Archive for Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Ideas for new recreation center in West Lawrence taking shape

Lawrence residents will begin to get an idea of what the proposed west Lawrence recreation center would look like. Plans for the new center are expected to be presented in two weeks.

April 13, 2010


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.


Dayna Lee 8 years ago

I remember when they talked about this back in the 90's. I'll believe it when I see it.

rlauram 8 years ago

"Lots of gym space is possible, the preliminary plans show. " Wow another place for the homeless to stay!

anonyname 8 years ago

Let's offices are government-owned buildings open during the day. Homeless people could be there. Let's close them. The courthouse is a government-owned building open during the day. Homeless people could be there. Let's close it. The indoor aquatic center, the visitor center...close 'em. Hey, come to think of it, grocery stores, Wal-Mart and Target, restaurants - they're all places homeless people could be. Let's close them all! We'll show those homeless people!!!

Back to reality...your statement makes no sense. Honestone below makes a case against the rec center based on financial grounds. There can certainly be a rational debate on the benefits of a rec center vs. the costs. To argue against simply because homeless people may (gasp!) exercise there is ludicrous.

Since you have strong feelings against the homeless, you're doing what you can to help them, right? Donating to work training programs? You could of course offer some lodging; that would help decrease the number of homeless in town.

rlauram 8 years ago

I was being sarcastic. I do not have anything against homeless people. I'm getting tired of the city let's move them here and oh no, let's move them there. I just figured if they build the new recreation center there would be lot's and lot's of space for the homeless to stay at night.

honestone 8 years ago

Didn't I just hear about a city that had no money!!!! Now we will consider a rec center and a library. I told my kids I had no money for food but I really need that new car...

Jeff Cuttell 8 years ago

West Lawrence snobs always get what they want. Just like a spoiled child.

Spoiled Kid--- "Daddy, I want that new Ipod."

Daddy,---"Sure, honey, your brother, East Lawrence, doesn't need schools or places to shop. And while we're at it, let's send a bunch of homeless people over there to hang out and bring down property values."

Spoiled Kid----"Thanks, Daddy! You sure know how to take care of your princess! "

anonyname 8 years ago

I'm sure you're doing what you can to help the homeless just like your friend rlauram above.

beawolf 8 years ago

"Didn't I just hear about a city that had no money!!!!"... Read the friggin article before you post. Here, let me help. "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.

honestone 8 years ago

ALL of the cost??? How about manitaining it???

honestone 8 years ago

You didn't read it...

Parks and Recreation leaders hope to use the concept plans to build support with potential private donors and the general public.

snitty 8 years ago

Nice field! There's plenty of recreation one can do in a field. Leave it alone. We don't need another field-house. This is just a lame excuse to "develop" something to stimulate the economy for developers.

honestone 8 years ago

What is more pathetic... Someone voicing their opinion or someone that b*tches about someone having an opinion?

smercer 8 years ago

The last publicly available information from the Self Assists Foundation shows assets of $567,788 as of 12/31/08. In addition, the foundation has already made committments for other grants and scholarships of considerable sums.

The idea is a good one - a public/private partnership for a rec center. I would support a rec center if it were a 50/50 split between private money and taxpayer funds to support a new rec. center (including ongoing maintence costs). However, until the potholes, curbs, other infrastructure is fixed, I think that a 500k private donation is not sufficient to trigger a considerable taxpayer outlay for a multi-million dollar facility.

Here is a thought: if Assists Foundation wants to support youth sports, they should consider underwriting some recreation fees for youth. For example, it is $110 for 12-14 year old parks and rec baseball (and this is not the premier league with full uniforms). It is $50 for 5& 6 graders to play LPRD basketball and there are only 6 games. Crazy high.

BigPrune 8 years ago

First it was the YMCA a few years back, and now the City of Lawrence wants to get into the game. Why not let private enterprise do it and save the taxpayer some money, plus the City/County will be generating money from the property and sales taxes.

Look at Eagle Bend - a money loser. Look at the M-T - a money loser. Both owned by the City.

Marcus DeMond 8 years ago

West Lawrence needs an outdoor public pool. The one across town has horrible hours for the general public.

honestone 8 years ago

The Indoor Aquatic Center was supposed to be the west side's public pool. Of course if at the same time the city were to fund a Indoor Aquatic Center on the east side you may have a little more support

honestone 8 years ago

This is the same song we heard from the school board...a different pool of money. The last I heard Lawrence was stretched to the limit financially...just like the school board only they did it in the reverse order. They built the multi million dollar stadiums and then told everyone we would have to cut teachers, programs and schools. In this scenerio the city is saying we can't afford anything, will have to not hire certain positions and can only do limited road work but...lets build a west side rec center. I bet Comptom and Fritzel want that property value enhancer but where will they be when it needs maintenance and repair. The color of the money won't matter to the voters when they drive past the rec center complex just like the new stadiums. We just don't have the money Sally.
My household is delaying a lot of wants until the economy recovers.

theryn 8 years ago

This is a suggestion for Mr. Kealing: Could the paper do an article about the various sales taxes and how they may be used. I think it would be timely with the discussion about the new rec center as well as changes in transit services. This comes up every time there is an artical about rec center plans. Personally, I've never understood if the recreation sales tax can be used to maintain existing facilities or can only be used for building new structures as it has in the past.

bruno2 8 years ago

Always, the best goes to the West. Blatant padding for the developers. Build something nice in East Lawrence where it could make a real difference in kids' lives!

banksie 8 years ago

Because a rec center in NW Lawrence won't make a difference in kids' lives? It will be an artificial difference?

Robert Rauktis 8 years ago

Can these kids learn to exercise (play) without a formal program? Or are they too stupid?

KaraGourley 8 years ago

I live in the North/West part of Lawrence and think it'd be a great idea for our kids to have a place to go play and have activities. There is Holcom for the kids out south, East Rec Center and Rec downtown.... There isn't anything like that on the West side of town. They need something. Everything we used to have for kids/teens to do when I was younger are gone.... Putt Putt, Roller Skating Rink. There used to be things the kids could do.... Why complain that the are doing something for the kids...

lawrencechick 8 years ago

East Lawrence has there own private rec center already (and pretty much their own outdoor pool). Stop whining!

honestone 8 years ago

An invitation to Lawrencechick,

Come on down to the private rec center. You can trip over the shelters bums and use the crappy, out-of-date equipment too. This has nothing to do with one side or another simply...we have NO MONEY to fix our roads...WHY would we spend money we don't have for something we would like rather then need. Stop your whining, load the kid in the SUV and come on over to the eastside and enjoy our private gym and have the Indoor Aquatic Center

lawrencechick 8 years ago

honestone - I don't have to pile the kids into the SUV (wait, I don't have one....) because I have spent more than enough time at the East Lawrence rec center since it is the only place that has room to play parks and rec BB. I think it is pretty nice, I don't know what your standards are. But then again I have nothing to compare it too except Holcolm and it is a lot nicer than Holcolm. I personally hate the tired East Lawrence/West Lawrence stereotypes, but since so many people brought it up I felt the need to remind them what they have =)

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