More questions arise over Salvation Army project

Plans to build a Salvation Army homeless shelter and service center in East Lawrence are still moving forward, but it is still uncertain exactly what type of services the new facility will be allowed to provide.

City commissioners at their Tuesday meeting left several questions hanging over a plan to build a new Salvation Army community center on the west side of Haskell Avenue between Lynn and Homewood streets.

Neighbors in the area had proposed a list of conditions that they are seeking the Salvation Army to agree to as part of the city approval process. Among the conditions are assurances that the Salvation Army won’t offer a community meal program at the site – which has been a staple of the organization – and won’t offer laundry services or showers to transients who need services but do not enroll in a Salvation Army program.

“Many of the neighborhood conditions would eliminate the ability of the Salvation Army to be the Salvation Army,” said Dick Zinn, a Lawrence attorney and member of the Salvation Army’s local board. “We just cannot agree to that.”

But neighbors told commissioners that they wanted legally enforceable conditions to ensure that a new facility would not create problems for the existing neighborhood.

Commissioners agreed to initiate a rezoning for the property, and agreed that it should have conditions that limit the uses on the property. But commissioners did not get specific about what those conditions should be. Instead they asked staff members to work with both groups.

The Salvation Army had received its necessary city approval more than a year ago, but efforts to raise approximately $3.5 million for the project have not been completed, and thus a site plan for the project expired because construction had not begun during a one year period.

In other city commission news:

¢ Commissioners agreed to provide up to $20,400 in funding to Downtown Lawrence Inc. to use for marketing purposes during the downtown waterline improvement project, contingent upon downtown businesses being able to match the city’s contribution dollar for dollar.

¢ Commissioners agreed to new union contracts with the International Association of Firefighters Local 1596 and the Lawrence Police Officers Assn. Both contracts give firefighters and police officers a 3 percent pay increase for 2007.