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Archive for Wednesday, July 18, 2007

KU boathouse along Kaw gets go-ahead

Rowing team plans $6M facility at Burcham Park

July 18, 2007

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Kansas University Athletic officials hope to build a $6 million boathouse for the KU rowing team at Burcham Park. Lawrence city commissioners on July 17 approved moving ahead on negotiations to lease a portion of the park to KU for the project, illustrated above.

Kansas University Athletic officials hope to build a $6 million boathouse for the KU rowing team at Burcham Park. Lawrence city commissioners on July 17 approved moving ahead on negotiations to lease a portion of the park to KU for the project, illustrated above.

Related document

Propose KU boathouse plans ( .PDF )

Hear KU rowing coach Rob Catloth talk about the sport of rowing.

Hear KU rowing coach Rob Catloth talk about the sport of rowing.

Commissioners approve KU's proposed boathouse

City leaders okay a major construction project in a northern Lawrence park. Enlarge video

City commissioners Tuesday evening jumped at a chance to make Lawrence look more like its moniker of River City.

Commissioners unanimously told staff members to move ahead on negotiations that would allow Kansas University to build a $6 million boathouse for the KU rowing team at Burcham Park along the Kansas River.

"This is something that could truly anchor the riverfront as we look to the future," City Commissioner Mike Amyx said.

The project would be funded entirely by KU. University leaders had promised the KU women's rowing 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 of the park near Second and Indiana streets. "The biggest way to improve safety is to just get positive activity in the park."

No one from the public came to the meeting to oppose the project. Some users of the park on Tuesday, however, cautioned the city to be mindful of not allowing the building to change the park's natural setting.

"I want them to remember that a park is a park," said Scott Frazier, a Lawrence resident who rode his bike to the park Tuesday to watch the river. "It should be green space."

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.

The building also is being designed to withstand flooding. The bottom floor - with 16-foot ceilings - would be for boat storage and would be constructed so that water could safely flow through during flooding events.

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 also may be open to the public at times. Catloth said he would like to explore a partnership with the city's Parks and Recreation Department to create a community rowing program.

"It would offer us a chance to do sports camps and community learn-to-row classes," Catloth said. "Right now we don't have that opportunity because there's really no facilities."

Commissioners approved moving ahead on negotiations to lease a portion of the park to KU for the project. 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.

Commissioners approved Tuesday night's item on a 4-0 vote. Commissioner Mike Dever was unable to attend the meeting.

Comments

Joe Hyde 7 years, 5 months ago

I don't get it: How can a boathouse -- a boathouse! -- cost 6 million dollars? From the artist's depiction the structure doesn't look particularly large. An investigation is justified, I think, as a means of learning where, and to whom, this much money is going.

I'm all for self-propelled boating on the Kansas River. But six million? Construction by Haliburton perhaps, compliments of a no-bid state contract?

Tychoman 7 years, 5 months ago

$6 MILLION?! Seriously? I'm for a boathouse, but $6 MILLION?

Christian Hinton 7 years, 5 months ago

At least they won't be raising the mill levy to pay for it.

Paul Soyland 7 years, 5 months ago

I think the 6 million included scenery and wildlife fund.

Bubbles 7 years, 5 months ago

"Some users of the park on Tuesday, however, cautioned the city to be mindful of not allowing the building to change the park's natural setting."

What natural setting? Grass planted by man on one of the most polluted rivers in the country?

RepresentLtown 7 years, 5 months ago

I remember when Lew Perkins had the basketball players on Wescoe Beach telling people to vote for the fee increase w/o actually telling them what they were voting 'yes' for. I also remember when it was only going to be a safter place to store the boats. I don't think $6 million is needed to accomplish that goal. Especially when most of the women's row team is recruited for the sake of filling a scholarship thanks to title 9. If you don't believe me, go up to Wescoe sometime when the team is sitting at a table offering scholarships to anyone who joins.

Eric Beightel 7 years, 5 months ago

RepresentLtown - get a clue. Title IX bashing is sooo 5 years ago.

Way to go Lawrence Commission for approving this and paving the way for the KU Rowing team to finally compete with facilities comparable to other Big XII schools. True committment to athletic excellence takes money and the sooner people understand that, the better off everyone will be. These girls work their butts off to represent the university with athletic and academic prowess and the least that can be done for them is to provide them with adequate facilities.

Good luck Rob. I hope you are able to use this to your advantage in recruiting.

Rock Chalk!

kshiker 7 years, 5 months ago

Ebbenji --

Maybe I missed something, but why does women's crew need 72 scholarships? Since Title IX has been consistenyl misconstrued by the courts as requiring universities to provide men's and women's sports with an equal number of scholarships not opportunities, the university has been continually forced to continue to subsidize this sport while cutting opportunities for other intercollegiate sports (Men's soccer, tennis and swimming).

I knew quite a few of the women's crew athletes in college. While great people, they were not exactly exceptional athletes who deserved a full-ride athletic scholarship at a Division I University. For the most part, Title IX encourages universities to promote activities like women's crew by recruiting basically any warm body that will come out for the team and allow them to fill a spot in the scholarship quota.

However, if the City of Lawrence and the university can get something useful out of this by landing a few regattas each year, then it won't be as wasteful as it could be. At any rate, at least its not wasting city or county's tax dollars.

RepresentLtown 7 years, 5 months ago

kshiker, I couldn't agree more. Unfortunately, it IS wasting my 'education' money.

rockchalkjayhawk 7 years, 5 months ago

They only have 20 scholarships they have 72 girls on the team. Perhaps you should know what you are talking about before you speak

radrhett 7 years, 5 months ago

kshiker - Unless I'm mistaken, there are only 20 scholarships available with 72 total members on the team. And I'm pretty sure that over the years, the quality of men's football at KU hasn't always justified the 85 scholarships they receive, especially when including the academic portion of student-athlete. I don't think Title IX is the perfect solution, but at the risk of over-generalizing, I'm guessing those rowers use their scholarships to get a degree.

kshiker 7 years, 5 months ago

Thanks for the enlightenment. Why do they need 52 extra participants if they only have 20 scholarships? Do you have enough boats for all these people? Perhaps they could build a $3 million facility and cut the numbers by about half.

kshiker 7 years, 5 months ago

Radrhett --

How much money does the football program bring in annually for the university? When was the last time you saw 40,000 fans lining the banks of the river to watch women's crew? Title IX creates an artificial demand for women's sports that justifies having 72 participants in a sport that probably only needs no more than 20 to 30 participants.

Why couldn't we reallocate some of the money used for these 40 to 50 extra participants for other uses like need-based scholarships? The last time I checked, the education received by all students at KU was subsidized by proceeds from KU football and basketball, not women's crew.

radrhett 7 years, 5 months ago

I'm going to go out on a limb here and say that they probably don't have enough boats for all of them at the same time. But they could probably take turns? I don't know what effect the team size would have on the cost of the boat house - I'm guessing not much. I think it's the "state-of-the-art" part that has the bigger effect on the price tag. I'd be curious as to what that entails exactly.

radrhett 7 years, 5 months ago

I'm not a defender of Title IX by any means and it would be great if all sports could be adequately represented. There weren't 40,000 people lining the stands to watch men's soccer, either. Using that logic, we'd only have men's basketball and football at KU. I doubt the money that goes towards the walk-ons on the women's crew team would fund too many need based scholarships. And since those ladies pay their own tuition, I'm not sure why you keep focusing on that point?

kshiker 7 years, 5 months ago

"I'm going to go out on a limb here and say that they probably don't have enough boats for all of them at the same time. But they could probably take turns?"

Well that's certainly not very efficient. I really don't care too much though. $6 million is just chump change when you are talking about intercollegiate athletic facilities. I just think its funny to hear the Title IX defenders spring into action.

In my time at KU I played with a lot of very talented and smart student athletes on an athletic team as well . . . in intramurals. It was around $17 million or so to construct the new student recreation center. Pretty much the same thing probably! I just don't think the majority of women on that team are proper college athletes; they are essentially glorified intramural participants.

radrhett 7 years, 5 months ago

$6 million dollars is chump change in modern intercollegiate athletics and, whether or not you agree with the validity of women's teams notwithstanding, the big players in the Big XII like Texas, Nebraska, A&M, and OU all have top notch facilities for all of their sports. KU has been spending a lot of money in recent years on bringing the basketball, football, and baseball facilities up to at least a competitive level with the rest of the conference. It's nice to see that they are willing to spend some money on upgrading the rest of their athletics department as well. As far as the "proper college athletes" comment - I don't know how good the scholarship portion of the crew team is. The rest of the team probably contributes as much to their team as the 30+ members of the football team that suits up for home games and will never see a snap on game day.

Charles L Bloss Jr 7 years, 5 months ago

A six million dollar boathouse, no wonder the governments all say they are broke. Thank You, Lynn

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