The asphalt is still sticky, the concrete is still wet and the orange cones are still abundant. But Lawrence City Hall is already planning for its next round of construction projects.
City commissioners at their weekly meeting approved a series of resolutions that will allow the city to secure about $18 million worth of financing this fall to fund projects that range from street repairs to improvements at the city’s skateboard park.
“We think the timing for this is good,” City Manager David Corliss said.
Despite the recent downgrade of the U.S. credit rating, Corliss said rates in the bond market continue to go down. A majority of the $18 million in debt will involve refinancing projects that already have been approved.
But commissioners also set the wheels in motion for several new projects. They include:
• $150,000 for the city to contribute toward an $8 million state project to replace the 23rd Street bridge near Haskell Indian Nations University. The city’s contribution will go toward upgraded street lighting, ornamental railings and upgraded concrete approaches for the bridge. Work on that project is expected to begin in the spring and last into the fall.
• $1 million to repave Sixth Street from Iowa Street to Monterey Way. The state also will contribute about $200,000 to the project. Work will begin next summer.
• $1 million to rebuild Wakarusa Drive immediately north and south of the intersection with Bob Billings Parkway. The project will include completely tearing out the old portions of the road. Work could begin as early as Spring 2012.
• $1 million for various city maintenance projects. Those include: concrete and slide repairs to the Outdoor Aquatic Center; repairs to the skateboard park at Centennial Park; rehabilitation of the basketball, tennis and skate park surfaces at Deerfield Park; repairs to the Riverfront and New Hampshire parking garages, and roof and brick repairs to City Hall. Many of those projects could begin later this year, Corliss said.
City commissioners also gave approval to issue debt for a $200,000 public parking lot that would serve a private development project near Eighth and Delaware streets. The project, as proposed by a Kansas City-area developer, would renovate the old, multistory Poehler building into affordable apartments. Next week, the city is expected to consider issuing debt for $750,000 to rebuild Delaware Street from Eighth to Ninth streets.
Commissioners approved the debt paperwork related to the Poehler project on a 4-0 vote. Mayor Aron Cromwell abstained because he said his environmental consulting firm may end up working with the developer on some aspects of the private portion of the project.
Commissioners, however, did not have any discussion about the project. Corliss said he anticipates presenting in the next couple of months a more detailed plan to commissioners about the incentives the city may offer to the Poehler project. That will be after commissioners already have issued debt for the project, but Corliss said even then the city won’t be committed to offer the incentives because the city can always choose not to spend the money and simply pay back the debt.