Archive for Thursday, August 4, 2011

Town Talk: Brick streets to get discussion; popular federal grant program likely done; yoga on the west side

August 4, 2011

Advertisement

Subscribe to the Town Talk email edition

Subscribe to the email edition of Town Talk and we'll deliver you the latest city news and notes every weekday at noon.

News and notes from around town:

Missing and crumbling bricks on Vermont Street between W. 21st and W. 22nd made this section of road one of the five worst streets in Lawrence when the photo was taken in 2008. The designation is based on the city's own pavement condition index. Three of the worst five are brick and one is unpaved section of a dead end street.

Missing and crumbling bricks on Vermont Street between W. 21st and W. 22nd made this section of road one of the five worst streets in Lawrence when the photo was taken in 2008. The designation is based on the city's own pavement condition index. Three of the worst five are brick and one is unpaved section of a dead end street.

• Perhaps it is time for a roadtrip to learn more about some roads. In particular, some East Lawrence residents are suggesting the city study a model used by the city of Holton to rehabilitate brick streets. As we previously reported, the city auditor has recommended that the city develop a policy for brick streets. In other words, do we keep them or do we replace them? Some of the worst rated streets in the city are brick streets that haven’t had any work done to them for decades. (I once noted in an article, you know a street is in bad condition when its maintenance plan includes a Weed Eater.) Well, longtime East Lawrence leader K.T. Walsh came to the City Commission with a plan, or at least a bit of one. She suggests the city study what is going on in Holton, a pretty little town about 30 miles north of Topeka. The community has about seven miles of brick streets, and it has been replacing about two blocks per summer. The way it replaces them comes with a twist, though. The city hires eight youths each summer to clean and lay the bricks. Of course, there are adults working on the project too (there’s usually concrete work that has to be done before the brick-laying) but it looks like the youth are the main force behind the actual brick laying. It looks like it saves on some cost and serves as a good vocational program for some kids. (They ought to hire 11, and then it would serve as a good off-season conditioning program for the football team. Think of the fun. Teach the band how to play Brick House, call the defense The Brick Wall and make the cheerleaders ride around in wheelbarrows after each touchdown. What? That would be fun.) The kids lay about 50 linear feet of bricks per day, according to the city’s website. Their record is 78 feet in one day, although the site notes: “That is when everything is just right, and of course, the kids are motivated. Sometimes that is a full-time job in itself.” What I don’t know about the Holton program is how much it costs. Lawrence’s reluctance with rehabilitating brick streets is the upfront cost. City Manager David Corliss estimates it can be three times more expensive than standard street construction. Fans of brick streets, though, say the maintenance costs for brick streets after they are built are quite a bit less. Corliss has said he wants to study the issue. He had mentioned that perhaps the city could create a system in which it would remove many of its brick streets that run east/west and use those bricks to rehabilitate the brick streets that run north/south. East Lawrence folks may not like that idea. Walsh said instead that the city should investigate finding bricks from other cities. Osawatomie, for example, is currently removing many of its brick streets and replacing them with concrete or asphalt. Bricks and windows usually don’t go well together, but perhaps this is a window of opportunity. (Yeah, that’s a lame ending. But I’m still concentrating on the football thing.)

• One way the city has paid for brick street projects in the past is through a state/federal program called Transportation Enhancement Grants. In addition to brick streets, Lawrence has used the grant to help restore the Union Pacific Depot, build the Burroughs Creek Rail Trail, the Clinton Parkway Shared-Use Path, and other projects. But it looks like that will be the case no more. The state has announced funding concerns, especially at the federal level, means they won’t accept any grant applications for the 2013 and 2014 fiscal years. City Manager David Corliss said he’s not planning for the grant program to return. That may be a blow to the efforts of a group of Lawrence residents to restore the Santa Fe Depot in East Lawrence. A Transportation Enhancement grant was one of the leading candidates to fund the several hundred thousand dollars in repairs needed to the building at Seventh and New Jersey streets.

• Perhaps folks can meditate on how to fund such projects in the future. A new yoga studio has opened on the west side of town. Westside Yoga has set up shop at Bob Billings Parkway and Wakarusa Drive in the same building as Natural Medical Care. Three longtime yoga practitioners — Anne Bruce, Gopi Sandal and Rita Stucky — have teamed up to open the business. The business offers 60- and 90-minute classes during various times of the day. People can walk in or sign up ahead of time at the company’s website. The trio believe the popularity of yoga is picking up steam in Lawrence, and they noticed there weren’t many studios on the west side of town.

“It really helps relieve pain and it frees your mind too,” Bruce said of the various forms of yoga the business teaches. “It has a very calming and centering effect.”

Maybe the company should have started Capitol Hill Yoga. Breathe in Mr. Boehner. Breathe out Mr. Reid. Or how about Statehouse Yoga? Stretch Mr. Brownback. Bhakti, Mr. Davis. Bhakti. I could do this all day (but I don’t think I would get paid for it).

Comments

somebodynew 3 years, 9 months ago

Good information, Again. Thanks, Chad. Might just have to go check out that yoga thing. Never tried it, but have friends that do and they swear by it.

sulliedotcom 3 years, 9 months ago

Paving brick streets would be a huge mistake for the city.

gccs14r 3 years, 9 months ago

I think the saying is, "You can pay me now, or you can pay me later." I think brick ends up being the least expensive option when calculated over a 100-year span. It has the highest up-front cost, which is what people balk at.

Key to longevity of all surfaces is base prep and drainage, something we don't seem to be very good at.

ylime3499 3 years, 9 months ago

I really like these articles. Highlight of my day!

gccs14r 3 years, 9 months ago

Maybe it's time for someone to fire up a paving brick plant. Sell excess capacity to other cities looking to rehab their brick streets, and bring some much-needed outside dollars into the city.

Alceste 3 years, 9 months ago

As I recall it was that scallywag Buford Watson who spearheaded the removal/paving/asphalting over of brick streets in Lawrence. Something about they're hard to snow plow created the "need". It's a trade off kind of thing. That and paying the one company which seems to always get the contracts for streets in Lawrence. It is what it is. shrug

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 3 years, 9 months ago

And paving them over created lots of contracts for the well-connected asphalt and concrete companies.

Alceste 3 years, 9 months ago

Yeah....and for that and a bunch more carpetbagging he got the train park named after him. Go figure. Another fine moment in Lawrence, Kansas history....almost as high up as that Quantril guy.....double-knit suits indeed...

Alceste 3 years, 9 months ago

Quantrill gave what he received from Jayhawkers raiding Missouri...based out of Lawrence and Douglas County. Lawrence tends to forget the havoc them Jayhawkers delivered. Lot of smiting and smoting. Quantrill ain't no saint....but thems was rough times......he only gave what he got.

JayhawkAlum03 3 years, 9 months ago

Hi, Chad -

Noticed that there is some construction work happening (though it mostly looks like parking lot repairs) and a sign by the road in front of the Old Chicago building. Can't remember for sure since I didn't get a great look at it, but think the sign indicated that "Saints" is going into that location. Let us know what you dig up....

Chad Lawhorn 3 years, 9 months ago

Yeah, it is Saints Pub + Patio. They're out of Lenexa I believe. We've mentioned them before, but I've yet to talk to the people in the company yet. I'll do that and provide a report. Thanks, Chad

Gene Wallace 3 years, 9 months ago

Drive up New Jersey between 15th and 9th to see what paving over the bricks and streetcar tracks did. If you can stay over the rails, the washboard from the rotted out ties won't shake your car to bits. T- buses drive down this washboard, both directions, every 40 minutes.

jhawkinsf 3 years, 9 months ago

Working on those brick streets, like cleaning them, or whatever it takes, sounds like a perfect job for some of those sentenced to community service. Cheap labor instead of throwing petty criminals in the hoosegow for the weekend.

sherbert 3 years, 9 months ago

Didn't the city have an agreement with neighbors in Old West Lawrence a few years back where they would provide the bricks etc in return the home owners would help lay the brick? Seems the home owners didn't follow through and the city had to hire it out. Maybe I have it all wrong, but that's what I recall.

Sigmund 3 years, 9 months ago

"The city hires eight youths each summer to clean and lay the bricks. Of course, there are adults working on the project too (there’s usually concrete work that has to be done before the brick-laying) but it looks like the youth are the main force behind the actual brick laying. It looks like it saves on some cost and serves as a good vocational program for some kids."

I think KT Walsh's idea of using child labor is a great one! Hopefully we can pay them minimum wage with no benefits. Maybe we could even use child labor to pick up trash, read water meters, and shovel city sidewalks in the winter as well.

Or in the alternative we could place an additional tax on those who wish their streets to remain brick to cover the costs of an adult labor, at a living wage, with health benefits.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 3 years, 9 months ago

If this wasn't an idea (brick streets, an efficient use of resources) that you see as somehow leftist in nature, you'd be all in favor of however much child labor could be put to use.

MarcoPogo 3 years, 9 months ago

That's why we don't pay them ANYTHING. We'll Oliver Twist their arms and get some work out of the lazy buggers.

cowboy 3 years, 9 months ago

Brick makes lovely patios and terrible streets.

flyin_squirrel 3 years, 9 months ago

I think they should take any college student who gets caught drinking underage, or gets arrested for disturbing the peace, and put them in orange jump suits doing repair/cleaning work like this. If you threw them in jail for the night, then made them do manual labor the entire next day (clean alleys, clean downtown streets, help repair old brick streets), it would be a win/win for the community.

pace 3 years, 9 months ago

they have steadily reduced the staff for community corrections, making that program die from "saving" money. It is a great program with proper supervisors, not so good without staff.

Jean Robart 3 years, 9 months ago

Paving over the brick streets can't be done soon enough

Commenting has been disabled for this item.