Archive for Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Lake Alvamar dam set for $1.4 million upgrade

Dick Stuntz, president of Alvamar Inc., walks along a dock that should be floating in Lake Alvamar, formerly called Yankee Tank Lake, on March 18, 2009. A new top, a wider spillway and broader base will be added to the Lake Alvamar dam during the coming year, fortifying flood protection for a major road, a state highway and recreational complex downstream.

Dick Stuntz, president of Alvamar Inc., walks along a dock that should be floating in Lake Alvamar, formerly called Yankee Tank Lake, on March 18, 2009. A new top, a wider spillway and broader base will be added to the Lake Alvamar dam during the coming year, fortifying flood protection for a major road, a state highway and recreational complex downstream.

December 27, 2011


A new top, a wider spillway and broader base will be added to the Lake Alvamar dam during the coming year, fortifying flood protection for a major road, a state highway and recreational complex downstream.

King’s Construction Co. Inc. will handle the $1.4 million job to upgrade the dam, adjacent to the Jayhawk Tennis Center, 5200 Clinton Parkway. The vegetation-covered clay regulates the speed and amount of water flowing under Clinton Parkway, the South Lawrence Trafficway and through a nearby municipal recreational complex.

Work on the dam is expected to begin in the coming weeks and be finished next fall, in time to allow the watershed lake to start holding water again. The lake effectively has been dry since 2007, when it was drained for repairs but not allowed to refill because of safety concerns.

That’s because ongoing construction of homes, parking lots, roads and other hard surfaces upstream had led regulators to reclassify the dam as a “high hazard” structure, one requiring additional safeguards against dangers that weren’t present when the rural dam originally had been built to manage the flow of Yankee Tank Creek.

Upstream from the dam is the Lake Alvamar subdivision, site of a number of high-end homes, including one valued at more than $1 million overlooking the lake. Some vacant lots along the water command values of $200,000 or more.

Construction throughout the broad drainage area upstream has sent more water moving faster into the lake, said Dick Stuntz, general manager of Alvamar Golf and Recreation Facility and a member of the Wakarusa Watershed Joint District No. 35, which is in charge of the project.

Because culverts beneath Clinton Parkway and the trafficway were designed and built with the dam in place — but before the significant development upstream — upgrading the structure became a priority, Stuntz said.

Nearly three years ago the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Service agreed to spend spent $230,000 to come up with a plan for upgrades.

Now, the federal government is pumping $1 million into the contract with King’s Construction to:

• Double the width of the dam’s auxiliary spillway, and strengthening it by covering the spillway with concrete or rock.

• Broaden the base of the dam into portions of This Field and That Field, two former ball diamonds that had been managed by a previous owner, Sport2Sport.

• Add 6 feet to the top of the dam itself.

To make the dam stronger and taller, crews will use clay removed while widening the spillway, said Dale Ping, an estimator for the Oskaloosa-based firm. Bulldozers, backhoes, dump trucks and other equipment will be on site into the fall, with crews working some Saturdays to get the lake back into working order.

“We should be done in the fall,” he said.

While the bulk of project expenses will be covered by the federal government, several local sources also are being tapped. Among them:

• A benefit district that includes Alvamar and about 30 other owners of property around and above the lake, $180,000.

• City of Lawrence, $50,000.

• Douglas County, $50,000.

Other contributors include the Kansas Water Office, Kansas Athletics Inc., the Kansas Department of Transportation and the watershed district itself, Stuntz said.

“If the dam is not adequate … there is a chance for a great loss of property and a loss of life,” said Stuntz, who noted that expanding culverts beneath the trafficway instead would have been expected to cost up to $10 million.


consumer1 6 years, 2 months ago

What a bunch of BS. Drain it and make it a culvert. A lot cheaper. There was a lake in my neighborhood but the houses were less than $200.000. so they drained the lake. Money talks.

Dan Blomgren 6 years, 1 month ago

Consumer, You're right, money does talk. Let's follow your suggestion and make it a culvert, but by doing so it doesn't fix the problem that the dam still needs to be repaired. But now instead of expensive homes on this land whereby the city earns higher property taxes we have a culvert earning the city zero dollars, and lessening the beauty of Lawrence by eliminating nice homes and recreation fields.
Please do me a favor and never run for the city commission.

Keith 6 years, 2 months ago

Public pays for a private lake, sounds about right. Socialism is only bad when it benefits the poor.

littlexav 6 years, 2 months ago

The lake isn't private per se, but it sure benefits those "yankees" living on Yankee Tank's shoreline a lot more than it benefits anyone else in town, and certainly more than it benefits anyone else in the country (even though this is apparently being bankrolled by the Feds).

jesse499 6 years, 2 months ago

It's a water shed lake that we built but I no of some friends that got ran off it years ago for fishing by a X- KU football coach that said it was his.

hujiko 6 years, 2 months ago

Now that the public is footing some of the bill, will the public gain access to this West Lawrence gem?

Highly doubtful.

jesse499 6 years, 2 months ago

We paid for building it in the first place but they gave it to the high rollers.

bangaranggerg 6 years, 2 months ago

What's the story on how it went from being known as Lake Yankee Tank to being called Lake Alvamar? Is that official? Really glad to hear about this project. Good luck to the crews!

hujiko 6 years, 2 months ago

"Buffum's tragic death incensed all the free-state settlers, but none more than Ezekiel Colman, an outspoken abolitionist from Boston, Massachusetts who had arrived in Lawrence on October 19, 1854. Settling on a claim southwest of Lawrence, he sold it after two years and moved into Lawrence where he ran a general store. In 1858 he bought a quitclaim to the property just south of the Wakefields. The Judge and his Yankee neighbor were never good friends. Each set a row of hedge trees along the mutual boundary line - a no man's land - still visible today between the two farms. To water his livestock, Colman placed a tank along the stream that rose from Wakefield's spring. After a heavy rain when the stream ran full, the neighbors would say, "The Yankee's tank is running over." Consequently the stream that meanders southeast to meet the Wakarusa near Brown's Grove is known as the Yankee Tank."

Soil of Our Souls: Histories of the Clinton Lake Area Communities Martha Parker & Betty Laird

As for its current name, Alvamar purchased it and renamed it. What a shame.

james bush 6 years, 2 months ago

Thank you for enlightening us. That was nice of you in deed. Happy New Year.

West_Sider 6 years, 2 months ago

See page D-11 & D-12 for the real reason this little pet project is going to happen...

1southernjayhawk 6 years, 2 months ago

Thanks for the reference; I don't know why "news" articles from "journalists" can't provide this kind of information. However, I do not agree with your assessment. This project, as the report indicates, does provide /enhance value to surrounding property and they will pay their proportionate share, as indicated and evaluated in the report. But the larger value is for the public good, not the least of which are the recreational fields to the south, which benefit greatly.

littlexav 6 years, 2 months ago

thanks for the link. i understand flood control is part of this project, but the dam's been down since 2007 - does anyone know if the rec fields have had any flooding problems? i haven't heard of any...

bangaranggerg 6 years, 2 months ago

City and county money are used on plenty of projects that are ecologically or geologically beneficial to the community's drainage and water flow management, etc. I really don't understand how a reasonable person could be upset by this. Crazy talk...

1southernjayhawk 6 years, 2 months ago

Lake on private property owned by taxpaying property owners= private lake; Upgrade of private lake in support of public interests=still private lake.

Dan Blomgren 6 years, 1 month ago

Bob, You have missed the point yet again. The dam protects city and county roads, youth fields, and the citizens of this community and that's why the City of Lawrence and Douglas County are paying their small percentage of the fee. Public money= Public roads, public youth fields, and public safety. The Alvamar group and others mentioned are contributing nearly twice as much as City of Lawrence and Douglas county are contributing combined.

James Minor 6 years, 2 months ago

The public pays and doesn't get a green fees break on the private side - hum? 10 free rounds on the private side for any golfer in Lawrence that wants it. How about that idea for meeting the public halfway!!!

hujiko 6 years, 2 months ago

Article from 2009 when this story first surfaced:

Article from earlier this year:

The overwhelming majority of posters from articles pertaining to this issue want public access should public funds be used. How about the public gains usage along any areas set to be improved, that way the land owners get their increased property value and the public is allowed to enjoy recreational aspects.

Evan Ridenour 6 years, 2 months ago

The land owners should be paying every cent of the local cost. The county and city shouldn't be picking up anything.

Dan Blomgren 6 years, 1 month ago

The problems with opinions is that everyone gets one!

Dan Blomgren 6 years, 1 month ago

The problems with opinions is that everyone gets one!

Scott Morgan 6 years, 2 months ago

At least in other states if public money is used to improve impoundments citizens are then given reasonable access to the waters for fishing/hunting.

Some farmers and landowners are fine with this, others will never tell you. Some simply leave giant angry bulls in the area and tell you good fishing. Hint, look for large culverts near roads.

Bob_Keeshan 6 years, 2 months ago

How does this project serve the public interest? It serves the public interest just fine now that all the water has been drained out.

The only reason this public money is being wasted is to fill the hole up with water.

No water, no taxpayer money needed. If the private property owners want water, let them pay for it.

KU_cynic 6 years, 2 months ago

This comment was removed by the site staff for violation of the usage agreement.

10sne1 6 years, 2 months ago

As referenced under the lead picture, Dick Stuntz is no longer the President of Alvamar, Inc. He was voted out in fall of this year (check your facts, LJ World). It is not surprising, however that most of the money is coming from other places besides Alvamar, their new management company has run the golf club WELL into the red after taking over in mid-May. Unless they sold off some of their remaining real estate assets, there is NO WAY Alvamar, Inc could fund a million dollar-plus water shed project.

Alex Parker 6 years, 2 months ago

10sne1, both the photo you saw and the one you see now are file photos from 2009, and are referenced as such.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 6 years, 2 months ago

At the very least, valuations of the properties around this lake should reflect their "lakefront" location, so that local government entities at least see higher property tax revenues as a result of significant government expenditures on their behalf.

Apollo Hernandez 6 years, 1 month ago

Nice to see my tax money being used for yet another thing I cannot partake in...

Dan Blomgren 6 years, 1 month ago

Do you enjoy the roads or sports fields? That's what the dam protects!

bangaranggerg 6 years, 1 month ago

Oh man I had forgotten how far LJworld commenters are removed from reality, it's been a while.. oh well back to never looking at the comment sections.

Dan Blomgren 6 years, 1 month ago

The landowners and Alvamar are helping with the cost, $180k compared to City of Lawrence and Douglas County only kicking in 50k each. Sure the rebuild benefits those around the lake, but it also protects city and county property as well, so why should the landowners foot the entire bill? Everyone pays their fair share with the landowners paying over 3X the city or county. Not to mention with the lake being refilled the property values will increase and the landowners will be hit with higher taxes too. The Fed's are kicking in 1M, but that's coming from Obama's stimulus package that I'm sure all you bleeding heart liberals wanted in the first place. Any of you complaining want a piece of that land? Last I checked we still live in America so make a fair offer to one of the landowners then you too can benefit, otherwise stop crying. It seems fair to me, and if a few landowners benefit then fine.

blindrabbit 6 years, 1 month ago

Save the taxpayers, tear down the damn dam, fill in and that way Alvamar can sell the newly created lots, thus creating taxable lots for development. This way everybody wins, no loss but gains to the rest of us taxpayers, and nobody feeling that a few rich owners get the benefit of a lake that the rest of us cannot enjoy. Also will not need to create a new fish ladder to allow the endangered prairie trout to migrate upstream to it's historic spawning grounds on Upper Yankee Tank Creek just offf the intersection of Bob White Road and Bob Billings Parkway. This proposal should make the right-wingers, the liberals, the environmentalists, the do-gooders, the silver spooners and the downtrodden equally treated and happy.

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