Archive for Monday, October 5, 2009

City staffers want to set priorities for parks and recreation needs

October 5, 2009


Maybe what Lawrence’s parks and recreation system needs most is a new northwest Lawrence recreation center.

Or maybe it is a new multi-gymnasium fieldhouse at Clinton Lake.

Or perhaps it is a new youth baseball and softball complex.

The list could go on and on. But city commissioners on Tuesday are expected to direct staff members to start a formal process for determining what the department’s top facility needs are.

“We understand there are a lot of needs inside the parks and recreation department, but we also realize that the economic times we’re in will really dictate how much we can do,” said Commissioner Mike Amyx. “If we are going to do an expansion, we need to make sure it hits the highest of priorities.”

The city’s parks and recreation staff is seeking approval from commissioners to hold a series of public meetings to hear what area residents believe are some of the more important facility needs. Mark Hecker, assistant director of parks and recreation, said plans call for meetings in late October and early November. Staff members then would prepare a report by the end of the year outlining top priorities.

“What we do know is we’ve been put into a facilities crunch,” Hecker said.

The idea for a community-wide discussion came after City Manager David Corliss recommended the City Commission move ahead with planning for a new recreation center near Wakarusa and Overland drives. Commissioners ultimately did not fund that request, but instead said they wanted a clearer picture of what the public believed were the most pressing parks and recreation needs.

Parks and recreation staff members still believe a recreation center to serve West Lawrence neighborhoods is an important need. But the staff also has come up with several other projects that deserve study, Hecker said. They include:

• An indoor fieldhouse that would house four to six gyms that could be used for soccer, basketball and volleyball. Previously, parks and recreation leaders have said the land the city leases from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers below Clinton Dam could be a site for a fieldhouse, but other locations also may work, Hecker said.

• A “wellness center” that would be designed to appeal to young people who don’t often participate in traditional sports. The center would be a place to educate people about the importance of exercise, Hecker said.

• A new youth baseball and softball complex to meet the growing number of students participating in summer sports.

• Additional neighborhood parks. The department has not completed all the work it has planned for DeVictor Park in West Lawrence, and has not yet begun work on Peterson Park near the Hallmark plant in northern Lawrence or on Green Meadows Park near 31st Street and Kasold Drive.

But Hecker said the department wants to hear ideas for all types of projects.

“We want to have a couple of meetings to just sit and listen to what people are thinking,” Hecker said.

Dates for the meetings are expected to be set soon.

City commissioners meet at 6:35 p.m. Tuesday at City Hall, Sixth and Massachusetts streets.


Steve Jacob 8 years, 6 months ago

"A “wellness center” that would be designed to appeal to young people who don’t often participate in traditional sports. The center would be a place to educate people about the importance of exercise, Hecker said."

Curves for men, basically?

GardenMomma 8 years, 6 months ago

Here's a win-win idea...Parks & Rec can rent the school baseball fields during the summer from the school district.

Here's a few ball fields that could be utilized: Hillcrest Schwegler Woody Park Broken Arrow Sunset Hill - too bad that it's gone now, but maybe they could bring it back?

It would probably cost Parks & Rec far less to rent and maintain those ball fields for youth baseball (I'm thinking t-ball through 3rd grade) and the school district would get a bit of extra income.

Four parks and they could move the youngest players to those small parks and free up what existing (YSI) ball fields they have for the older youths.

vilduhellerblogspotcom 8 years, 6 months ago

an extra rec center would be wonderful. the others are usually full. however great it may be that they are free. the city could do wonders if they charge $1.00 per person. This would allow the funding, perhaps keep from over crowding as a lot of time kids and people just go their to hang out. numerous times people just take up the sides of the gym, obstructing those their for physical fitness, and at the same time a dollar is nothing.

Richard Heckler 8 years, 6 months ago

There are a lot of high dollar ideas with no price tags attached. Lets talk in real terms like how much will these projects cost?

Where's the money? How many millions have been spent at Clinton Lake already?


Should a Westside rec center be approved?

What about all of the unfinished projects?

How much is Parks and Rec spending as we speak?

Richard Heckler 8 years, 6 months ago

Let's spend some of that one cent sales tax on sidewalks and other existing needs instead of making the list longer and more and more expensive.

Richard Heckler 8 years, 6 months ago

Don't forget we taxpayers still must pay for the USD 497 athletic project which is close to $20,000,000(million).

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