Archive for Monday, June 28, 2010

City has concerns on new fields at LHS

The new football stadium at Lawrence High School is undergoing construction to finish the athletic complex, but a new city inspection questions if the construction matches the plans the city approved.

The new football stadium at Lawrence High School is undergoing construction to finish the athletic complex, but a new city inspection questions if the construction matches the plans the city approved.

June 28, 2010


Construction at Lawrence High could be stalled after inspection

An inspection brought up issues with the additions to the stadium. Enlarge video

City officials have a list of questions they want the Lawrence school district to address as it finishes construction on the athletic complex at Lawrence High School.

The concerns range from landscaping and drainage to issues with lighting and noise related to the project, which has already been through a lawsuit settlement with neighboring property owners.

“Honestly, it’s time to get this all resolved,” City Commissioner Aron Cromwell said.

The district has allocated more than $15 million for improvements to athletic facilities at both Free State and Lawrence high schools. Construction is nearly finished, but city staff members say a recent inspection at the LHS site raised questions about whether the construction matches the plan the city approved in 2008.

Frank Harwood, school district chief operations officer, said the questions were to be expected on a large project that is not yet finished. He said most of the issues should become resolved in recent weeks as contractors work to finish grading areas, pour more sidewalks and complete other work such as landscaping.

Staff members for both sides plan to meet this week.

“We’ll talk about why we did some things differently than what was planned two years ago because some of the things just make more sense to do that way,” Harwood said.

Scott McCullough, director of the city’s planning and development services office, said the city is also checking whether the lights on the fields are in compliance. It could result in the school district meeting with the city commission about an amendment, McCullough said.

Harwood said he did not believe there were problems with how the school district used the facilities.

“I know there have been questions about it, but as far as I know everything is being used correctly,” he said.


cato_the_elder 7 years ago

Why hasn't construction on the press box started yet?

jmadison 7 years ago

?15 million. These projects were sold to the electorate as $2.4 million each. Time to raise the property tax levies to fund this spending.

Keith 7 years ago

“We’ll talk about why we did some things differently than what was planned two years ago because some of the things just make more sense to do that way,” Harwood said.

The main reason they'll give is that they know the commission is spineless because developers get away with this bait and switch all the time, so the school district knew they were just fine doing what they wanted, not what the plan called for.

jafs 7 years ago


If the plans were not going to be followed, any changes should have been submitted for review before being implemented.

ralphralph 6 years, 11 months ago

Bait and switch, for sure.

"some of the things just make more sense to do that way" Did they start making sense AFTER the plan was developed and approved? How, then, did they get approved? Oh, they didn't? Then do it over, for free, as approved.

Beauty of the low bidder.

grimpeur 7 years ago

jmadison gets the cigar.

Couple more questions:

1 ) Could this money, which (stadium supporters remind us) was not available for salaries, etc., have been used for capital improvements other than stadia?

2) Who could have predicted the current need for capital improvements (other than stadia) throughout the district? (Answer: almost everybody who is paying attention.)

3) When's the next vote on capital improvement bonds? (Follow-up: who in their right mind would vote yes after this debacle?)

LadyJ 7 years ago

This comes at a time when the city wants the school district to donate land they paid $1.7 million for to their wellness center plan. Do you really think they are going to give the school district a hard time just when they want something from them? I think residents around the stadium should keep a close eye on this.

melott 7 years ago

The residents are keeping a close eye. So far we have a mosquito infested swamp lights on all the time after hours by unscheduled users * ditto noise

No evidence of any intent from the school system to fix anything.

sciencegeek 7 years ago

Here's a news flash for area residents: one thing that you shouldn't have to deal with is irritating light. There are plenty of light fixtures available that don't cause light trespass (putting light where it isn't needed or wanted). It's called full-cutoff lighting, and it's been used successfully in sports fields around the world. It's also more efficient to run, since it requires less electricity for better illumination. But, it requires consideration for citizens, rather than contractors and power companies.

Hold LHS accountable on this one, folks.

overthemoon 7 years ago

I think this is now required by city ordinance. At least it is most places. A light cut-off diagram should be required for permitting and planning.

sherlock 7 years ago

anyone else note that most everything lately that the board has wanted to promote, money wise, they seem to still have funds left over from the 2005 school bond? Believe they must have spent it more than 3X now! First for the "savings" from South Jr. High, and put into the athletic field, and lately more they found for the press box and concession/rest rooms at LHS. Say, they must have a good interest bearing account some place that none of us have found yet! Or is it a money tree? Why was it left over anyway? Thought was earmarked for improvments of elementary schools plus the blding of South? Could they have intentionally saved back some and not used it where the bond that passed stated it was for?
Does anyone else think there could be a slight of hand?

headdoctor 7 years ago

Priceless. The construction has been going on how long, and now the City wants answers to questions. The City wonders why people get cranky with them. You would think that most people owning a house where a high school has been for decades would have noticed it there and realized there could be some disruptions that go along with it.

You would think the City would learn it does no good to close the gate after the cattle are already out. Since it seems that it is never to late maybe the City should start answering questions about things like the new Walmart and other questionable developments.

puddleglum 7 years ago

yeah, here's the conversation about wal-mart: city commissioners: 'why did we get let wal-mart get past us?" city commissioners: 'because Doug told us to.'

irvan moore 7 years ago

My favorite part is since the lights don't appear to be in compliance they want to change the agreement instead of changing the lights to be in compliance. PLEASE city commisioners, for once stand up and do what's right for a neighborhood instead of bowing down to the school board. If we have no money how can we afford to keep the lights on all the time?

LadyJ 7 years ago

By making the elementary schools cut their electical usage.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 7 years ago

I think they are operating under the maxim that it's easier to ask for forgiveness than permission.

overthemoon 7 years ago

It's been noted that Art Students at Lawrence High have received literally millions of dollars in college scholarships due to the excellent efforts of both past and current outstanding art teachers. Art alumni have many many very successful artists among their numbers and the program has positively touched the lives of students who took a class or two just for the experience.

The art rooms are slightly better than the boiler rooms, located in a sub basement with no natural light, cramped and crowded with ancient equipment and a severely limited budget for supplies. But the football fields get millions to build a problematic facility. You'd think that during the past renovations, yearly budgeting and spending of outrageous amount of money on sports that one of the most successful programs in the school would get a bit of money for improvements and needed supplies. Nope.

ralphralph 6 years, 11 months ago

Frat boys like football, not art. Any other questions?

mom_of_three 7 years ago

And what if some of those "brawn-minded" children just happen to be on the honor roll, and like to have a broad experience in high school - geez, a little snotty aren't we?

femmefatale 7 years ago

lay offs and school closings were the first thing that came to my mind. Not to mention the music and art programs, to name a few.

kernal 7 years ago

The last time LJW had a story related to this, I posed the question of who the developers were behind this project. I smelled a rat then and now. Found it interesting that the project was initiated at the beginning of the real estate crash and figured someone was trying to save his business and came up with this project, then enlisted his friends.

JustNoticed 7 years ago

I feel your pain, Mach. But it's always been like this in Lawrence with developers doing what they want and getting permission later. The only thing that changes is which neighborhood is the victim du jour. Those residents get excited, get politicized, maybe ameliorate a few of the more egregious assaults by the development but generally get shafted. They drop out of the political process when it's all over, disillusioned and sickened by having learned that greed rules. Then it starts all over somewhere else in town.

Boston_Corbett 7 years ago

And I have some suggestions for the friggin city:

1) Fix. The. Roads.

2) New recreation center? See #1

3) Wellness center? See #1

FanceeNancee 7 years ago

Hope no one has to drive to the Wellness Center since the roads in town are falling apart...oh wait, they will run a T shuttle or just tout the area as a walking plaza...if they need land, they have a Farmland site now...ramble ramble

svenway_park 7 years ago

Will there be any licensed but non-degreed pretend architects attending?

kernal 7 years ago

Or will they bother to read the issue, understand it, then vote on it?

lmb 7 years ago

"City has concerns on new fields at LHS"

Were the commissioners standing ON the field when they expressed said concerns? Or are their concerns ABOUT the new fields?

kujayhawk 7 years ago

They have concerns on the field or about the field? My biggest concern about the field is Lawrence High's record at home.

KawHawk 7 years ago

Another lame J-W article with sloppy reporting. What ARE the questions, exactly ? Specifics, people, not another puff-piece that talks around the issue.

whyeyeoughtta 7 years ago

Poor sheeple, always getting bullied by the big guys...

Plenty of people seem to see the deception right in front of them, but few are willing to actually stick their necks out to ever do anything about it. I advocate for revolt on a group level, and monkey wrenching on a individual level. I jump right to these courses of action as an answer, because being polite and civil, and trying to accomplish things through the "proper channels" does not seem to work for the little guys. Time for some civil disobedience.

irvan moore 7 years ago

Earth to city commission, we have had concerns about the new fields for quite a while now.

Richard Heckler 7 years ago

What landscaping? Does this mean MORE tax dollars will be spent?

Drainage problems? Does this mean MORE tax dollars will be spent?

How much over budget is this project? Taxpayers deserve to see some numbers!!!

It is far more fiscally responsible to stick with the plans.

This is absolute nonsense - "“We’ll talk about why we did some things differently than what was planned two years ago because some of the things just make more sense to do that way,” Harwood said"

How is it a school district can ignore the taxpayers when funding multi millon dollar projects? Heads should roll long before an election.

Which USD 497 officials were making the decisons? They know when they are violating site plans. This matter has been loaded with reckless decisions from day one!

Taxpayers need to raise hell with the city and USD 497!!!

The violations and and the cost of new ideas needs to be discussed publicly NOT in some office behind closed doors.

sherlock 7 years ago

merrill ---what plans? What engineer? was there one? after all its only money.

CHEEZIT 7 years ago

Just came back from playing ball in Edwardsville, Il. Population about 35,000. Really nice complex with Football, baseball, soccer, and even a wrestling center! Very nice stadium style baseball field. Nice large parking with arched entry boosting the local team. High school right across the street right in the middle of town. Nuf said!

jafs 6 years, 11 months ago

How well are the schools there educating children? After all, that's the primary point of education, isn't it?

melott 6 years, 12 months ago

We need to raise taxes so they can put in restrooms, a press box, and a drainage ditch to take away the water.

ralphralph 6 years, 11 months ago

Raise ticket prices. Time for user fees.

KawHawk 6 years, 12 months ago

We need to raise taxes so the high schools can have a JumboTron screen for a scoreboard....and a sports media person at each school to provide content for it....and what about the corporate suites so the Lawrence-upper-crust can watch the boys play football ?

C'mon, USD 497, get busy on those Jumbotrons and corporate skyboxes at the high schools! Whatsa matter wit you ?

Flap Doodle 6 years, 12 months ago

What a waste of 1s and 0s to post Informer's tripe......

Flap Doodle 6 years, 12 months ago

Relax and have a popsicle, informer. It's a (redacted) and (redacted) treat on a summer day.

Flap Doodle 6 years, 12 months ago

"...Gentle Readers..."? That's a line He Who Must Not Be Named used to use. Be (redacted) now.

Flap Doodle 6 years, 12 months ago

It appears informer has received a disappeareded card and has been sent off the pitch. woof

Jay Keffer 6 years, 12 months ago

The city should do a walk-about and look at the water the school fields funnel into the homes to the west. Something that was never going to be an 'issue'. Standing water in back yards, water in basements, ruined sheetrock, insulation, etc. Doesn't matter if the project is 'finished' or not, not supposed to happen, period.

Not talking about that concrete igloo to the southeast - that spud needs to fix his own issues and lack of maintenance (yard, retaining walls and on and on) before flapping his yap.

jafs 6 years, 12 months ago

If that's really true, then I imagine there may be some lawsuits - wouldn't you think?

Jay Keffer 6 years, 12 months ago

Takes money to file. Not a constant occurance, but worse than it was before the construction. Should have been addressed in planning first.

Take_a_letter_Maria 6 years, 12 months ago

"but worse than it was before the construction."

Of course the fact that we've had above average precipitation this year has nothing at all to do with these problems being worse.

Robert Tryanski 6 years, 12 months ago

Not true Maria. Check your facts. You're starting to sound like a school official.

PRECIPITATION TOTALS FOR LAWRENCE MUNICIPAL AIRPORT (JUNE 30) June to date: 5.57" Normal June to date: 5.64" 2010 to date: 18.30" Normal year to date: 19.66"

Kash_Encarri 6 years, 12 months ago

Yes, because there is no possible way that it rained more on the southern half of town than it did in North Lawrence.

Last week it rained at my son's place out by Prairie Park, a good 1/4 inch, and I didn't even have a drop at my place by Deerfield.

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