Archive for Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Redundant fields

December 9, 2008


To the editor:

There is still time for members of the public to let the school board know that their current plans for upgrading athletic facilities are redundant, wasteful and unacceptable. Throughout this process, school officials have repeatedly told taxpayers that their plans were designed to save money. Unfortunately, their plan to save money is almost as innovative as the financial practices of America’s auto executives.

In presentations before planning commissioners, city commissioners and members of the public, the school district’s chief operations officer pointed out that the district currently spends $80,000 each year to play football games at Haskell and to transport athletes to and from the games. Who could argue with the desire to reduce that figure in these challenging financial times?

How does the school board plan to respond to this challenge? Build two redundant football stadiums at a cost to taxpayers of more than $4.4 million. How do they plan to finance this? Take out a loan and pay it back over 10 years. What’s the bottom line for taxpayers? We will now spend more than $440,000 each year, for the next 10 years, to play football in two redundant football stadiums, six nights a year.

Why can’t we update both practice fields, but only build one stadium? Neither school currently has a stadium on site. The school board has not yet purchased the equipment or materials to build the two football stadiums. Contact them now and tell them that it’s time for plan B.

Bob Tryanski,


Shelley Bock 8 years, 1 month ago

I have consistently supported this plan as a modest and long overdue response to a glaring need of inadequate athletic facilities for not only football, but soccer, baseball, softball and tennis. Modest in that it is not the type of grandiose stadiums and sports complexes that exists at the Shawnee Mission, Olathe District Complexes, Blue Valley or Hummer Park in Topeka. In reality, the designs for our school are bare bones.Why is there one at each school? Because, usage at each school demands such. For instance, there are three football, three soccer squads and a marching band that play and practice each fall. All will need to use the fields on campus. I suspect that football and soccer will use the other’s field when unoccupied. Football and soccer can also use the baseball and softball outfields for practice. In the spring, girls soccer will be using the football stadium. Redundant? No, that’s not the case. In the Shawnee Mission and Olathe Districts, there are two athletic turf football fields, so they must play football on other than Friday night. Soccer is better off since there are five competitive fields, one for each school. In Olathe, there are 2 football stadiums and 4 soccer stadiums for 4 schools.Is this keeping up with Johnson County? First, that's who the competition is. Each of the football stadiums in Johnson County is better than most NAIA college stadiums. Lawrence plans are far more modest. Well what about soccer? Not only do these schools have fantastic stadiums for soccer but Overland Park is building a 12 athletic turf field soccer complex complete with lights for youth (and probably older player) competition. Douglas County will not have anything approaching this. In your cost analysis, you only included costs for football and compared that to the entire project cost. LHS has had to rent fields for baseball, softball and soccer. For years, this district has neglected athletic facilities. LHS baseball, softball and soccer have never had homes on campus. And, Haskell hasn’t been appreciably improved in over 80 years.

Shelley Bock 8 years, 1 month ago

Having a district complex would be nice. But, where would it go? Thinking about YSI to the southwest of the city? No way! KDOT won’t allow any additional access to the complex without costly (meaning 10’s of millions) improvement. Besides, the land is leased by the Corps of Engineers. So where does it go? Where would there be 60 - 100 acres that are relatively level and with infrastructure in place? Have you thought of this cost in your calculations? Could this complex have been completed this year? Impossible!This project had to be done quickly. Lawrence and Free State were on the verge of being excluded from the Sunflower League because of inadequate, albeit unsafe facilities. This plan thwarts that effort. Why worry about the Sunflower League? Because, there wouldn’t be any other competition. Other school would shun playing here because they wouldn’t want to defend their decision to play on unsafe fields when there was an injury.This project was the only action that could have been quickly taken. A more valid question is why hadn’t these facilities been built before now?

mom_of_three 8 years, 1 month ago

Hepburn makes an excellent point. The $440,000 for ten years includes all of the improvements made - softball field, baseball field, soccer field, new tennis courts, and the football stadium. There is jv football and sophomore football, I think, which would play there, but they don't have night games. Felt kind of bad for those kids who were playing on the football practice field instead of a real football field.

SMe 8 years, 1 month ago

Throwing good money after bad for that's the Lawrence way

BigAl 8 years, 1 month ago

Hepburn is 100% right on. It is way past time to build these facilities. This should have been done years ago.

jafs 8 years, 1 month ago

Everyone for this project must be a dumb jock.

Clickker 8 years, 1 month ago

"Throwing good money after bad for that's the Lawrence way""Everyone against this project must have been weak asthmatic chess team members and/or have children without athletic ability"“Everyone for this project must be a dumb jock.”These kind of comments really get us no where. Hepburn makes great points, and I will add my usual 'safety of the kids travelling 4.5 miles each way to practice' as a great reason to bring us up to the 21st century.

d_prowess 8 years, 1 month ago

I don't live in the CNA area and don't have a kid at LHS or FSHS, so I don't really have a dog in this fight (I guess it is my taxes though). But for whatever it's worth, it seems laughable to have two huge high schools share athletic fields. I am all for this project. There is a sense of ownership and pride that will probably develop at each school over their home fields. And not just by the athletes, the student body (and eventually the community) will probably share in it as fans too.

Shelley Bock 8 years, 1 month ago

Ariadne:"why do we have only one high school swimming facility?"Well, because we don't. Each school has access to a natorium on site for classes and for competitive swimming.As to driver's education, this funding goes to facilities and not classroom activities. Two different funds are involved.My kids used the private system for driver's education. And, they didn't hope to get a prized spot in the classes which can't possibly fill demand. Private classes were at more reasonable times and cost wasn't exhorbitant.

Shelley Bock 8 years, 1 month ago

Ariadne:" about answering why the school board feels that they don't need to meet the city development code for Special Use Permit parking & traffic requirements? elaborate please on why they feel free to 'opt-out' on the code?" A. It was defined as a usage which required the parking space as described and a variance was sought by proponents. It was reviewed by the Planning Staff, Planning Commission and City Commission and survived any super majority required. The standard for review by the Court is "was their decision making arbitrary and capricious.""...please answer why as attorney Ron Schneider mentioned - he endorsed the 2005 school bond issue but also is not happy that those bond funds are now being used for other purposes."A. I have known Schneider for nearly two decades. We have often agreed and disagreed about many things over that time. Never have we thrown invectives at each other, nor will we. He has an opinion that I will respect; I have an opinion that I believe is correct. So be it."elaborate your answer of why our elected officials, both school board & city commission can 'opt-out' on code & specific financing requirements - keeping in mind that the judge hearing the case may go by the 'letter of the law'."A. A variance was sought and approved by the appropriate entities. Judges may agree or disagree with me. That is a fact of life. I obviously care passionately about this construction project. On the other hand, I don't have your passion because you are so close to the issue that you have to, must believe in the correctness of your cause. I accept that fevor, but I don't accept the rancor against and for the project.I have come to realize the fact that those "ney-sayers", won't accept critical comments about their position. You stated that there was only one swimming pool on campus. But, LHS has Knox Natatorium and Free State has the Lawrence Aquatic Center. That makes two. Never an acknowldegement of error. Doing so, makes your other comments more humble and believable.I have come to the conclusion that you are not willing to see the merit of the "for construction" position. I guess that's OK. I also don't believe that you are on as firm legal ground as you believe. I don't like the "holier-than-thou" belief in the merits of your legal argument or the way that it is presented here. As I've said before, those that know that they will succeed, often fail in court.Guess we'll all find out someday.

Flap Doodle 8 years, 1 month ago

Somebody should relax and get a popsicle. It's a cool and fruity treat.

Richard Heckler 8 years, 1 month ago

What about this expense that is being ignored? is $440,000 a year better than $80,000 a year?This is a high $14,000,000 dollar plan with a $45,000,000 sports complex on the table. What about operating expenses? is all of this being worked into the tax bills?

citizen_kane 8 years, 1 month ago

Just to clarify mom of three:There seems to be some confusion. The $4.4 million is the cost of the two football stadiums only.The full plan will cost $1 million per year for the next 10 years.

citizen_kane 8 years, 1 month ago

and that's after they spend the "left over" bond money.

TacoBob 8 years, 1 month ago

Cool thought he made a mistake once, but he was wrong.It's hard to be humble when your're as good as he is.

Shelley Bock 8 years, 1 month ago

Ariadne, my error in misinterpreting the cost. I thank you for correcting my misunderstanding what was being discussed.

Zype 8 years, 1 month ago

It's too bad that athletics are almost the only things that ever get updated or get new equipment.

CNA_Resident 8 years, 1 month ago

Just so everyone knows - there will be a public meeting of the Centennial Neighborhood Association ~tonight~ (Wednesday) in the Lawrence High School Library at 6:45 p.m. We hope a lot of folks show up to this meeting.Our questions aren't over the issue, but with the process.1. Why weren't all Centennial Neighborhood residents given the opportunity to vote on this issue ~before~ the CNA Steering Committee took action on behalf of the entire neighborhood? There wasn't even a quorum, let alone a majority of votes by the households described in the lawsuit.2. Why were there no printed, distributed flyers or newsletters in the months and/or weeks leading up to the decision to involve the Association in a lawsuit explaining what the issues were, and what the CNA was being asked to do?3. Was there a conflict of interest in having a CNA steering committee member attend whatever discussions were held about this issue … and did she benefit directly from having the Association declare itself a litigant?4. Who authorized the spending of Association dues - dues that have been collected ostensibly for many years, and for the specific use of printing costs - to allocate to a lawsuit??5. Why were meetings held in the last few months of the CNA Steering Committee - with caveats to keep these meetings from being publicized?6. Why did the Lawrence Association of Neighborhoods indicate they were not made aware that the Centennial Neighborhood Association was going to ~be~ a litigant in this lawsuit?These and more questions should be posed tonight to this committee. Please consider attending the meeting, regardless of whatever view you may have of the manner in which the CNA has behaved regarding due process.

CNA_Resident 8 years, 1 month ago

Once again, Ariadne, you speak of that which you know not.The Centennial Neighborhood Association applied for membership (and recognition) to the Lawrence Association of Neighborhoods shortly after it was formed. It has been sending a representative from its neighborhood to LAN meetings for as long as the CNA has existed. The CNA is not a completely independent organization, and has not ~ever~ claimed it was, particularly when it wanted something from the LAN and/or the city.You and others in this endeavor to pursue legal remedy keep attempting to divorce yourselves from the history and content of the Centennial Neighborhood Association's participation in past public affairs. And I intend to just as diligently continue pointing out that the very process you accuse the city and the school district of ignoring is the exact. same. problem. I and others have with the CNA Steering Committee.

mom_of_three 8 years, 1 month ago

Anyone know how to block someone from sending you messages that you don't want or need?

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