Kansas University has started negotiations with the city of Lawrence for building a $6 million boathouse for the university rowing team at Burcham Park along the Kansas River.
Lawrence city commissioners on July 17 unanimously told staff members to move ahead on negotiations, which would be funded entirely by KU.
University leaders had promised the team a state-of-the-art facility when the sport was elevated to varsity status in 1995.
Currently, the 72-member team has a dock on the Kansas River but uses a small fenced area at the park to store its boats. The new two-story building - complete with boat storage, locker rooms and training facilities - would be a major improvement for the team and the park, KU leaders said.
"My impression is that a lot of the neighbors in that area don't go to that park because of safety issues," Steven Maynard-Moody, the team's faculty adviser, said in July of the park near Second and Indiana streets. "The biggest way to improve safety is to just get positive activity in the park."
Lawrence-based Treanor Architects is designing the project. Andrew Pitts, an architect for the company, said plans called for the building to be kept off the bank about 75 feet so that it would not dominate the landscape. The location of the building would be north and west of the existing shelter house at the park.
KU rowing coach Rob Catloth said his team practiced almost every day from late September to May. He said he'd like to see the boathouse host two to four competitions - regattas - each year.
The building still must receive necessary Planning Commission and land use approvals. Ultimately, commissioners will have to formally approve the lease and the entire project later this year.