Archive for Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Town Talk: Commissioner wants to change name of 11th Street to honor Fambrough; homeless shelter plans to move by early summer; apartment plan creates tension, accusations

December 14, 2011


News and notes from around town:

• Change to the coaching staff may not be the only thing coming to Kansas University’s Memorial Stadium. A new effort is underway to have the portion of 11th Street that runs along the north edge of the stadium named in honor of former KU coach Don Fambrough.

City Commissioner Hugh Carter says that he wants the commission to consider the name change sometime in January. Fambrough, who coached the KU football team during two different stints, died in September. Several community members in past years tried to have a portion of Missouri Street — Fambrough famously hated Missouri — renamed in his honor.

But concern over the number of addresses that would have to be changed on Missouri Street has stopped that proposal from moving forward. Now, the idea is to rename 11th Street between Mississippi Street and West Campus Road. City officials believe there are only a handful of addresses that would need to be changed.

“He got fired twice here, but he still stayed in this community and was a great ambassador for KU and the city,” said Carter.

Carter said the street could take one of several names, such as Fambrough Street, Fambrough Avenue, Fambrough Lane, or Fambrough Drive. (The way the last couple of seasons have gone, any positive drive for the home team would be appreciated.) But Carter said the city should steer clear of Fambrough Way. The university currently is planning to name a stretch of a campus street as Fambrough Way, Carter said.

It will be interesting to see if a street named after Fambrough requires any special traffic ordinances. For example, will it be legal to turn off Fambrough Drive onto adjacent Missouri Street? I can’t think the old coach would like that much. What would be an appropriate fine? Perhaps the driver will be sentenced to serve time as an also-ran football program in the SEC. Oh, wait. It looks like that slot already has been filled.

• Folks interested in when the Lawrence Community Shelter will move out of its downtown location should mark this summer on their calendars.

Shelter leaders have confirmed that their contract to purchase a vacant warehouse building near the Douglas County Jail has been executed without a hitch. John Tacha, one of the leaders of the fundraising campaign for the shelter, said the organization raised enough money to pay cash for the building. (I did forget to confirm the purchase price, but it previously had been set at $2.06 million, or about $1 million over the appraised value set by the county.)

Tacha said the shelter now is working to have architects draw up construction plans for the renovation. Construction is expected to start in February.

“Hopefully before it gets hot this summer, we’ll be able to make the move,” Tacha said.

Work at the facility will include interior renovations to add a commercial kitchen — the facility will serve three meals per day — preparation of sleeping areas, privacy rooms, and an area where various agencies and a nursing program run by Baker University will be able to provide care and services. A large portion of the building also will be converted into space where shelter guests can do contract jobs — everything from stuffing envelopes to light assembly work — for area companies.

City officials also will have some work to do before the shelter opens in the summer. Tacha told city commissioners that he was “going to hold them to their promise” to provide bus service to the site. City commissioners on Tuesday indicated that was still their plan.

• Speaking of circling dates, the development community may circle and point back to Tuesday night’s City Commission meeting when it wants to argue that the city government is — this may be the most dreaded phrase at City Hall — “business unfriendly.”

As we reported, commissioners at Tuesday night’s meeting rejected a controversial plan to build more apartments near Clinton Parkway and Crossgate Drive. It ended up being a messy process, and basically a $50,000 “never-mind moment” for one local developer.

Here’s the rundown: Neighbors near the site have felt like for years that they’ve gotten a raw deal. Several years ago the area between Inverness and Crossgate was planned to be a retirement community. Many residents bought their homes thinking they were going to be living next to something like Brandon Woods, not one of the larger student apartment areas in the community.

But the retirement project fell apart before it ever got going, and the area kind of developed in a piecemeal fashion. City commissioners, though, decided they wanted to put an end to that. So in September, the city approved an official document called the Inverness Park District Plan. It spelled out how the remaining vacant pieces of ground in the area should be developed.

In the case of the piece of ground in question Tuesday night, it got really specific. The plan mentions the five-acres of undeveloped property at the intersection of Clinton Parkway and Crossgate. The plans calls for the area to become high-density residential development in the future. The plan lists three requirements that should be met before the vacant land is allowed to development as apartment uses. The zoning should be RM24, the size of the apartment buildings should be limited to two stories, and the apartments should be limited to one-bedroom units.

The plan that was brought forward by Lawrence developer Tim Stultz proposed to do all three. In September, all five of the current commissioners voted for the Inverness Park Plan. But on Tuesday, three of them voted against Stultz’s proposal that attempted to implement the plan. Several of the commissioners — Cromwell, Amyx and Schumm voted against the development on Tuesday — expressed surprise that the Inverness Park Plan called for the new apartment development.

But that brought a bit of rebuke from Commissioner Hugh Carter, who supported the apartment project. He read the language of the plan back to his fellow commissioners, and said he notice the language when he read the plan prior to voting for it in September. He also pulled a copy of the minutes of the September City Commission meeting, which noted that a staff member highlighted to the commission that a rezoning request likely would be coming forward for the vacant piece of ground.

“I’m concerned that we’re sending the message that we’re wishy-washy on our planning,” Carter said to fellow commissioners. “It feels like we didn’t know what we were voting on (in September) and that just can’t happen going forward.”

That comment caused some fellow commissioners to bristle, and Commissioner Mike Amyx said he disagreed with that assessment.

Stultz, meanwhile, bristled at Tuesday’s action. He did not speak during Tuesday’s meeting, but I caught up with him as he was leaving City Hall. He confirmed to me that he had spent more than $50,000 preparing the apartment plans to present to city commissioners, and did so because he believed the Inverness Park Plan made it clear that the development is what commissioners envisioned for the area.

“It is just disappointing when you have an approved plan and then it is not followed,” Stultz said. “The city’s transparency, I think, was in question here tonight. I was as transparent as I could be throughout the entire process. I was very upfront with everybody during the entire planning process that I wanted to seek a rezoning and a new site plan for the property.”

Neighbors — who didn’t speak out against the Inverness Park Plan in September — likely aren’t feeling sorry for Stultz. They feel like they've been on the short end of a City Hall equation several times before.

What’s interesting, though, is that they may end up feeling that way again. Despite rejecting the apartment proposal on Tuesday, commissioners took no action to change the wording in the Inverness Park Plan that calls for the apartment project to be built. That means that the idea of more apartments on that corner is still the official position of the city’s Planning Department. Developers will be free to file the same plans for that corner again in future years.


Clark Coan 6 years, 6 months ago

All of the men are going to sleep in one big room where they will keep each other awake with snoring, farting and talking in their sleep.I think the argument that small rooms with bunkbeds for the homeless would be a security problem is groundless. Even the jail has cells with bunkbeds. Why can't the homeless have a little dignity, Loring?

Eric Neuteboom 6 years, 6 months ago

I'd imagine Mr. Stultz's first stop after the meeting was his lawyer's office.

This sort of idiocy can not be tolerated. I expect better from our elected officials. To say that they approved a plan in September, but won't honor that decision in December, and still didn't change the plan is idiocy in every possible definition.

Rich Noever 6 years, 6 months ago

We need to get rid of these volunteers on the City Commission and hire some professionals!

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 6 years, 6 months ago

How about the "Fambrough Memorial to Mizzou Hysteria Drive?"

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 6 years, 6 months ago

I think that Carter knows quite well that if he distracts the commission with mindless boosterism, it makes it easier to grease the skids for the developer-friendly agenda he was hired to promote.

Daniel Speicher 6 years, 6 months ago


Fambrough rightly hated Missouri. On a historical level and a sportsmanship level, the state has notoriously been on the wrong side of both public opinion and what is good and decent. I, frankly, will miss hearing him rant about Missouri.

Furthermore, why is it ridiculous to change street names to honor Lawrence dignitaries, again? I'm really confused. You do realize this happens in nearly every city in America, right?

The only thing I'm disappointed in is that they aren't going to rename Missouri St. It is my opinion that no city in Kansas (or the rest of the nation) should be required to have a street with such a nasty title.

--Danny Speicher

missouri_street 6 years, 6 months ago

The residents of Missouri St. disagree. Change your own street name.

Maddy Griffin 6 years, 6 months ago

I agree. Leave the street names alone. It confuses everyone. Name a "new" street after him.There's always a new housing development going in somewhere.

Lenette Hamm 6 years, 6 months ago

Wait... what? Now it's 11th Street? Didn't someone want to rename Missouri St for Fambrough awhile back? Lawrence is already confusing enough to explain to new people driving around, since some numbered streets were changed to names.... Leave the streets alone. Honor Coach in some other way!

jcoozy1978 6 years, 6 months ago

Thinks we need to take the 2 million dollars we are wasting on the homeless shelter and bus them all to topeka..

geekin_topekan 6 years, 6 months ago

Actually, many of them came from Topeka.

"bus" them means to deny their civil rights and move them about according to someone's whimsy. Let's leave that to the communists and Sharia law, whatdaya say?

geekin_topekan 6 years, 6 months ago

Are you saying that jc'78's comment was meant to be anything less than malicious?

bearded_gnome 6 years, 6 months ago

only homeless we should payfor/serve should be: people with local ties; people with local history; and people who have started making constructive choices about their own lives, otherwise we are subsidizing their self-destruction.

otherwise, GT, I say we bill Topeka $10,000 per bum that comes here from Topeka. bet that'd fix the problem.

Martha Oldham 6 years, 6 months ago

I am infavor of changing part of Missouri street to Fambrough Ave. Let's get it done this time!!!!!!

missouri_street 6 years, 6 months ago

The residents of Missouri Street strongly disagree. Please feel free to rename your own street.

inthemiddle 6 years, 6 months ago

It seems as if the original idea was to rename Missouri Street to honor his strong dislike for that state. Changing 11th street really misses out on the point of the whole thing. If the university is already naming a street after him, it seems as if that should be sufficient.

riverdrifter 6 years, 6 months ago

+1. Missouri street should go away -like Missouri did.

bearded_gnome 6 years, 6 months ago

what Hitme said! City Commissioner Hugh Carter says that he wants the commission to consider the name change sometime in January. Fambrough, who coached the KU football

friends don't let friends vote for Hugh Carter!

he is right about the zoning issue on the southwest side though.

commish looks more than wishy-washy, they look down right silly.

50YearResident 6 years, 6 months ago

"Work at the facility will include interior renovations to add a commercial kitchen — the facility will serve three meals per day — preparation of sleeping areas, privacy rooms, and an area where various agencies and a nursing program run by Baker University will be able to provide care and services" And the "money pitt" continues. Don't put your wallets away yet. This is anly the beginning!.

Keith 6 years, 6 months ago

Looks like KU is going to name a street after Coach Fambrough, so there's no reason for us to duplicate their effort.

d_prowess 6 years, 6 months ago

Chad, have any of the commissioners commented on what type of development should go in the lot that Shultz wanted to develop? If the plans designate the area for apartments and they denied the building of apartments, what should go there?

kulawrencemom 6 years, 6 months ago

The land has already been developed - so nothing needs to go there. Stultz initially asked for an increase in zoning to RM15 and then built all of his apartments to one side and left the 5 acres or so as green space. He now was trying to increase the density again so he could build apartments on the green space in the original plan.

bearded_gnome 6 years, 6 months ago

I hear a neighborhood recycling company is looking for a new address.

hugedell 6 years, 6 months ago

I disagree with how Mr. Fagan characterizes the Inverness Park District Plan to the extent he is insinuating that the IPDP mandated that Stultz's land must be rezoned to RM24. Framing the facts this way leads readers to the conclusion that Commissioners Cromwell, Schumm and Amyx are “business unfriendly.” Such a conclusion is nothing more than myopic whining.

The IPDP discusses potential future land use as Stultz's property, but it does not "call for the area to become high-density residential development in the future," as Fagan suggests. Rather, the IPDP, as adopted, affirms the current zoning of RM15, and offers suggested guidance on future land use. The Commission adopted the IPDP, but in doing so it did not decide that the 5-acre parcel would in fact eventually be rezoned to RM24. Rather, at most, the Commission acknowledged that at some point in the future the land owner might want more and would have to go through the normal public processes to do so. Indeed, the IPDP specifically states that the future land use section is only a "conceptual guide[] for future development" and is "conceptual and should not be used to determine precise zoning boundaries." It further states that any changes to the current zoning of the undeveloped 5-acre parcel would have to go through the public approval process. This is in line with the IPDP's express policy to "[l]imit additional multi-family uses in the Planning Area." Consequently, the Commissioners were not bound under the IPDP to grant a future rezoning request, and they did not go back on their word in denying the one last night.

Also, this wasn’t an instance of the City Commission denying an innocent developer’s project without reason. The property is currently zoned RM15 because that’s what Stultz asked for. Based on Commissioner Amyx’s comments, Stultz (or his representatives) represented to the Commission at that time that RM15 was to be the maximum density needed. Stultz decided to max out on the density by building all th units on one side of the property. That is not the neighborhood’s or City Commission’s fault. The developer could have asked for RM24 to begin with, instead of small-stepping the Commission and representing that’s all he needed. The developer made his bed. Now let him sleep in it. If he wants to develop the 5-acre tract, let him spend the money to retrofit the current buildings to allow for more apartments on the 5-acre tract.

We need to get away from accusing Lawrence of being anti-business or anti-development just because 1 in every 10 projects or rezoning requests are rejected. We have City Commissioners (and a couple Planning Commissioners) for a reason, and a handful of them think critically about development or rezoning requests. Just because the City Commission doesn't rubber stamp 100% of everything that comes in front of it (like the Planning Commission does) doesn't make any one Commissioner – or this city as a whole – anti-business or anti-development.

Chad Lawhorn 6 years, 6 months ago

Hi: Mark Fagan didn't write any of what you're referring to. I did. Thanks, Chad Lawhorn

Dayna Lee 6 years, 6 months ago

Our town is so easy to find addresses in once you realize the pattern of the streets. Renaming a street is awful! If these people want to spend money on something, build this guy a bench.

dcap 6 years, 6 months ago

Maybe they should rename Redbud lane Gill Street to honor him.

Matt O'Reilly 6 years, 6 months ago

As a Redbud resident, please no-we go through enough. We should rename the SLT The Turner Gill Expressway-in two years, it'll take you out of Lawrence at a much higher than expected cost.

FlintlockRifle 6 years, 6 months ago

Coach already has "the bench" to the south, on the hill overlooking the football field

57chevy 6 years, 6 months ago

If we are going to rename streeets in Lawrence, how about after somebody that actually accomplished something instead of a coach or basketball player.? If that is the highest form of success in Lawrence, I am living in the wrong town. Lets find a preacher or doctor or soldier that actually made the world a better place instead of the strongest, fastest guy that managed to win a few games that are forgotten as soon as they are over. Maybe a writer or a poet or a musician? Sports (especially football, not exactly a reason to move to Lawrence)? Really? Who cares. Here's an idea. Lets name the road Obama Blvd. I'll throw in to buy the signs.

Tammy Copp-Barta 6 years, 6 months ago

On the Fambrough issue. I understand the concern was for the addresses, HOWEVER, what about the cost to the taxpayers! We're already BROKE!! Changing signs costs money, changing emergency software to reflect changes costs money, changing maps costs money. There are a LOT of noteworthy people that have done things for Lawrence, but why do we have to put a statue up, change a name of a street or add a bench every time ... why don't we just add a name to list of names to come up the next time we ADD a street in Lawrence!!!! Most people in our younger generation won't even have a clue who he was.

If you go to Watkins Museum and make an appointment to see old Lawrence records, you will be shocked at what information is probably up there and how it is NOT taken care of ... spend money there to clean up and preserve our history before those documents are lost .. pick some of those names ... without them Lawrence probably wouldn't be here today. So you want to waste money - take some of those founding people and erect someething - don't know or remember who they are right? My point exactly ....

Phil Minkin 6 years, 6 months ago

The penalty for turning from the proposed Fambrough St on to Missouri should be a ticket to a KU football game. On the second offense they come and get you and make you go.

Terry Sexton 6 years, 6 months ago

Andini had it right, name changing only makes sense if Mizzou were still around. You could've swapped 'em out when the tigers were in town. From 9th St. south to the stadium & then just put 'em back after we were done whuppin' on 'em. How hard would that have been once every other year?
Tremblin' tigers made it moot, though. Just not BIG XII material, I guess.

kernal 6 years, 6 months ago

Change name of street for Fambrough, who was fired twice? Are you kidding me!?

City Commission's latest fiasco? Well now, there's a surprise.

Homeless shelter? Bet their new neighbors can hardly wait. Plus, this will be such easy access for more folks from the KC area!

conservative 6 years, 6 months ago

Streets that run North South are named. Streets that run East West are numbered. Changing numbered streets to names just makes navigation confusing to people who don't live in the area.

Jonathan Fox 6 years, 6 months ago

Agreed, We really need to stop confusing everyone by renaming numbered streets. KU is already naming a street after him. It's hard enough to get around in this town with only half a dozen streets that are straight for more than a mile.

jhawkinsf 6 years, 6 months ago

Changing the name of a street can be a hassle for those living on that street. I suggest that whichever commissioner wants the name changed, it be his/her street that gets the name change. Then they'll be living with the consequences. As for Coach Fam., how about a park? A bright, new, glorious park. A place where everyone will feel good whenever they go there.

Richard Heckler 6 years, 6 months ago

Meet unfriendly to business which is also unfriendly to taxpayers:

By Kim McClure July 24, 2009

To the editor: The July 14 editorial asks, “What’s downtown going to look like five, 10 or 15 years from now?” The answer can be known, and the picture is not pretty.

Lawrence has enough spending to support about 4.1 million square feet of retail space, but the City Commission permitted developers to expand the supply to over 5.5 million square feet.

Lawrence has too much retail space chasing too few vendors, which means that many stores go empty, especially in the older shopping centers like downtown.

The surplus development has stalled redevelopment plans downtown and has pushed the vacancy rates so high that disinvestment and blight now threaten. Investment, both public and private, is wasted. The taxpayers’ $8 million parking garage stands largely empty. The Hobbs-Taylor building and the 600 block of Massachusetts should be the top performing spaces in the community, but they have significant vacancies.

The recession has contributed to the problem, but had we properly managed our growth we would be much better off.

The developers’ short-term gain is now our long-term loss. Managed growth would have prevented much of the problem and would have protected and enhanced our downtown.

It will take many, many years to absorb this surplus space and, until this happens, it will be hard for downtown to compete. We can only look forward to many years of high vacancy and disinvestment. We need a City Commission that knows how to pace the growth of supply so as to protect our unique downtown.

McClure is from Lawrence

Flap Doodle 6 years, 6 months ago

It's been days and days since you copy/pasted that same LTE, merrill. I was starting to think that you'd lost it.

bearded_gnome 6 years, 6 months ago

this letter has been long since discredited by a study, that included comparison to similar cities. found our vacancy rate is about par.

furthermore, this is yet another example of Merrill's mindless cut-and-paste. Irrelevant, vapid, senseless.
but when Merrilly actually posts his own words, we invariably see his shallow mind at work.

hey dude, go mow some more lawns with those polluting mowers you haul around in that carbon-footprint truck.

Richard Heckler 6 years, 6 months ago

Food for thought:

Our city's current budget crunch could easily be tied directly to infrastructure expenses needed to serve new residential developments. The community is way over extended in this regard.

If residential growth paid for itself and was financially positive, we would not be in a budget crunch. But with increased numbers of residential you have increased demand on services, and historically the funding of revenues generated by residential housing does not pay for the services, they require from a municipality.

blindrabbit 6 years, 6 months ago

We don't need a City Commission as it now exists with a hired City Manager. What the City need is a change to a Strong Mayor form of government where the mayor is directly elected and reportable to the electorate. What have now is a popularity contest electing non-professional individuals who are beholding to the Real Estate, Insurance, Banking, and building trades, with a "country club" Chamber serving it's own interests.

bearded_gnome 6 years, 6 months ago

and, make each commission seat a representative of a district in lawrence. that way, each area of lawrence has its own commissioner. i.e. the commissioner from north lawrence, the commissioner from southwest lawrence.

classclown 6 years, 6 months ago

Instead of changing the name of a street, change the name of the town. Make Lawrence,Ks into Fambrough,Ks. That way everyone suffers equally.

H_Lecter 6 years, 5 months ago

Leave the existing street names alone...Hugh.

If you want to name a street after Don Fambrough, name the SLT after him. It can be the "Dan Ryan Expressway" of Lawrence.

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