City leaders are getting closer to presenting a picture of what a new West Lawrence recreation center and fieldhouse could look like.
Picture six full-size gymnasiums, a quarter-mile walking track, space for advanced gymnastics equipment, plus areas for dance, aerobics, wellness programs and other traditional activities.
Parks and Recreation officials hope to get it all on paper in about two weeks, when Lawrence-based architects with Gould Evans are expected to complete concept plans for the facility.
“We still don’t know whether this will go anywhere, but it has been fun to look at the possibilities,” Ernie Shaw, acting director of Lawrence Parks and Recreation, told the city’s parks and recreation advisory board Tuesday.
The concept plans are designed to show what could be done on a 40-acre, city-owned site at Wakarusa and Overland drives, which is just north of the new Wal-Mart.
Lots of gym space is possible, the preliminary plans show. Shaw said up to six full-court gyms could be built, which would be designed to create 12 playing surfaces for basketball, volleyball and soccer, if used cross court. The walking/jogging track would be an elevated structure built on a mezzanine above the gyms.
Parks and Recreation leaders hope to use the concept plans to build support with potential private donors and the general public. City commissioners are a key group that still must be convinced.
Commissioners have not made a commitment to build a new recreation center, but have given the parks and recreation department the authority to create the concept plans.
Determining a total cost for the facility is among work left to be done before the concept plans are complete. City officials have said a possible funding source is to use money that currently is being used to pay for bonds on the city’s Indoor Aquatic Center. Those bonds should be paid off by 2012.
Funding from private donors — the city has had preliminary conversations with Bill Self’s foundation — likely would be needed to build the facility to its full size.
In other news from the Parks and Recreation Advisory Board heard:
• Work to complete the Burroughs Creek Trail in East Lawrence is moving slow. Mark Hecker, the department’s parks and maintenance superintendent, said wet weather has delayed the project considerably.
The northern portion of the hike and bike trail from 11th to 19th streets could be completed with about two weeks of dry weather. But the southern portion of the trail from 19th to 23rd streets likely won’t be done until July.
Crews will get a helping hand from about 200 area Boys Scouts and Cub Scouts on May 8. The scouts are part of a plan to landscape the entire northern portion of the trail in about three hours. Parks and Recreation employees will lead groups of scouts in planting trees, flowers and shrubs along the trail.
• Efforts to reduce the toxicity level of pesticides and herbicides used by the department are continuing. Hecker said the department no longer is using any Type 1 or 2 herbicides or pesticides, the most toxic under the Environmental Protection Agency’s ranking system. But the department has not found a good substitute for Round-up, an herbicide it still frequently uses to control weeds in parks. The city has increased its mulching and hand-weed pulling to cut down on the chemical usage. Herbicide companies also have begun to roll out new products aimed at appealing to consumers who want less toxic chemicals.