Archive for Thursday, February 3, 2011

Town Talk: 23rd Street bridge to cost city $1.2 million; Lawrence likes to have fun; Dillons faces key vote tonight

February 3, 2011


Dillons live blog

I'll be live blogging the Board of Zoning Appeals meeting Thursday night on, but you can join in the conversation, too.

Leave comments on the blog or tweet using the hashtag #dillons. We'll import #dillons tweets into the live blog, so you can see what the community is saying about the project.

News and notes from around town:

As we’ve previously reported, motorists along 23rd Street will face a real hassle in 2012 when state construction crews replace the bridge near Haskell Indian Nations University. But now it is becoming clear that the KDOT project also will be a bit of a pain to the city’s coffers. City commissioners recently were told that several major sewer and water lines that run underneath the bridge will have to be moved to accommodate the project. The city has four sewer lines ranging in size from 12 inches to 27 inches and several water mains ranging from 8 inches to 12 inches under the bridge. As you might guess, moving those lines won’t be cheap. Current projections estimate the cost at $1.2 million.

Even though the bridge project isn’t the city’s, the city is responsible for all costs associated with moving sewer and water lines. And no, the city is not complaining about that because turnabout is fair play. The city routinely makes utilities pay to move power lines, telephone lines and other types of utilities to accommodate city road projects. City officials told me it is just the cost of having a utility. But sometimes it can be a significant cost. As for how the city will pay for it — well, let’s just say it will be helpful if you water your lawn this summer. The project will be paid for through water and sewer rates, but the city has already factored the project into the current rate plan, so no new adjustments will be needed to the rates.

• As for the bridge project itself, Chuck Soules, the city’s public works director, tells me it is still on schedule. He said KDOT officials understand the importance of 23rd Street in the city’s transportation network, and are looking to get the project done as quickly as possible. It also appears that KDOT understands Lawrence. Soules said KDOT’s goal for the project is to not start major construction activities until after the Final Four and to have major construction completed before KU’s football season.

“That will be really fast for that large of a project,” Soules said.

Who wants to take the over on that over-under bet?

Plans do still call for traffic to remain open in both directions. The project will include building two “shoe-fly” roads. The roads will take traffic down, along each side of the bridge project, and then back up to 23rd Street.

Think positive. It will be like adding a mini-amusement ride to your daily commute.

• In case you have any doubts about whether having fun is on the minds of Lawrence residents, here’s an interesting little piece of data: Of the top 20 pages viewed on the city of Lawrence’s website, 11 of them were related to sports, parks or recreation.

Here’s the top 20 pages:

  1. Parks and Recreation
  2. Jobs
  3. Adult Sports
  4. Adult Sports Softball
  5. Utility Billing
  6. Departments
  7. Youth Sports
  8. Planning and Development Services
  9. Agendas
  10. City Services A-Z
  11. LPRD (Parks and Rec) Web Enrollment
  12. Indoor Aquatics Center
  13. Aquatics
  14. LPRD Classes
  15. Google Fiber for Communities
  16. Youth Sports Baseball
  17. Parks
  18. Residents
  19. City Maps
  20. Eagle Bend Golf Course

It would be interesting to see how Lawrence’s top 20 compares to the top 20 of other area cities. I’ll do some looking.

Also, it does appear that more and more people are turning to the Internet to connect with the city. The city’s website — which is — received 877,938 total visits in 2010. That was up 58 percent from 2009.

• I’ll be doing something tonight I normally don’t do — covering the city’s Board of Zoning Appeals. The Dillons project on South Mass. Street will be up for a pair of key votes. I’m interested to see how strong the neighborhood opposition is to the current plans. I’m also interested to hear whether Dillons goes into any detail about why they believe the store needs to face north rather than to the west like the current store does today. The meeting begins at 6:30 p.m. Thursday at City Hall, Sixth and Massachusetts.

What town talk have you been hearing? Send me a tip at


sallyone 7 years, 2 months ago

I do not think that dillions ought to be allowed to change the layout of their store. they really don't even need a new dillions there as it is now there is hardly ever anybody in it whenever I'm there. Don't waste the money and resources on it. Replace the old dillons on 6th street, it really needs to be replaced.

Flap Doodle 7 years, 2 months ago

When you have your own store, you may do with it what you wish.

1southernjayhawk 7 years, 2 months ago

well, not exactly what you wish. The neighbors and city planners will let you know what you may do with your store.

sallyone 7 years, 2 months ago

I think that my post was quite clear in pointing out the fact the dillons on mass is always practically empty and the one on 6th and lawrence ave is always full and that it needs to be updated first and the dillons on mass shouldn't be updated since hardly anybody uses it or at least nobody is ever there when I'm there.

shadowlady 7 years, 2 months ago

Whats up your nose?? I never smell anything bad in that store. And why does everyone call it a slum store?? Because poor people shop there?? They do a lot of business there, the people that work there are great, kind, helpful, and courteous. I shop there more than any other store. And I don't see anything unsightly about it. It looks like all the other stores. AND it is a lot easier to get into from a disabled persons stand point. The Dillons on 6th and Lawrence Ave., the handicap parking is clear at the end of the building, making it further to walk, and you take a person, that has a hard time walking, it seems like a mile. The Dillons further out on 6th street, the parking is in the front, but its also further away from the entrance. The Dillons on 23rd isn't bad at all, it is easier to get into, for the disabled.

sr80 7 years, 2 months ago

why don't you just keep your sorry butt at the merc.we don't like hippie types anyway.

kernal 7 years, 2 months ago

It does smell really bad outside of the store in summer when their dumpsters get full before the trash guys get there.

I've noticed bad smells at one time or other in every grocery store in town, except for the Merc. Probably because the Merc isn't as large and doesn't have as large of a meat, poultry and fish department as the other markets in town. I think the Merc also has more employees per square foot than the others. That's likely why the Merc is cleaner. Also, the Merc meat department knows what bad seafood smells like. I think some of the kids at Dillons and Hy Vee need some training on that.

kernal 7 years, 2 months ago

Wish that were true when I stop there to pick up a couple of items. I'm curious as to what hours of the day you're referring to. I've always had to wait in line; especially at the self -check out area. I also shop the 6th St and Lawrence Ave store. It seems to still be in pretty good shape.

The only other store in town that needs a face lift, is the Hy-Vee at Kasold and Clinton Pkwy. It's beginning to look a tad grungy, IMHO.

1julie1 7 years, 2 months ago

Have you been in it lately? It is undergoing major renovations. An earlier story in the JW detailed all the changes to come.

kernal 7 years, 2 months ago

I haven't been in there for two or three weeks and have been following LJW articles about it.

somedude20 7 years, 2 months ago

No one uses it? Take it from someone who lives right by there and goes there often, that place gets crowded. Oh, I love the "always practically empty" line as it either sounds like some drivel from Coldplay or from some politician. Rarely is anything is life "always" either. True, death is always going to get everyone and the sun always sets and rises (women always act more crazy than men) but little in this world always happens. If you are looking for a nice big new Dillon's might I suggest trying the one on 23rd st or 6 and Wak

JustNoticed 7 years, 2 months ago

You have committed the fallacy of the too-small sample, also known as the "My Aunt Emma" argument. You are disqualified for illogic, please withdraw from the field.

twofrogs5846 7 years, 2 months ago

They don't use it because its crap. If they were to redo it I would actually consider going there.

cummingshawk 7 years, 2 months ago

The store at 6th & Kasold was built in the mid 1980's, the Mass Street one opened in the 1960's. A newer larger store would benefit the neighborhood and probably add more to the city's coffers compared to the site's current configuration.

adastra 7 years, 2 months ago

I'm wondering at what price the President of the Oread Neighborhood (Landlords) Association (Rob Farha) offered to sell his apartment just north of Mass St. Dillons, to Dillons. Will he be required to provide this information at tonight's meeting of the BZA?

So Dillons wouldn't meet his price, and now he is " so concerned about the neighborhood" and wants to exact punishment on Dillons? What genuine neighborhood concern.

pizzapete 7 years, 2 months ago

I heard something about Dillon's trying to buy out that building, but didn't know this is the same guy raising all the concern about the project. If he is truely concerned about the noise and Dillons is offering fair market value for his building I don't see how he has a legitimate complaint. In fact I'd like to see eminent domain take over in this case.

jafs 7 years, 2 months ago


The idea of eminent domain was that the government could take private property in order to use it for things in the common good (like roads), and provide them just compensation for it.

Even in that form, I'm not crazy about the idea. But, your idea that a private company should be able to kick somebody out of their house because they want to build a bigger store is much worse.

Carol Bowen 7 years, 2 months ago

I agree with jafs. I do not think that his property should not be at risk because of development nearby. Didn't the Supreme Court rule that eminent domain could only be applied for public welfare?

On the flip side, I hope that a single property owner does not sway a hearing. What do the other neighbors think?

ralphralph 7 years, 2 months ago

Re - Dillons ... Really? Someone wants them to NOT redo the store? Sheesh! You ought to be glad that they are not just closing it.

Don't know why it's going to face North ... seems odd, to me ... but I don't care. Let 'em build it.

shadowlady 7 years, 2 months ago

They are still in business, just moved to a different location.

somedude20 7 years, 2 months ago

I miss that dirty little liquor store that was next to Dillons. The one where the dude (for you sallyone) always had a chew in his mouth and you could smell his chew breath from 4 feet away. You know, the liquor store so dirty that it made the Dillons next to it look like the Royal Palace. So dirty that you need to get all of your booster shots and vaccines before you go in. I once watched a dude buy a case of King Cobra (not the G.I. bad guy) there, gross

gl0ck0wn3r 7 years, 2 months ago

I genuinely hope that if Dillons doesn't get the vote it needs that it closes the store. If the neighborhood doesn't want a grocery store to operate in a manner the owners believe is both efficient and profitable then why bother? Let the concerned locals put up the cash and open a market in the location if they are the experts. Perhaps Merrill will invest. Merchants need to stop building crippled stores to satisfy the local no-growthers who do not want them there anyway.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 7 years, 2 months ago

I agree, glock. The only good outcome here would be for Dillion's to act spitefully towards the people you imagine to be living in that neighborhood. Make sure you dash off a letter to the Kroger CEO to let him know how important it is to you.

irvan moore 7 years, 2 months ago

Dillons wants to make an investment in a fragile neighborhood, the store is an anchor and if they close it the neighborhood will suffer. we will lose property value, families will not want to live there and the neighborhood will decline. it really doesn't matter which way the store faces, it matters that it is there. some of those people complain about everything but never put up any money to invest in our community.

Chris Ogle 7 years, 2 months ago

"The project will be paid for through water and sewer rates, but the city has already factored the project into the current rate plan, so no new adjustments will be needed to the rates. "

Guess our late fee "adjustments" will not be going up.

somedude20 7 years, 2 months ago

If they close Dirty Dillons, where will all of the old people from Babcock Plaza going to go for exercise and entertainment?

dogsandcats 7 years, 2 months ago

I would guess they want it to face north so that the back loading docks would be accessible from Mass St.

Although I don't know why they need another big Dillons when there's one just a few blocks away on 23rd st.

kernal 7 years, 2 months ago

northtown, do you think a smaller market could survive in North Lawrence? The larger ones haven't been able to.

xclusive85 7 years, 2 months ago

Yes, two of the other dillons do face north, but they are on east west roads, not a north south road. Their faces face toward the street. This would not.

kernal 7 years, 2 months ago

I'm probably one of the few posters here who remembers when there were no supermarkets. There were "mom and pop" groceries in every neighborhood - close enough for everyone to reach by walking. And, they sold real food, not three aisles of junk food.

Carol Bowen 7 years, 2 months ago

I do not live in the neighborhood, but I have shopped there on occasion. It a very active neighborhood grocery store. It's always busy, service is good, and I can always find what I need. If Dillon's wants to improve the store, more power to them. They have made efforts to work with the neighborhood. Was the neighborhood input incorporated into the plan? I think it would be a benefit for those who shop there.

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