Archive for Monday, November 24, 2008

Judge lifts restraining order, allows LHS construction to go forward

A bulldozer operator for Cutting Edge Excavating of Louisburg moves dirt at the old football practice field on the west side of Lawrence High School on Monday. A judge lifted a temporary restraining order that had hampered the school district's ability to construct new sports facilities at the school.

A bulldozer operator for Cutting Edge Excavating of Louisburg moves dirt at the old football practice field on the west side of Lawrence High School on Monday. A judge lifted a temporary restraining order that had hampered the school district's ability to construct new sports facilities at the school.

November 24, 2008, 10:15 a.m. Updated November 24, 2008, 5:20 p.m.

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Judge lifts restraining order, allows LHS construction to go forward

A judge says construction of new sports facilities at Lawrence High School can move forward. Enlarge video

Lawrence High School football player Taylor Coleman was pretty encouraged to see construction crews working Monday afternoon on the site that’s supposed to become the school’s new football field.

He looks at the site frequently with big dreams of playing at a brand new stadium during his senior year next year.

“I’m hoping for a big stadium with lights and a nice field,” said Coleman.

A judge paved the way Monday morning for major construction to move forward on the new football field and other sports facilities at Lawrence High School, despite a lawsuit filed by a group of neighbors who oppose the project. Douglas County District Judge Michael Malone lifted a temporary restraining order and denied the plaintiffs’ request for a temporary injunction.

“We have flexibility now,” Lawrence Public Schools superintendent Randy Weseman said in an interview after the ruling.

But the ruling doesn’t mean lights and bleachers will go up right away, he said. “We’re still participating in a lawsuit,” Weseman said.

The request for a temporary injunction came as part of a civil lawsuit that was filed earlier this month by Centennial Neighborhood Association and several neighbors to prevent the school district from moving forward with the project at LHS, 1901 La.

Neighbors claim their property values would decline and their property would be adversely impacted by the project, which also calls for adding eight tennis courts and baseball, softball and soccer fields at the high school, or the nearby Lawrence Virtual School site, 2145 La., previously Centennial Elementary School.

An attorney for the school district, Brad Finkeldei, has said that the neighbors are speculating and that damages could be awarded later if the facilities actually caused problems. The football field would be built within 75 feet of residential property, a court document said.

No trial date has been set.

Ron Schneider, an attorney for the neighbors, said he wasn’t discouraged by Malone’s ruling against the injunction and that his group will be proceeding with litigation.

Meanwhile, the school district will proceed with installing turf at the sites but will wait until the lawsuit is settled before turning the fields into competition sites — which includes adding lights and bleachers.

“We’ll start to proceed through this, with at the same time being respectful of the legal proceedings that are occurring,” Weseman said.

Similar field improvements also are in the works at Free State High School, 4700 Overland Drive, but are not included as part of the lawsuit.

Weseman said with the lawsuit and with the weather turning colder, the district has to continuously manipulate the order in which the projects will be completed.

The superintendent said he’s optimistic all the projects, budgeted to cost between $8 million and $10 million, will be complete by mid-August, with the football and baseball fields finished by mid-February.

“I’m really confident that we’ll prevail at the end,” Weseman said of the lawsuit.

As for Coleman, he’s remaining hopeful he’ll be part of the first football team to compete at the school’s new stadium.

“I just wait to see,” he said.

Comments

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 6 years, 6 months ago

In other words, although the plaintiffs may have a basis for their case, construction will be allowed to go ahead so as to make the whole issue moot. The People Who Really Matter have already decided.

jayhawk166 6 years, 6 months ago

Why does the neighborhood care anyway. Its not like there wasnt already a small stadium there in the first place. Its not like the band hasnt practiced for years with houses on two sides of their field. Its not like football, soccer, and track havent been practicing there for years. All The stadium means is that six times a year the football stadium will have lights on, six times the soccer lights will be on and ten to fifteen times the baseball lights will be on. Besides you havent been complaining about the tennis courts lights being on and they get turned on just about every night. SO GET OVER IT. and even if the value of the property goes down then you not only get a tax break but you will probably get a refund from the city when you sell your house anyway.

Shelley Bock 6 years, 6 months ago

The decision is based on the law, not on influence or bias. The neighbors had to show that the actions were unreasonable and unlawful. The Court was required to presume that actions were lawful absent evidence to the contrary. Judge Malone indicates that he reviewed all documentation submitted and found that the plaintiffs failed to show a "substantial likelihood of ultimately prevailing on the merits". That doesn't mean that they won't be able to show that in more litigation. They just haven't been able to show "substantial likelihood".The district could ultimately be found as having "taken" some of the property value of the plaintiffs, but that is the subject of more litigation. (It's not over until it's over.) Building will go on. That may not satisfy the property owners who were more interested in stopping the project rather than being compensated for proveable loss.

The_riot_is 6 years, 6 months ago

I've read somewhere in previous comments here that the school is actually in the wrong place.I think a little bird keeps squaking about that.

John Hamm 6 years, 6 months ago

Hey! LJ-W youse folks need to use more than a spellchecker.I'd suggest a semantics checker."Schools to begin major the expansion, including adding"

jasb71 6 years, 6 months ago

This is great my kids will really benefit from this!!! Great news!!!

kujhawkfan 6 years, 6 months ago

Oh no, there might be more traffic and noise around a high school that has been there for what over 50 years? Did you people really think that when you live by a 6A high school there wouldn't be some type of expansion some day or maybe they would build their own facilities rather than spend your tax dollars every year renting Haskell Stadium? What other 6A school district rents a football field from a university for this many years? This should have been done 50 years ago!

stuckinthemiddle 6 years, 6 months ago

a waste of millions of dollars...and I'm guessing that some of people who think this is good or great are some of the same ones who keep complaining about their taxes being so high...

BigPrune 6 years, 6 months ago

They should've used the money to build bigger parking lots. My kids go to a newer school and the teachers park in the fire lane! Why wasn't/isn't planning enforcing the parking code?So basically this ruling says build it, it will remain there forever and then sue in the future if it creates a burden on you. Of course, nobody ever wins when they sue the government.

Confrontation 6 years, 6 months ago

Get a job, Waka1. No one cares about the homeless in Lawrence because of lazy bums like you.

Fort_Aubrey 6 years, 6 months ago

Kinda funny that Merrill, who always screams "no sprawl, no sprawl, no sprawl" wants improved athletic fields to be "sprawl, sprawl, sprawl"

mom_of_three 6 years, 6 months ago

no, i don't think merrill supported this project....

webmocker 6 years, 6 months ago

Previous poster says"All The stadium means is that six times a year the football stadium will have lights on, six times the soccer lights will be on and ten to fifteen times the baseball lights will be on."If the facilities are built, I strongly suspect that the lights will go on for practices, too.

mom_of_three 6 years, 6 months ago

No, lights will probably not be on for practices. Don't know too many teams that have evening practices.

Shelley Bock 6 years, 6 months ago

I suspect that any of the soccer teams will have practice over by 5:00 PM. It could go longer if space becomes an issue. I don't believe that either baseball or softball practice much beyond that time. I'm not certain how long football practices.As to lighted nights, there are 5 regular season football games, 7 to 9 regular season soccer games, 8 to 12 baseball and softball games. Many of the baseball and softball games are doubleheaders so actual dates maybe between 4 - 12.I suspect that because there is athletic turf on the baseball and softball fields, boys soccer will be using the outfields of both for practice. The same could happen to football.In the spring, girls soccer could use their field and the football field for practice.

penguin 6 years, 6 months ago

Just look at the league that LHS competes in and you will see the need to upgrade facilities. Most other 6As in the league have huge sports complexes that would be much more expensive than what is being done now. In addition, the need for equal facilities can be a silly issue, but many in their league have protested over the past few years over the conditions at Haskell. The field needs upgrades. So why not upgrade your facilities instead of paying for upgrades at a facility you do not own? So unless people want to pay for an ODAC or a CBAC...at least let the kids at LHS get an upgrade on what is already next to their campus.

truman 6 years, 6 months ago

Glad to read the Judge Malone ruled in favor of the stadium. If you don't want to deal with the traffic/noise that goes on because you live by a school, then why did you move there to begin with ? LHS has been there since the 1950's. Please tell me how many of the people who live around the school have been there that long. ( or were there first).. Probably only a handful..... They are the only ones who should complain.

George_Braziller 6 years, 6 months ago

You must be new to town. Ten years ago that property was a beautiful welll maintained two story farm house with a barn, out buildings and huge trees. It was also a great buffer for the noise and lights of 23rd Street but it's now all gone. What will be going in is a horror that would make me want to move.I know people who lived in the neighborhood who have been there for 30 years or more. I guess you think that they're just stupid because they "moved" there.beobachter (Anonymous) says… Think the school was there before these people moved in. Reminds of where I used to live. County built new airport outside of town in agricultural area. Then developers moved in, built housing all around. People moved in and promptly started suing for quiet.

Danimal 6 years, 6 months ago

Saying that anyone is stupid for living next to a school is the most ignorant thing that I've read today. Just because you live next to a school doesn't mean that you should be receptive of to that school shoe-horning an imposing athletics facility into your neighborhood at some time in the future. Further, anyone that compares this project with the facilities in JoCo or Topeka isn't terribly bright. Those districts all have consolidated facilities to reduce expenses, eliminate redundancies and increase efficiency. This whole thing is a huge wasteful blunder on the part of Lawrence that I, for one, don't want to pay for.

Shelley Bock 6 years, 6 months ago

Danimal...It would be nice if there was a centralized location for stadiums. Olathe has it because the land for ODAC was donated. The infrastructure build up was made possible by the industrial base surrounding that area. Shawnee Mission has remodeled football fields at North and South that have been around since 1966. The SM District owned the land for their soccer complex since before 1968 when I played club soccer there. The Blue Valley's have tremendous facilities, but they purchased enough land surrounding the schools to build all of their stadiums years ago. Hummer in Topeka was built on available land.Where would the Lawrence buy land? Where would there be 60 - 100 acres available that would have infrastructure? The only place I could think of would be the East Lawrence industrial park. That could have worked, but at what cost. Would the fields be ready by next year?What isn't know is why this big push? Both athletic directors filed affidavits in the public record that indicate a change had to occur immediately. Starting last summer, the Sunflower League was ready to exclude, expell Leavenworth, Lawrence and Free State from the league and replace them with the Blue Valley schools. Why? It is specifically stated that football at Haskell stadium and soccer at YSI was considered unsafe. Had there not been a plan to improve the fields, all Lawrence teams would have been kicked out of the Sunflower League. Expulsion temporarily died with the promise of new and improved fields.Is that what the Haskell Stadium supporters wanted? And, at Haskell, it wasn't just the field, but the structure, the steps, the lack of restrooms, the parking situation and the lack of concession area. A quick fix to the field would have helped, but not saved a place in the Sunflower League.This proposal is a necessity, not a luxury. If the fields/stadiums weren't made safe immediately and the schools kicked out of the league, who would have come to play here on a field(s) deemed unsafe and dangerous? Not a single school.

Terry Jacobsen 6 years, 6 months ago

Danimal wrote: This whole thing is a huge wasteful blunder on the part of Lawrence that I, for one, don't want to pay for.If you were up to speed on the situation you would know that these facilities are already paid for. They are being funded by left over funds from the previous school bond issue. So really you aren't being asked to pay for anything.

jafs 6 years, 6 months ago

Some of the funding will come from "left over" money from the bond issue - these funds were not intended for this use. I'd call that fraudulent, raising money for specific purposes and then spending it on other items.Also, the final expense of these fields will go way beyond that "left over" money, and it's not in fact clear how funding will be arranged.

barney681 6 years, 6 months ago

"He looks at the site frequently with big dreams of playing at a brand new stadium during his senior year next year."Isn't that sweet. And this is what....news? This is the "objectivity" that we get from a newpaper that supported a presidential candidate overwhelmingly rejected by the rest of the country.

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