Archive for Thursday, December 17, 2009

KU officials face tough questioning from regents over new bus building

KU officials deny an allegation of improper bidding

December 17, 2009


A proposal by Kansas University for a $4.75 million bus maintenance and storage facility received stiff questioning before the Kansas Board of Regents on Thursday, and an allegation of improper bidding surfaced.

KU officials denied there was anything wrong with the bidding process, and in the end, the regents, in a 5-3 vote, approved giving KU authority to enter a contract to build the facility.

The dispute is over a proposal by KU to enter into a contract with Advanco for purchase of property and construction of the facility in Timberedge Industrial Park, which is near the intersection of North Iowa Street and Lakeview Road in northern Lawrence.

Under the proposal, the new facility will be used for both KU and city of Lawrence buses. Theresa Gordzica, chief business and financial planning officer for KU, said negotiations are continuing on the contract, although the price cannot exceed $4.75 million.

But Regent Gary Sherrer said there were too many loose ends on the deal.

“It seems to me we are a month ahead of where we should be,” he said.

For instance, he said, it hasn’t been determined how much the city is going to contribute to the project.

It was revealed during the meeting, that while KU said its current bus facility near 31st Street and Haskell Avenue was inadequate, the school also has been told that its facility does not comply with city codes. Gordzica said this was because the facility is gravel and not paved.

Some regents members said that because KU had identified how it will pay for the project, the city may back off its funding commitment. Gordzica said the facility will be paid out of fund balances and replenished with student parking and transit fees.

But Regent Richard Hedges said he was satisfied the city would not try to take advantage of KU.

“You don’t want to poke the bear on the hill and stiff them,” he said.

The five regents who supported KU’s proposal were Jarold Boettcher, Christine Downey-Schmidt, Dan Lykins, Janie Perkins and Hedges. Opposed were Jill Docking, Donna Shank and Sherrer, who all said they would have rather delayed the action until January’s meeting.

A letter also emerged from another bidder on the facility during the meeting.

In that letter, Stan Zaremba of Zarco Inc. of Lawrence, said that in the requests for proposals on the project, “it was our understanding that a purchase of property for the facility was not financially feasible.”

He said KU also failed to say whether the lowest bidder was chosen.

“We object to the award of this contract as being contrary to Kansas law,” he said in the letter.

But in reply, Gordzica said in a letter to the regents that the requests for bids did include several options, including purchase of the facility.

Gordzica said proper procedures were followed in analyzing the bids of various vendors. And she said state law allowed KU to pick the vendor that best met KU’s needs. In addition to cost, KU considered the location of the site in relation to KU and city transit service areas, and safe access to major streets, she said.


Clint Church 8 years, 4 months ago

Why can't they build it on the land they have off of 15th street?

wastewatcher 8 years, 4 months ago

Once again, the Regents always have money to do what they want to, but never what they should do. I wonder where a multimillion dollar new bus barn would stack up in the priorities of the faculty and students. With all of the whining that has gone on, why was this never mentioned. If someone has any answers, please reply.

mr_right_wing 8 years, 4 months ago

I will give KU on Wheels credit, I see plenty of college students on their buses, so they aren't the complete and utter waste "The T" is.

I sure don't blame the regents, why should KU be getting together with a town that deludes itself that there is actually an additional demand for public transportation beyond what KU on Wheels provides. A town that prides it self on watching empty bus after empty bus go round and round and round......

Look pa! Der go da big empty bus 'gain!

bearded_gnome 8 years, 4 months ago

Why can't they build it on the land they have off of 15th street?

---that's endowment land, and they have the say.

Bob_Keeshan 8 years, 4 months ago

I find it absolutely comical that the LJ World has left this story on its front page now for 24 hours, including bumping it on two separate occasions to the #1 spot on the page. Meanwhile, stories that have actually drawn comments and which actually affect the community have drifted off of the front page entirely.

It is one thing to go out of your way to try and stir the pot when it comes to this town's largest employer, it is another to be so blatantly obvious about such bias.

Sorry, LJ World. Nobody cares about this one. Find another axe to grind.

datgumwillubee 8 years, 4 months ago

Thats just great another property that had a good tax potential goes to the Bear on the hill. That industrial pak was built to bring in businesses,jobs and TAX dollars to help support our comunity.When tax dollars are short and your neghborhood schools are closing its due to these type of discisions.

bechurass 8 years, 4 months ago

Three words- LEASE, LEASE, LEASE! Lawrence needs the tax dollars. The 'BEAR' needs to more a little more gracious when it comes to their home town.

datgumwillubee 8 years, 4 months ago

When the train is going accross lakeview and prevents bus traffic I hope the students arnt late going to class. OH! and isn't the Proposed Berry Plastics 600,000 sq ft wherehouse A block away. I would Like to see that traffic study. Who would pay for the road improvments? KU taxes?LOL Or maybe we loose a 600,000 sq ft wherehouse. BOB it better stay on the front page It will cost Lawrence Hundreds of thousands in tax rev.

BigPrune 8 years, 4 months ago

You're either a no growth hippie or a good ol' boy with the inside the government scoop! Welcome to Lawrence, nothing's changed at all.

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