Archive for Tuesday, October 13, 2009

‘Play’ deficit

It’s good to know that city officials are serious about improving Lawrence’s recreational facilities.

October 13, 2009


It’s good to learn Lawrence city commissioners, city parks and recreation staffers and several citizens continue to work on the development of a major sports and recreation development for the city.

Lawrence is known as a great place to live, work and play, but in recent years it has become increasingly evident the city has fallen behind in the “play” category in its athletic and recreation facilities.

“Wellness” has entered the list of concerns and needs for Lawrence as there is far more knowledge and evidence of the importance of exercise to help in the battle against obesity and to improve the general wellness of a community.

As everyone knows, these are tight economic times, and some have complained about the money spent recently for the new playing fields at Lawrence and Free State high schools. In addition to providing badly needed facilities for football and soccer contests, the new facilities were needed in order for the two high schools to remain in the Sunflower League. Officials at the other conference schools had made it clear the Lawrence schools were likely to be dropped from the conference unless they improved their playing fields.

Now, city officials and others are giving serious thought to a large athletic complex. Costs are high but after much study, various city officials believe now is the time to initiate action.

Two locations appear to be the leading sites for this complex: One is an approximate 40-acre area on the northwest side of Lawrence, north and west of the new Walmart store and Free State High School. The other considerably larger location is east of the Clinton Reservoir Dam, identified on the city of Lawrence Clinton Lake city park map as the location for soccer fields, a football complex, youth ballfields, youth soccer and multi-use practice fields.

Much study is needed to decide which would be the best site for a large, diverse athletics complex with room to grow as use and needs expand. Ample parking and easy access are important as well as the costs of extending water, sewer and power to the area.

In addition to the playing fields, there also is a major need for a large, flexible indoor fieldhouse which could be used for indoor sports, exercise activities, meeting rooms and office space.

Both sites would help relieve the pressures coming from the growing housing and population numbers on the west side of the city, and each has specific advantages.

Forget politics and personal agendas, the final choice should be based on what’s best for the city and its residents today and in the future.

Again, it’s good to know city leaders are serious about taking action to improve the community’s recreation facilities, which today do not meet Lawrence’s needs and demands.


grimpeur 8 years, 8 months ago

Gosh, you know what would have been "best for the city and its residents today and in the future," and what could have ensured a city-wide athletic facilty that served the schools' needs and the city's needs? An inclusive facility that made sure that USD497's huge expenditures addressed the very needs described in this column. Not just football and soccer.

But, no. Seems there just wasn't time, patience, permission, or even the inclination to stop and think about this when we were plunking down the millions.

Hey USD497, how's that tennis court lighting coming along, by the way?

Any new facility near FSHS must share the parking already there. That's 1200 parking spaces at the high school alone. Should be plenty. Make it accessible by bike, foot, and bus. The last thing we need is more lazy car-junkies driving their precious empty toys, alone, to the gym when they should be walking, biking, or at least carpooling.

You want "ample parking" out here? Fine. For every new parking space installed, I propose 100 feet of new multi-use path AND 100 feet of new sidewalk to be constructed somewhere in the city. Ample parking, indeed. It's a problem, not a solution, at a facility like this.

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