Archive for Friday, May 28, 2010

Downtown Lawrence leaders looking to bring outdoor skating to Lawrence during part of the winter

Kansas University graduate student and St. Louis native Louis Garavaglia practices ice hockey Friday, January 8, 2010, in the improvised skating rink at Watson Park.

Kansas University graduate student and St. Louis native Louis Garavaglia practices ice hockey Friday, January 8, 2010, in the improvised skating rink at Watson Park.

May 28, 2010


Strap on the skates and shop.

Downtown Lawrence Inc. leaders are working on an idea to add an outdoor, temporary ice skating rink to downtown in hopes of attracting more holiday shoppers.

Ice skating rink a possible addition downtown next winter

Some downtown business owners hope a rink, which would be west of Massachusetts Street on Eighth, would increase holiday shopping traffic. Enlarge video

“We think it could be a great way to get people downtown,” said Jane Pennington, executive director of Downtown Lawrence Inc. “It could occupy the kids while parents are shopping, and it would just be a lot of fun for the community.”

The rink would be open from early December to early January, and likely would be located on a half-block portion of Eighth Street just west of Massachusetts Street.

But it is not smooth sliding for the project just yet. Operating costs for a rink would run about $100,000, although admission charges would offset some of the cost. But still, Downtown Lawrence’s idea of finding funding at City Hall will be tough.

“It is a good idea, but bad timing,” said City Commissioner Lance Johnson, who has advocated for more downtown attractions. “This year or next year probably isn’t the time to do it. It gets down to wants versus needs. That sounds kind of like a scrooge but that’s the reality now.”

Pennington said DLI will continue to pursue the project by seeking private donations.

“It is vitally important for us to come up with creative ideas for downtown,” Pennington said. “We have competition all around us. We have to do everything we can to set ourselves apart from the competition.”

Pennington has been discussing the rink proposal with a Texas-based company that specializes in renting and installing portable ice-making equipment. Downtown Lawrence would also offer ice skate rental at the rink.

Stillwater, Okla., created a holiday rink last year. It charged a $7 entrance fee and attracted 11,000 skaters in its first season, Pennington said.


JonKU 7 years ago

Great story. Photo cutline seems a little outdated, though.

Tammy Copp-Barta 7 years ago

So they are thinking about taking away the FREE skating that everyone can enjoy - regardless of income to charging about $7 a person to skate?!?!? Seems silly for no more people than we normally see out there skating ... more wasted money that could be put to use somewhere else ..

Maddy Griffin 7 years ago

Agreed. Use the "free" ice skating like it's always been and build a new roller skating rink for the kids to use year-round.

kansanbygrace 7 years ago

Every northern town and New England town has dozens of rinks every winter, just like we've had in the park for years. Flood the low ground with water, let it freeze. Takes no $100,000 worth of anything, just $15 worth of water.

weeslicket 7 years ago

true in northern states where normal seasonal temperatures would keep the ice frozen. not so in kansas, where ice one day is icemelt the next.

John Hamm 7 years ago

Okay, let's think about this a minute..... Oh, yes. You're going to go downtown in the winter then while you shop turn your children loose at an ice skating rink. How much security is this gonna require? Who's gonna pay the insurance premiums? Who's gonna get hit with the million $ lawsuits?

John Hamm 7 years ago

On second thought I may have commented hastily. After all, I'm sure there are any number of enterprising individuals and companies just waiting to chomp at this bit - so to speak. Why doesn't the city commission just issue a statement that they will approve the first plan submitted which doesn't require any city expenditures? Seems fair doesn't it? Downtown wants a skating rink. They think it's a "paying" proposition. Someone should want to make a profit from it. There we go - everybody wins. Yea, right.

Randall Barnes 7 years ago

they already flood the area by the train in the park it's free or build something a block away and charge. hmmmmm how stupid can the downtown association be ? oh wait compton would get his cut.

muddfoot55 7 years ago

Ohhh...K....let's add to an already overloaded parking situation downtown. Here is another example of drop off services for mom's that don't want to take the kids shopping. This is a product of the "I WANT IT NOW ' generation. Oh my...somebody might not get to skate when they want to because we are having a mild winter. We USED TO have 2 roller rinks here, minature golf and drive in movies....and where are they now???? Just another bunch of law suits waiting to happen if you ask me...whiney Susie skinned her knee cause your ice was too frozen. Might as well hand you a retainer when you walk in the door!

Maddy Griffin 7 years ago

Puhleez, those things disappeared to accomodate the grown-ups.In their place, we have a Wal-mart, Kohl's, and Douglas county State bank. What have we given back to the children?

Haiku_Cuckoo 7 years ago

This is a great idea. The free frozen pond approach only nets about four actual days of skating due to inconsistent temperatures. It melts shortly after people get a chance to start skating on it. Bringing in equipment to provide a frozen surface for weeks at a time makes it a lot more fun for everyone.

Stephen Roberts 7 years ago

Haiku_Cuckoo - Even though it might be a good idea, is it economically feasible? I would guess that if the people in Lawrence wanted an ice rink so bad, soemone would have built one. Why does the city have to pay for everything? To me, too many people here are wanting services from the city.

Richard Heckler 7 years ago

We're being baited again.

They want to blow more tax dollars! "In hopes of bringing in holiday shoppers" is absolute nonsense.

hawkman8950 7 years ago

I'll go to Topeka or KC area to skate

onrywmn 7 years ago

Is this really necessary?????

BruceWayne 7 years ago

really want to draw more shoppers downtown? really? BAN Panhandling.

50YearResident 7 years ago

Ice skating and shopping are like oil and water, they don't mix. If you think parents are going to leave their kids ice skating while they go for a liesurely shopping experiance then you have been smoking the wrong stuff. There are multiple reasons why this isn't going to happen. Safety of the kids, possible injury to young skaters, transcient intervention, cost of the tickets, parking, bad weather weather, cold temperatures. This is actually a very bad idea and will not generate one dime's worth of profit for downtown Lawrence. Ice skating is a thing of the past, let it rest in peace. Would I leave a young child unattended at an outdoor skating rink near downtown Lawrence while I went shopping, absolutely not!

Clevercowgirl 7 years ago

If you want to bring in more downtown holiday shoppers, why not offer free childcare for a couple of hours. Parents could sign up and shop downtown. All we would need is a breathalizer test before we release the tots to the parents. Oh, wait a minute, the parents could leave the kids at the proposed skating rink and do the same thing. Hmmm, the downtown merchants had better have a large liability policy. And really, who is going to leave their kids someplace like that, unsupervised, and go shopping. DUH.

Richard Heckler 7 years ago

Want to bring more shoppers downtown?

Bring in Lands End and bring Old Navy to downtown.

AND get both aisles of congress to realize that due to their negligence 15 million people are out of work. Yep the Reagan/Bush global economy sucked and is sucking all of the good paying blue and white collar USA jobs out of the country. The governments of China and India are having a grand time with OUR jobs. This is dumb economics for the USA..

Dumb economics requires OUR government to provide jobs to replace the ones the USA government tax incentives support abroad.

This ice rink should be in the middle of downtown. 9th and Mass Street.

What makes anyone think the temporary ice rink would pay for itself and the equipment?

John Hamm 7 years ago

This goes back a lot further than NAFTA. In the 70s American auto companies & unions were warning us that foreign competition was going to hurt - badly - and result in the loss of American jobs. The history was there already - the Japanese targeted industries (motorcycle, electronics, household appliances, etc.) undercut ALL competition and took over those industries but Americans (cheapskates we are) continued to purchase foreign products at alarming rates - today's economy (or lack thereof) is the result of decades of poor purchasing habits by American consumers. "It shakes your hand as it takes your place" The Pacific Age, OMD

Richard Heckler 7 years ago

"Lawrence has the best preserved and most vibrant original-site downtowns in Kansas . As such it is both a major attraction to out-of-town visitors and an asset that improves the Lawrence quality of life. That's not an accident, according to geographer Shawna Wright Brinson. Her 2005 KU Masters Thesis says it happened because downtown merchants were unified and had clear visions and engaged in many struggles over many decades to make it happen. (Other KU scholars have made similar points.)

Those struggles were partly about local public policy and pitted downtowners against other business people who had competing visions for Lawrence. Success in those struggles often depended on making alliances with other Lawrence residents.

Downtown merchants weren't always unified, and they didn't always make the best choices, and they didn't win every battle, but they were unified enough and farsighted enough and successful enough to create the downtown we enjoy today. "

Lawrence has one of the best preserved and most vibrant original-site downtowns NOT ONLY in Kansas but in the country. Why put it out of business???

nut_case 7 years ago

Why not just make all of downtown one of those 'special tax districts'? I'm sure everyone wouldn't mind to pay 2% extra and fight traffic / parking just for the privilege.

Richard Heckler 7 years ago

It would be nice if down town problems were as simple as panhandlers. Face it while they might be annoying the larger facts are being ignored. Filling up downtown with more alcohol establishments will certainly not alleviate a panhandler situation. Nor will it be family friendly.

A few years of asking city commissions to perform a Cost of Community Services study fell on deaf ears. The reason concerned citizens were requesting such is because such would have provided data on which growth is paying back and which is not. After which our community could have developed direction and still could for that matter.

Developer and friends are now wanting to convince all taxpayers that downtown Lawrence is done. Because keeping downtown alive has never been in their back door plans nor the Chambers I would speculate.

Remember this nonsense has taken place under the guidance of our Chamber of Commerce/real estate community which have run city government for at least two decades.

So if the Lawrence economy is screwed history can easily document who has led the charge for the greater part of the last 25 years.

LadyJ 7 years ago

Ice surface has to be maintained, are they planning to buying a Zamboni too? The free rink doesn't work for this reason. People will not stay off of it till it freezes properly leaving it choppy and hard to skate on and increases the risk of falling. The bad ice results in having to have your blades sharpened, is there anyone here that can do that? Are they supplying the skates, how many parents will buy skates. Worse yet, they'll buy some from Sears which have no ankle support. Get a couple of hockey kids in there and it's not safe for kids just learning to skate. Like the pool, there has to be monitors. If a child gets hurt and nobody has a clue who they are or where the parents are, how are parents notified to ok medical treatment. Thus an ambulance will be called and the parents stuck with the bill for an injury that normally wouldn't require an ambulance. The daycare is a much better idea, the kids would be safer.

Richard Heckler 7 years ago

How many other ways can DLI attract more shoppers instead of waiting around until Christmas? Why use Big 12 as a measuring device? Maybe broadening our horizons could help.

Arts and cultural districts are an increasingly popular economic development tool for local governments across the country. When theatres, performing arts centers, museums, art galleries, and artist studios are encouraged to locate in the same neighborhood, the neighborhood becomes a magnet for the general public.

Restaurants, gift shops, and art supply stores soon follow. Commercial enterprises, such as graphic design studios, advertising agencies, and architectural firms are attracted to such areas. When localities can achieve a critical mass of arts-related activities in a single area, these neighborhoods are appealing to what is often called the creative class of workers, many of whom prefer to live in and at least in close proximity to the arts and cultural districts.

Follow The Money

Tammie Bryant 7 years ago

I don't think it is a bad idea. I am glad people are thinking about ways to attract people down town. I am not sure if Ice Skating is the answer, although I certainly would give it a try. I have never ice skated before. I would like to see more activities downtown during the holidays and other times of the year. A scavenger hunt would be fun, similar to the one KLWN and 1059.9 did years ago. Do they still sell the gift certificates for downtown? That could be the reward for participating in the scavenger hunt. A free $5 gift certificate, but the winner would get something more substantial. If the businesses gave shoppers a $5 off coupon for repeat visits that could lead to more shoppers. What if during December the vendors offered holiday themed refreshments on the street corners? I would love to see more of a holiday appearance downtown. Maybe Santa could be downtown, has that ever happened? I know he comes down Weaver's but after that is he ever down there? How about reduce priced gift certificates for kids to shop for their parents downtown through parks and rec.

I love the holidays and I would love to have a place in Lawrence that had a Holiday village type feel to it. I think there are a lot of ways to attract consumers to the downtown area. A lot of people voiced their opinions about what not to do, but I didn't hear a lot about what we should do. Let's stop complaining and start brainstorming.

Richard Heckler 7 years ago

How about if the city tries to put some new life into downtown? Such as celebrate the change in seasons with appropriate landscaping. Have downtown Lawrence become known for its' horticultural wonders that might attract visitors. It happpens in some communities when azaleas decide to bloom. Lordy do the visitors love it. Azalea festivals are everywhere.

Evergreens evergreens evergreens. Spring blooms,summer blooms,fall/winter colors

Celebrate spring and spring blooms with a sidewalk sale event in April. Celebrate fall with yet another sidewalk sale. Do sidewalk sales during these periods in order to miss school breaks/vacation times.

Let's make millions from existing resources. Lawrence must do something to make up the loss that is suffered by home games being played in KCMO and school breaks.

Bike competition is doing its ’job… hats off. Did not need new roads for that.

Let's have a full blown carnival at least twice a year. After all with home games being outsourced here's an opportunity to make some revenue loss.

Let's reorganize a little = make it crazier and even more fun when schools are in session thus more buyers/participants.

Block off Mass between 7th and 9th. Leaving numbered streets open.

Have musicians play from 11 AM til ?

Invite local nurseries, local farmers and artists to set up in the street.

Bring on the local food and brew vendors as well!

Try to schedule these events on game days = more hectic,more fun for fans and more revenue for Lawrence

Why spring and fall? KU and public school is in session = more people available locally and from surrounding communities ( folks are back from vacations).

Have items inside the stores marked down some as well. Make the whole sidewalk sale visit worth while and even more fun.

50YearResident 7 years ago

Here is some ideas, ice skating Jan & Feb. Block of Mass between 7th & 8th for June & July mud wrestling and mud volleyball. We could haul in fresh clean mud from the Kaw river. I bet we could even get some bikini girls to play. Badmitten and table tennis April and May. Hopscotch and jacks in March. August & September, Circus with lions and elephants plus all the street entertainment from the local homeless center. October, fishing on the Kaw dam. November and December we could recycle all the snow shoveled from the sidewalks and streets and have a Ski Jump and ski boarding from 6th st to 10th street. Boy, I am really getting into this attracting people to downtown Lawrence for entertaining and (Uh Oh Yea) shopping.

Meatwad 7 years ago

Anything that brings more people, but less beggars harassing everyone for money, to downtown is wonderful!! I hope this happens, I'll get out my ice skates for sure!

Clevercowgirl 7 years ago

Oh, and while we are into original thinking, how about having a horse-drawn holiday parade, a festival of trees, and how about a gingerbread house display? Of course if we didn't advertise these events outside of Lawrence, It wouldn't do any good. Hey, let's forget the ice rink, and just properly promote what we currently do in the Topeka and K.C. papers. It should be about $90,000.00 less expensive. How about it, DLI? Or, promote a free holiday film festival at Liberty Hall? Again, advertise in Topeka and K.C., and I'll bet that there would be lots more folks milling around downtown.

BigPrune 7 years ago

Is this a lead in for a 2% sales tax increase for downtown shoppers so downtown won't have to suckle from the local taxpayers by other means?

audibleangel 7 years ago

typical of lawrence, come up with some dumb a idea to spend money it obviously cannot afford in pathetic attempt to make money.

neo_star 7 years ago

duh! Just hand out the $100,000 in small bills to the people shopping downtown; that would attract a crowd!

Bladerunner 7 years ago

Here ice skate and freeze your manaski's off while Mom and I shop for eccentric gifts downtown. We know you wont require any adult supervision...Just like Wednesdays aka shoplifting day when all the kids get out of school early and have no supervision. Wanna skate and shop? Go to crown center.

headdoctor 7 years ago

Downtown Lawrence, inc. is the modern incarnation of the BID otherwise known as the DL of yesteryear, that tried to strong arm the downtown businesses and co-mingled money to the point that even they couldn't explain it to the Courts. The City has also let them stick their hands into the coffers a few times along the way. I am sure there are business members but honestly I don't see how they have existed this long. In my mind they are just graft and serve no real purpose. The one person they hired to run the show that was actually trying to accomplish something and reach out to the non members didn't seem to last to long in that position.

independant1 7 years ago

since politics has been thrown in, let's make it a free for all.

cheaper alternative, holiday creche would be cheaper. Invite religioius groups to make and manage holiday scene complete with local folks and animals - the city civic groups like Chamber could do the more secular winter wonderland decorations.

Jennifer Dropkin 7 years ago

If the city, Downtown Lawrence, and the Chamber of Commerce are serious about getting more shoppers downtown during winter, they'll make sure that the snow is cleared off downtown streets when it snows, instead of leaving it first unplowed, like they did during the days after Christmas last year, and then leaving the snow piled up on the street. They'll make sure that the streets and sidewalks are cleared as the snow falls, not after the snow stops and has been trampled, partially melted, and refrozen into uneven, slippery, and hard-to-walk-on globs. An accessible and usable downtown might actually result in more shopping and more sales tax collection.

Or they can continue to propose money-draining ideas like turning a public street into a skating rink just a few blocks from Watson Park.

Tammy Copp-Barta 6 years, 12 months ago

And WHAT shopping .. are there even stores to SHOP at downtown anymore??? Just sayin' ....

jessanddaron 6 years, 12 months ago

Everyone here is complaining about panhandling? I've lived here for two years and frequently go to downtown establishments and I could say honestly until very recently, I've never been asked for money. Why don't you go somewhere with a real panhandling problem and see what that is like before you condemn the homeless in downtown. I can deal with one every two years as opposed to three every traffic light, like where I'm from. I think you guys need to get off your high horse and realize there are bigger problems. Like the people who actually have money in this town, downtown, etc. And are ruining it faster than the small amount of homeless people I see downtown could.

Richard Heckler 6 years, 12 months ago

How about if the focus were to get more shoppers downtown all of the time instead of just at Christmas?

Some folks may be more easily offended by street people than others. However we've not been bothered much by panhandlers.

There is a ton of foot traffic in downtown Lawrence! How can Downtown Lawrence Inc increase their sales?

I say allow Mass Street to be closed off from time to time for a variety of celebrations. This brings more potential business directly to the store fronts. Yes MORE PEPOPLE could = more business.

Having events on 8th street,Vermont or New Hampshire will not put people on Mass Street shopping. Mass Street is where the opportunities lie.

Celebrate spring colors with a sidewalk sale event in April. Celebrate fall colors with yet another sidewalk sale. Do sidewalk sales when people are still around not on school breaks and vacations.

Let's make millions from existing resources.

Lawrence must do something to make up the loss that is suffered by home games being played in KCMO.

Bike competition is doing its ’job… hats off. Did not need new roads for that.

Let's have a full blown carnival at least twice a year. After all with home games being outsourced here's an opportunity to make some revenue loss.

Let's reorganize a little = make it crazier and even more fun when schools are in session thus more buyers/participants and MORE potential out of town vistors.

Block off Mass between 7th and 9th. Leaving numbered streets open.

Have musicians play from 11 AM til ?

Invite local nurseries, local farmers and artists to set up in the street.

Bring on the local food and brew vendors as well!

Try to schedule these events on game days = more hectic,more fun for fans and more revenue for Lawrence

Why spring and fall? KU and public school is in session = more people available locally and from surrounding communities ( folks are back from vacations).

Richard Heckler 6 years, 12 months ago

The ice skating would be fun don't get me wrong.

I don't believe it will be big shopping booster. Blow off that angle and just say city hall wants to have an ice skating rink in the park.

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