Archive for Sunday, August 16, 2009

Woody Park’s supporters plead for new parking lot elsewhere

Increasing patient volume creates ‘severe challenge’ during average weekday

Woody Park, which sits just north of Lawrence Memorial Hospital and has been home to many a neighborhood baseball game, could become a parking lot. That suggestion has raised concerns among members of the Pinckney Neighborhood Association. Among their concerns is the idea that in losing the park, named for Elgin Woody Sr., Lawrence is losing a piece of its history.

Woody Park, which sits just north of Lawrence Memorial Hospital and has been home to many a neighborhood baseball game, could become a parking lot. That suggestion has raised concerns among members of the Pinckney Neighborhood Association. Among their concerns is the idea that in losing the park, named for Elgin Woody Sr., Lawrence is losing a piece of its history.

August 16, 2009


Woody Park's future debated

Lawrence Memorial Hospital is seeking to pave over a city park to build a parking lot for its employees. Enlarge video

Pinckney Neighborhood residents urged Lawrence Memorial Hospital to build up instead of out so as to spare Woody Park.

On Saturday morning, hospital and city officials, neighbors and descendants of Elgin Woody Sr., the park’s namesake, met to discuss LMH’s plans to build a parking lot on the city land.

LMH has proposed using the four-acre site adjacent to its property to ease tight parking conditions. The lot would be used by employees. In return, the hospital would purchase land for another park or enhance an existing one, carrying Woody’s legacy to the new area.

But neighbors and family members said Woody Park holds historic significance and would set a bad precedent of turning green space into pavement.

LMH CEO and President Gene Meyer told a crowd of around 30 that the volume of patients had grown faster than expected, making parking a problem.

Right now the hospital has 900 parking spaces to house the 1,100 cars the hospital sees on a daily basis.

“Every single day, every hour of the day we are not overwhelmed,” Meyer said. “But when we see the bulk of activity that goes on at the hospital on a weekday, during the mid-part of the day there is really a severe challenge.”

Neighbors questioned why the hospital couldn’t build a parking garage or deck on its existing space instead of expanding into Woody Park.

“The only way to resolve this issue is to build up or build down,” said Ken Armitage, who lives in the Pinckney neighborhood.

Building a parking garage would cost around $4 million versus the $600,000 it would cost to use Woody Park, Meyer said.

The park is dedicated to a man who for years maintained the ball diamond and organized minority leagues to play on them. Those in Saturday’s crowd said that in the days of segregation, the park was a place where the black community came to play ball. Teams from all over the state played there. He was Lawrence’s version of Kansas City’s Buck O’Neil, a Negro league baseball player, someone noted.

“We would have big events out there,” Woody’s grandson Greg Francisco said.

However, that was in the field’s heyday. Mark Hecker, Lawrence parks superintendent, acknowledged the field’s use has gone down over the past decade. This year it was used for little more than 100 practices.

The field is too small for adult and teenage teams to play on. It’s best suited for those 10 and under, which would bring a large crowd and create further parking problems, Hecker said.

Francisco said that whatever happens, he would like to see his grandfather’s name continue to be remembered.

“I would love to see it stay there. But I know that there are things that surround (the park) where it is not useable in the capacity that it used to be,” he said.


Keith 6 years, 3 months ago

They'll probably name it Woody Park(ing lot)

KCTech 6 years, 3 months ago

“I would love to see it stay there. But I know that there are things that surround (the park) where it is not useable in the capacity that it used to be,”--Like the trailer court. I used to play ball at Woody park all of the time when I was younger (and skinnier). I wouldn't let my kids play there least not alone, that is. I think that the hospital and the city needs to take a closer look at that trailer court and talk to the owner about it. I know people have to have a place to live, but come on! If you don't know what I am talking about, I invite you to listen to the police scanner on the weekends, and just take a drive through there.


Sunny Parker 6 years, 3 months ago

Keep the park and put some money into it. 100 practices a year is still 100 practices.

Janis Pool 6 years, 3 months ago

The reason they are not using the park for the 10 and under crowd is because of parking. Did I read that right? Oh for heaven sakes! Build a garage. The hospital's needs won't stop now. Think ahead! And let the kids learn history while they play (and maybe make some of their own!)

Tanya Spacek 6 years, 3 months ago

Build up, please. As an employee of the hospital and a resident of the neighborhood (the Maine St. parking lot lights shine right in my bedroom window at night), I'd much prefer a multi-story parking garage to destroying the park where my family plays. Think of future growth and put in more parking spaces now rather than: paving over a park, putting in a limited number of spaces, and then ripping it all up and putting in something else years down the road when even more spaces are needed, which would definitely cost more in the long run.

By the way, you'd be amazed at how many people ask me if I walk to work in the rain or snow. They can't fathom putting up with four minutes of weather to save gas and a parking space for someone else who comes in from out of town. Starting up my car and circling the parking lots would take longer than just walking over, but they still look puzzled and awed. Are we that car dependent?

somebodynew 6 years, 3 months ago

LuckyNun - yes, unfortunately we are. I work out of town so have to drive there, but the parking garage is several blocks from work. You would be surprized to hear the people complain about the walk. Personally, I enjoy it - not so much when the weather is bad - but stuff happens.

GardenMomma 6 years, 3 months ago

Please do not pave over the park! 100 practices a year averages to about one every three days.

Build up! Build up the parking, build up the public's faith in LMH that you want to preserve the history that is part of Lawrence.

George_Braziller 6 years, 3 months ago

LMH just spent how many years and how many tens of millions of dollars on the renovation and they're only now considering where people will park? This issue should have been addressed and budgeted before the renovations even started.

Someone did some really bad planning.

KCTech 6 years, 3 months ago

The hospital just needs to suck it up and purchase the houses to the west of it. They already purchased the land to the east of it, (health center) and the southwest of it (more parking). Most hospitals in the Kansas City and Topeka areas do not have this problem, as they purchased more than enough land before construction even began. Lawrence is a growing community, and the hospital needs to quit taking baby steps and start planning for the future.

It seems like every few years they add a small wing on, or they build another parking lot. I say buy rest of the block to the southwest and the block directly to the west. Then they would have plenty of parking AND they could add on larger wings so they would have plenty of room for quite a few years. The money that they would save doing it in one big chunk, (rather than a lot of smaller ones) could be applied towards the purchase of state of the art equipment and top notch doctors and nurses.


RKLOG 6 years, 3 months ago

Man, save the park already! Hire some of our out-of-work construction folk and make a nice parking garage instead.

Evan Ridenour 6 years, 3 months ago

  1. Yes, it makes perfect sense to pay almost 7 times as much to build a parking garage instead of a lot when the lot is a feasible option. No wonder health care costs so much!

  2. That park would make better use (due to its location and the current state of the surrounding area as a parking lot. The hospital building a park or making an existing one better is a net gain for the green space of the city and as noted above isn't irrationally expensive.

There is one obvious correct choice here...

Cait McKnelly 6 years, 3 months ago

How did a non-profit hospital get to the point of being the meanest corporation in town? This is the same hospital that raised rates 5%, citing inflation as the cause, then turned around and only gave it's employees a 3% raise thus forcing their employees to take what amounted to a pay cut for the "privilege" of working there. I'm sure this is all grounded in the idea that it would be cheaper for LMH to pave over a park than it would be to build a parking garage. It's all about the bottom line.

kansasmutt 6 years, 3 months ago

Man, sure seems to be lots of city and school building going on with code violations in your town. Do the feds know about what is going on in L town ? A D A violations and now a city owned hospital violating codes ? Or is your leadership just stupid to the laws and ways things are done to protect people and leagl actions ? L town is starting to look a bit fishy and smell of , not on the up & up .

justtired 6 years, 3 months ago

I agree that parking is a problem. Why not purchase the house that sits right in the middle of the south lot, and move the teen home somewhere else. That would make more sense than destroying a park.

KCTech 6 years, 3 months ago

Seamus- I do think that people are too lazy to walk, but I also see Arkansas Street every day. Cars are lined up all the way down the West side of the road from Third Street to the trailer court. I feel sorry for the people that live on that street. I have also had doctors appointments at the hospital, and had to drive through multiple lots to find an available slot. Of course, I drive a full size pickup, and the parking spaces are pretty narrow, so I am a little picky;-)

A parking garage would be the best answer, but if they aren't going to spring for one, then I will refer to my previous post and reiterate that they need to purchase the properties to the West. Those poor people can't hardly get in and out of their driveways during the week.


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