Welcome to our online chat with Fred DeVictor, Lawrence Parks and Recreation Department director.
The chat took place on Thursday, May 25, at 1:30 PM and is now closed, but you can read the full transcript on this page.
Moderator: Hello and welcome to our chat today with Fred DeVictor, director of Lawrence's Parks and Recreation Department.
I'm Dave Toplikar, online editor, and I'll be serving as the moderator today.
Fred thanks for coming down to the News Center on this warm day.
I understand it's supposed to be pretty hot Saturday for the opening of the Outdoor Aquatic Center. Can you start off by telling us what patrons will find this year at the center?
Fred DeVictor: The outdoor aquatic center will open Saturday at 1 PM to begin its 11th season. The regular hours will be daily from 1 -8:45 PM through when school begins in late summer but will be open through Labor Day. Our staff of lifeguards have been going through a lot of training including emergency training with the Fire and Medical Dept. today.
There are many fun features to this swimming pool, including a new drop slide, which was new last year, and other slides and water features.
David, Lawrence: I just returned from a run around Lawrence with some other old men. We need more water fountains.
As of Tuesday, the fountain in South Park was still not turned on. In previous years this fountain has always been turned on by this time of year. Two fountains were removed from the train park on 6th and Kentucky last year. Today we ran by the park on 15th 2 blocks west of Haskell and found no water. Finally we stumbled in to Babcock Place where we found some water.
Please consider providing some more water fountains.
Fred DeVictor: David, oops, apparently we have missed getting some fountains turned on, unless there are leak or other plumbing problems with the individual drinking fountains you mention. We will have these site checked and turned on as soon as we can. Thanks for alerting us to this.
Rik Lawrence: Can something be done with the CLSC fields to prevent them from ending up like concrete? people are getting hurt due to the slippery conditions this creates
Philip, Lecompton: I'm on several Lawrence softball teams. Why are the infields so hard this year? It's like playing on pavement. Someone is going to get hurt on those surfaces. Ground balls are taking funny hops and cleats are not getting traction.
Fred DeVictor: Rik and Philip, This year we have placed ag lime on these infields to assist us in maintenance and to reduce rainouts, which has been a major problem to us and league teams. We want to provide the safest field conditions possible and part of our regular maintenance is the need to water these fields in a more timely manner daily to keep them from drying out completely and hardening. We have discussed this among our staff to make sure they are in good condition and I trust they will be a great improvement for league play.
Ann Marie: My question has to do with the softball fields at Sunset Hill, Deerfield, Hillcrest, and Broken Arrow. Why doesn't Parks & Rec rent those fields in the summer months from the school district and use them for summer youth softball games? Surely the schools can use the extra revenue and Parks & Rec can use the extra field space. Parks & Rec could do the upkeep on the fields for a reduced rate. Perhaps there's a parent or two who can volunteer to do the field prep as well. I would even be willing to pay up to a 10% softball fee increase (from $35 to $40). There's at least 10 girls on my daughter's softball team this year and there are twelve teams in her league. That would give $600 ($5 x 10 girls x 12 teams) extra for the girls league for 1st and 2nd graders alone.
Fred DeVictor: Ann Marie, We are responsible for and reserve the fields at Deerfield and Broken Arrow Parks for practices and games by calling the Community Bldg. at 832-7920. Reservations can be made up to one week in advance.
LPRD used to utilize the field at Sunset Hills School for games and practice but lack of adequate staff has meant that we cannot take care of all the fields. There also are some concern of the size of field areas in some neighborhoods to provide safe facilities without affecting private residents.
As warmer weather comes, what are your plans to work with local law enforcement to keep our parks safe for everyone? Some parks in the city (Specifically Edgewood Park) are filled with less than desirable elements. This poses a threat to not only the families who want to visit the parks, but also those who live in the neighborhood.
Fred DeVictor: David, LPRD does not have a park patrol but rely on our great police department to help enforce regulations in our parks. Park regulations are for the safety of all, for example, we do have park closing hours. We encourage users to be aware of their surroundings and avoid any situation where you may be uncomfortable in any public area. Please call us or the police to report incidents or damage in parks so we can address it in a timely manner. If you jog or hike, recreate with a friend.
We do suggest safety measures in our summer activity brochure. Your safety is our concern.
sjackson/lawrence: Why are the slow pitch softball leagues allowed to scatter trash and beer cans all over the parking areas by the ball field. People walk on that parking lot and have to step over the trash.
Fred DeVictor: By city regulations 3.2 beer is allowed to be consumed in parks, except in certain areas like ball diamonds, recreation centers, etc. We try to clean up all parks and particularly areas like what you refer to by ball diamonds and picnic shelters on a daily basis. We do know that some park users recycle aluminum cans.
Ray, Lawrence: I was at a meeting 1or 2 years ago where you outline some neat and big plans out by Clinton Lake. What the status? How much is it going to cost?
Fred DeVictor: Ray, In 1995 the City of Lawrence leased land from the Corp of Engineers at Clinton lake. In 2003 a 20 year land use and master plan for a 1600 acre leased area below the dam at Clinton Lake and was completed and sent to the City Commission.
Recognize that this is a long term plan for a regional park, and we will work toward its goals as time and money allows. Much of what we want to accomplish here is to preserve much of this open natural areas - there are some great vistas overlooking the Wakarusa Valley for folks to enjoy.
Much has been accomplished already. This is the land where YSI, Clinton Lake Softball Complex, Eagle Bend Golf Course are located. Within the last several years a dog park and the new Rotary Arboretum have been completed. Sesquicentennial Point and Plaza, which was initiated during our 150th birthday in 2004, is slated to begin later this year.
Again we will continue to work toward this plan as we can. As time goes on this will be a fine addition to the park system in Lawrence.
Jen, Topeka: Why did the CLSC get so picky about allowing in pets (provided the owners are cleaning up after them) in the ball park? I could see if the pets were running unsupervised/marking everything in sight, that it could be an issue. But if the owners are being responsible, what's the harm?
Fred DeVictor: Jen, I do not think we have allowed pets in this facility since we opened it in 1997. For safety reasons we do not want pets, bikes, skateboards in facilities where there are children and active play. We have a supervisor on duty at CLSC but there is playground equipment and landscaped areas inside this complex and do have complaints about pets. Why risk accidents with pets in this active area?
Terry: I have for a long time wished Lawrence had "theater in the park" and/or "Shakespeare in the Park" programs during summer months. Some of the larger Kansas counties (e.g. Johnson, Sedgwick) have such programs, and they are well received and attended. Free to attend and performed by (largely) volunteers. Would you or your staff be interested in working with a local group of thespians who would like to provide such programs?
Fred DeVictor: We'd be happy to work with groups to help facilitate a number of interests. LPRD started the Summer Youth Theatre in the early 70's and now the Lawrence Arts Center operates that program.
We have discussed a Shakespeare in the Park program in the past. Much of the bottom line is dollars to begin and maintain new programs . It isn't too far to attend Theatre in the park in Johnson County and Starlight Theatre in Swope park in kansas City. Topeka has a park theatre program in Gage Park. Contact me in the office 832-3450 and we'd be willing to discuss this further if there would be non city funds to help such a program get off the ground.
Julie, Lawrence: Thanks for the information earlier about the pool. I'm trying to decide if I am going to buy the reduced rate pass for the summer, but lap swimming times aren't available on the website yet. Can you tell me what they are expected to be?
Fred DeVictor: For interested swimmers we offer monthly passes and year long passes at our aquatic facilities. Through today and tomorrow at the Indoor Aquatic Center you can purchase three monthly pass for the summer for $48.00 and you would get in the outdoor pool during May through Labor Day. We are hoping to help patrons save any waiting in line this weekend at the outdoor pool to purchase passes.
We also have replaced our ticket booklet with a punch card system.
Morning lap swim hours begin at the outdoor pool from 10 AM-12:45 PM beginning June 5. Lap swimming will be available during all open hours from 1 -8:45 PM with a limited number of lanes available.
Max - Lawrence: Could you discuss briefly the role parks and recreation plays in enhancing a healthier lifestyle for Lawrence residents?
Fred DeVictor: Max, A healthy lifestyle is one that we as individuals choose. We feel there are many, many opportunities in Lawrence for citizens to choose to hike jog, bike on trails; benefit from parks and public spaces by sitting on a park bench and reading or listening to a Wednesday night band concert in South Park; participate in active or passive parks and recreation programs and activities. Many folks "use" parks by just driving by a landscaped area and enjoy seeing the beauty of it and the many trees in our community. I think many feel as I do that parks play a major role in our quality of life in our community and do improve mental and physical well being of our citizens.
Moderator: That will be our last question of the day.
Fred, thanks for being with us today. I'd also like to thank our readers for submitting so many questions.
Fred DeVictor: Thanks for this opportunity to answer these inquiries and to explain our City services more. There have been many questions we have not had time to answer. Please feel free to send to our office 832-3450 or our website lprd.org and we will try to answer them. Check out our website when you have time. Thanks to the Journal World for this service. Fred