are city officials still trying to select a site, but also what type of plant will be built there.

The facility is expected to be the single most expensive public works project in Lawrence history. It has major ramifications for the school district, the county and the city because it is expected to play a large role in shaping the direction of future development.

If the plant is built west of U.S. 59, officials predict it will spur growth in the next 25 years that will more likely stay within the boundaries of the Lawrence school district. If the plant is built east of the highway, it likely would spur growth in the Baldwin school district.

But the joint meeting produced more questions than answers.

Board members and commissioners debated whether a full analysis should be done comparing the costs of southwest versus southeast growth.

For example, Jones said it seemed clear that growth to the southwest would better benefit the Lawrence school district. But growth to the southeast, he said, may produce fewer infrastructure costs related to roads and may make more sense given that Johnson County has become a major employment base for Lawrence residents.

Though development isn't expected to happen right next to a sewer plant, its location is expected to direct growth because it will determine where developers can most cheaply install sewers and thus more cheaply build homes.

"I'm afraid we're about to let sewers guide our growth, when it really should be the other way around," Jones said.

But extensive analysis could push the plant behind schedule, which could cause the city's building industry to grind to a halt by 2011. Engineers have said the city's one existing sewer treatment plant wouldn't have capacity to handle sewage from new developments.

"We have a drop-dead date here, and this is an issue that you really don't want to drop dead on," City Commissioner Sue Hack said.

But some city commissioners said they didn't like the idea of making such an important decision without more information.

City Commissioner David Schauner said the community would pay for a bad decision for years to come through increased operation and infrastructure costs, all of which would lead to higher utility bills and taxes.

"It is possible that there could be some short-term consequences if we don't get it done by 2011, but there could be some real long-term consequences if we just focus on meeting an artificial deadline," Schauner said.

Struble told the group that if the plant falls behind schedule, it would severely damage Lawrence's ability to grow.

"There are so many projects tied to getting that done by 2011 because there is really no doubt that the current plant will be out of capacity. I have no question about that," Struble said.

Though 2011 is still five years away, the project already is on a tight timeline. The project requires a multitude of state and federal permits. Design work on the plant also can't begin until a site is selected. Getting a specific site - which could be several hundred acres - could be a year-long process because it likely will involve negotiating with several landowners. Design work is expected to take two years, and construction would take another two years.

Members from each of the three governments agreed to consider issues related to the sewer plant and meet again as a group, likely within a month, to try to form a consensus. Technically, the site selection decision rests entirely with city commissioners.


Richard Heckler 12 years, 2 months ago

Nothing will bring Lawrence economic growth to a halt. Simply cannot happen. If more large housing developments cannot start that does not stop economic growth from taking place. That is a scare tactic and a myth.

When does the talk of bringing new high paying jobs begin? This should be our top priority Commissioner Jones? We did not elect you to build homes. We don't elect any commissioners to cater to the housing industry.

There is space available for light industry which should translate into high paying jobs. High paying jobs keep money in Lawrence and Douglas County thus economic growth. Why not build a communitycollege/vo tech and further expand on the education industry in addition to high tech/bio tech? Bio Tech/high tech are the types of industry that will have a positive impact on redcuing property taxes according to what I read.

Who is seeking out high paying jobs for Lawrence? Lawrence deserves a monthly report on this progress.

theifoncross 12 years, 2 months ago

Here! Here! merrill

Also why can't these sewer problems be solved on the grassroots level? Humanure? Composting toilets? If people are so afraid of what comes out of their bodies why don't they care what they put in?

It could even be a selling point for the suburbanites ...." All the organic compost you could ever use: for FREE"

Does kansas not spread "treated" waste on farm feilds already? Why are we letting others make money off of us? Lets put this( Watch your mouth! The words "s--t" are not allowed here.) to work!

average 12 years, 2 months ago

Why does this have to be our problem? Say "these are the lines and we annex no more". No restriction, though, on allowing other people to found other towns. "Rever humecter de Compton, Kansas"? Let them try out free-market competitive sewers or something.

The reason we can't do that is the hyperventilated fear that someone else is growing, and we aren't. And, not continually growing power is the biggest fear of capitalists and bureaucrats alike.

Same thing with the bureaucrats worried that growth might end up in the Baldwin or Perry school districts. Cry me a frickin Wakarusa river. USD 497 doesn't get the precious $, but they don't have to teach the child. It's all because they fear that someone else will have more 'power' and they won't.

theifoncross 12 years, 2 months ago

Marion? (sorry to strike a nerve, But did ur parents force you to eat lots of tofu and make your own soymilk when u was a child):) SORRY Just trying to make a bad joke and keep it friendly

Real. Wow. Have you read the book? i have not i have just been around the book, and had neibors in the city of lawrence who used this method in their own house. I thought i was as suprised as anyone else growing up in JC so disconnected from compost except the lawnclippings food scrap pile that was used to mix with soil evry 5 or 6 years when one of parents got the urge to maintain a garden for a year or so.

As to suburbanites i think i qualify to some degree. And as i drive out of town south i see all sorts of housing developements that have like 3 to 5 acers. So i thought there was a trend of people wanting to move away from the houses that are 12 ft apart from each other, to have a little space and privacy while at the same time having access to good schools internet cable tv Black top roads etc...

duh nobody would wanna live in a cardbord shotgun shack, if mass people wanted to do that it would have happened already. Seems they do want to live outside the city in a city like home.

And i agree the answer to FF is not burning wood trees.

Seems like Nuclear is a pretty safe(more or Less) renewable energy until photo synthesis or wind or cold fussion (or fission) , or even ice 9 .

As for toxins look at a can of oven cleaner or toilet cleaner. Meat not properly stored at proper temperatures (or mad cow) Fruits and Vegistables harvested with hepatitus and other germs all over them. So people are not to bad with dangerous toxins i mean atleast Led paint chips have a sweet taste to them.

I think homes should be built out of materials that will long out live the life of tree wood, and should be insulted to the max with polystyrene( i would be open to some of it even being recycled if need be)

Where are you getting all this stuff? What is reality anyway?

I guess you might be going extreme to make a point which i think is great, got my attention.

So what should we do? i have no idea at all what to do with the future needs for septic waste from the sprawling homes? Can it be dumped in nuclear cooling towers and safely insinerated?

lunacydetector 12 years, 2 months ago

they need to build it east of highway 59 because then they will pick west of highway 59. it seems anything i suggest, the commission seems to do exactly the opposite. i must have a jinx. i can't figure them out.

growth is inevitable. might as well make it where the land is more beautiful. everything grows west. go west young man, or should it be east?

the question should be: If Lawrence had the opportunity to merge with another community, would you rather have our city hookup with lovely north Ottawa, or beautiful east Topeka? :)

theifoncross 12 years, 2 months ago

I love you Marion ! unless u are mocking me.

Commenting has been disabled for this item.