Archive for Monday, February 7, 2011

Town Talk: A little Dillons this and that; Hy-Vee to take over city concession contract; Free State beer and a roomful of reporters

February 7, 2011


News and notes from around town:

• Let’s think of this like the day-old shelf at Dillons. There were several items brought up at Thursday’s public hearing on the Dillons project for south Massachusetts Street that were interesting but that didn’t make it into my original article due to time and space constraints. So, here are few available to you at deeply discounted prices:

  1. Dillons is proposing to make significant changes to its original plan for a driveway off of New Hampshire Street. Plans still call for a driveway, but it basically will become a one way driveway. Motorists will be able to pull off of New Hampshire Street into the store’s parking lot. But they won’t be able to exit the parking lot onto New Hampshire Street. Well, most of the time they won’t be able to. The company is proposing to put removable bollards — pipe-like devices that stick out of the ground — across half the driveway. Dillons officials said they would keep the bollards in place during heavy traffic times — such as morning and evening rush hours and perhaps on Kansas University game days and weekends — to keep traffic off of New Hampshire Street. But the bollards would be removed during other parts of the day, in part to allow better access for delivery trucks.
  2. Plans for the store still include a drive-thru pharmacy lane off of New Hampshire Street, but the bollards play a role in that, too. People will enter the pharmacy drive-thru from New Hampshire but the bollards will prevent them from pulling back onto New Hampshire. The plan is that motorists will exit onto Massachusetts Street.
  3. The owner of On the Rocks Discount Liquor — which is just south of Dillons — is one of the main opponents to the current plans. Jennie Storm, owner of the store, told the city’s Board of Zoning Appeals that that the new design of Dillons — which will be much closer to the street — will make it difficult for motorists to see her store. She also pointed out that by facing Dillons to the north that her customers are going to see the backside of Dillons, which she contends is not a pretty sight. She showed several photos of the backside of Dillons to zoning commissioners. And finally, she thinks the smaller parking lot for the new store is a bad idea. She said she’s afraid Dillons customers will take up valuable spots in her lot. She also thinks Dillons is not leaving enough room for delivery trucks to congregate, which will lead to those trucks idling in her lot. Dillons officials disagree with those assessments.
  4. A neighbor of the store, Bob Gent, told zoning commissioners one story about a Dillons delivery truck. He said delivery trucks getting their wheels into the yards of people’s homes along New Hampshire Street is pretty common. Sometimes, though, it is a pretty big production. He said a delivery semi-truck once got its wheels into his neighbor’s yard so far that it got high-centered. It had to be towed out of the yard. And, by the way, this all happened at the inconvenient time of about 3 a.m. But Dillons officials said they believe the new design will eliminate those problems. The store will have two loading dock areas — one on the Massachusetts Street side and one on the New Hampshire side. The New Hampshire loading dock will be built 10 feet deeper into the store, meaning trucks will have more room to make the turn onto New Hampshire Street.
  5. Dillons officials did provide one brief explanation about why they want the new store to face north instead of west like the current store. They said they spent more than a year trying to design a store of the right size that faces west, but it would have required a basement area for much of the store’s backroom operations. That was deemed to be too inefficient.
  6. And finally, it was interesting to watch the varied opinions from neighbors. The neighborhoods east of Massachusetts Street traditionally have been a tight bunch. But there were two distinct camps of neighbors at Thursday’s meeting — those right next to the store and those who lived in the broader neighborhood. It was pretty cordial, but there were a couple of times the room was a little on edge. Austin C. Turney — not the former school board member but rather his son — said he didn’t think neighbors who knowingly bought property next to a grocery store had much right to complain about increased traffic. “Traffic is part of a commercial property,” he said.

• Just to show that we believe in equal opportunity, here’s a little news about Hy-Vee. The Lawrence grocery chain is expected to be chosen as the new concessions vendor for several Lawrence Parks and Recreation facilities. City commissioners at their meeting on Tuesday are expected to approve a contract that allows Hy-Vee to operate the concession stands at YSI, Clinton Lake Adult Softball Complex, Holcom Park Sports Complex, and the Lawrence Outdoor Aquatic Center. In case you’re wondering, the city will receive 15 percent of gross sales up $100,000, and 20 percent for gross sales over $200,000. Hy-Vee will replace Cesare Catering.

• What do you get when you combine a roomful of journalists and a lot of Free State beer? The possible answers to that question are varied — and many are unprintable. But in this case, it gets you a mention in Town Talk. Lawrence-based Free State beer was the featured beverage recently at the gala dinner of the National Press Club in Washington, D.C., according to Free State owner Chuck Magerl. The prestigious Press Club was inducting former Kansan Mark Hamrick as its incoming president, and he chose to serve Free State beer and Kansas Tallgrass beef to the nation’s media elite. (I can attest that Lawrence’s non-elite media also enjoy a bottle or two occasionally.) Hamrick — who is a business and financial reporter for the Associated Press — spent some time on the airwaves in Lawrence, Magerl said. The theme of the Press Club’s gala was “We’re Not in Kansas Anymore.”

• Magerl also provided an update on how Free State’s new beer bottling operations are progressing. Free State beer is now available in most every Kansas county — well, except the three that don’t have liquor stores. Magerl said he expects deliveries to begin to Kansas City, Mo., liquor stores by early March, just in time for the Big 12 Tournament.


HalsteadHawk 7 years, 1 month ago

So, I'll have to turn left onto Mass so I can turn left onto 19th so I can turn right onto New Ham to get back to my house? That sounds like fun.

HalsteadHawk 7 years, 1 month ago

Probably go to Checkers, since it'll be just as convenient now

7 years, 1 month ago

You could just drive past On the Rocks and turn onto New Hampshire from it's east side driveway. It's absolutely easy. No muss. No fuss. No gripes.

HalsteadHawk 7 years, 1 month ago

That sounds nice, just not very practical most of the time.

blindrabbit 7 years, 1 month ago

Ought to be interesting when some driver smacks into one of the "pipe-like" removable bollards.

svenway_park 7 years, 1 month ago

Free State Beer also shows up as the best-in-the-state here, of course, I am not sure there is even any competition:

Bill Lee 7 years, 1 month ago

15% up to $150K and 20% over $200K. What about concessions between $150-200K?

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