News and notes from around town:
• Sammi’s back. Or, at least, darn close to being back. Sammi Sangam, the man who came up with the idea of Curry in a Hurry — remember the Indian food restaurant in the Shell station on South Mass. — is set to open his new business. As we previously reported, he’s reopening Curry in a Hurry — sans the gasoline — in a Mass. Street storefront across from the Douglas County Courthouse. Sammi told me this morning that the business will open at 1111 Mass. on Wednesday.
But he also threw in a surprise. In addition to having Indian food, the location also will be a mini-convience store. It will have cigarettes, pop, juice, snacks, chips and other items you might have found in his Shell station.
“It will be an all-in-one type of shop,” Sangam said. “We realized that downtown doesn’t have a convenience store. We think it will be convenient for people downtown so they don’t have to go all the way to a gas station.”
But don’t worry, the Indian food is still going to be the main focus, he said. In addition to having all the menu items available at his last location, he’ll add a few more. Among the new items will be samosa — curry that is deep fried or baked in a batter — and masala puri — fluffy type of Indian bread with multiple ingredients baked in. Down the line, he also plans to add chaad, which he said is kind of a unique taco-like creation.
• Users of the trail atop the Kansas River levee in North Lawrence should expect a detour soon. And perhaps a lengthy one. Parks and Recreation leaders have confirmed that as construction work begins on the Bowersock Mills & Power Co.’s new plant on the north bank of the Kansas River, that a portion of the levee trail will be closed. In particular, the part of the trail that goes under the bridge will be blocked off. The area on both sides of the bridge will be quite the construction zone and won’t be safe for the general public to travel through.
So parks and recreation and Bowersock officials are creating a detour for users of the popular trail. Signs will direct users off the trail and over one block to the area in front of the Lawrence Visitors Center (the U.P. Depot). There, trail users can cross busy North Second Street at the traffic light that is in front of Johhny’s. Personally, I would probably just call it a day at that point, and say hello to Rick behind the bar. But for those wanting to continue on, there will be signs that direct through the Johhny’s area and back onto the levee trail.
There hasn’t been a date set for the detour to begin, but it likely will be soon. The power plant project has secured its financing and won its major approvals. There also isn’t a date for the detour to end, but it expect it to be awhile. Parks and rec leaders said they’ve been told the power plant project will take two years to build. I’ve got a call into Bowersock officials. I’ve give you an update when I get one.
• While we are talking about Parks and Recreation, expect to see a few improvements to park facilities this summer. I’ve obtained a copy of the department’s work list. Some of the more interesting projects include: a new roof for the East Lawrence Recreation Center; a new restroom building south of the football fields at the Youth Sports Complex; a rubberized play surface for the playground at Watson Park; and nine new tree grates for downtown.
Even more interesting though, is the list of projects Parks and Recreation leaders would like to do, but know they won’t anytime soon because of funding issues. Items on that list include: $1.3 million for an amphitheater at Sesquicentennial Point; $500,000 for adult soccer fields at Clinton Lake; $500,000 for a baseball stadium for 16- to 19-year-old players, also at Clinton Lake; and $18 million for a new recreation/wellness center for West Lawrence.
The recreation center idea, of course, has come up. City Hall leaders have suggested a piece of city-owned property behind the Wal-Mart at Sixth and Wakarusa. But funding never has materialized. The project has been on the back burner. I think some City Hall types didn’t really want to talk about the issue much during the recent election campaign (that’s why we made sure to ask each commission candidate about their views on future recreation center). But now that the campaign is over, I would expect the topic to come back up in the next few months. I still think the key factor, however, will be whether Bill Self’s foundation is ready to step forward with some funding to help make the project more financially feasible. Supposedly, the coach is interested in the idea.