The last 12 months were both busy and difficult for Lawrence’s surrounding communities. Projects were completed, delayed and proposed throughout 2010 in an effort to cope with budget cuts and economic shortfalls.
Looking ahead, the neighboring cities of Lecompton, Eudora and Baldwin City will see much of the same. Here’s a look at the year that was and the year that lies ahead:
Eudora year in review
• Construction began on Lawrence Memorial Hospital’s Eudora medical building. The facility is scheduled to open in late April. Eudora City Administrator John Harrenstein said the project is symbolic of the area’s growth and will help make providing health care easier.
• The Eudora City Council approved water plan upgrades that Harrenstein said should give operators better equipment and help the city to provide higher quality water to the community.
• The city also removed more than 15 abandoned structures from the community in an effort to enhance the area’s overall image.
• The Interstate 70 interchange in Eudora opened. “That was huge,” Harrenstein said. “It’s a cool thing for us.” He also said city leaders would work to address traffic issues on Main Street.
• Recent census numbers showed the Eudora community is growing, something Harrenstein attributed to the city’s strong schools, small-town values, low-cost housing and easy commuter access.
• Eudora was selected as a stop for the Bike Across Kansas event in June 2011.
• In 2011, city leaders will be working on economic development. Downtown businesses have been suffering, and there are many vacancies. Harrenstein said the city will hold roundtable discussions this month to find a way to stop the bleeding and to encourage new businesses to locate in downtown Eudora.
• City Council members will also be working with Parks and Recreation on a project to lower rates for families and individuals. The plan will also call for more equipment for the recreation center as well as a finished parking lot with a paved road in front. Harrenstein said parks and rec was a top priority for 2011.
“It’s something the community should be proud of,” he said. “We want to continue to increase participation.”
• The city of Eudora will be redesigning its website in the new year.
• Residents will be given the option of using curbside recycling.
• A recent audit indicated Eudora needed a new fire station. City leaders will be looking into that possibility.
• Eudora will also be partnering with Efficiency Kansas to have energy audits done on residents’ homes and will be working with the organization to obtain funding for upgrades.
• Eudora will look into getting a full-time ambulance for the community, seeking to provide the same services as nearby cities.
“We’re really positioning ourselves for a great future based on the leadership of our City Council and school board,” Harrenstein said. “We hope people can catch that wave of excitement.”
Lecompton year in review
• The Perry-Lecompton school district received a technology grant worth $125,000 that will help pay for smart boards and computers for the district’s fifth- and sixth-grade students.
• The Lecompton Township dedicated a new maintenance facility that will be used to hold maintenance equipment and supplies. The project was completed without an increase in taxes.
• The city of Lecompton completed a water project that included installing a new water tower and water system. The tower cost more than $650,000 while the treatment plant was more than $2 million. The completion of the new system, according to Lecompton Historical Society president Paul Bahnmaier, played a major role in extinguishing a large fire in June. Bahnmaier said the system allows for an unlimited water supply and helped crews save the area church.
• The Lecompton Historical Society purchased the property north of Constitution Hall, which now sits at 319 Elmore St., in 2010. Bahnmaier said a fire near the building in 2009 made the community realize the importance of protecting it.
• A granite monument honoring all veterans from Lecompton and Kanwaka will be dedicated on June 25 by the historical society. Bahnmaier said former residents from across the country have called in to have their names included on the monument. So far, more than 900 names have been received.
“It’s really going to be a big deal,” Bahnmaier said. “We’ve thought about doing it for a long time.”
The monument will be just south of Constitution Hall.
• Business buildings on Elmore Street are being remodeled and rehabilitated. A new business has opened on the street part-time.
• Berry Plastics will be constructing a 675,000-square-foot distribution center in the area. Bahnmaier said the project will result in about 150 new jobs and will keep the branch competitive among Berry Plastics locations.
• The city applied for a street improvement grant totaling more than $380,000. Twenty-five percent will come from money the city has been putting aside for such purposes, so no taxes will be collected to fund the project.
Baldwin City year in review
Baldwin undertook a number of construction projects in 2010. They include:
• Completion of the second phase of a project aimed at providing more sewer capacity. City crews also tested many sewer mains and replaced ones with serious problems;
• Completion of a Kansas Department of Transportation-funded project that added sidewalks, improved crosswalks and added appropriate signage to routes for students walking to school;
• Leasing property to the Baldwin Professional Women for use as a community garden;
• Completion of a 14-month overhaul of zoning regulations and subdivision and development standards.
• The city attempted to secure a grant to allow the construction of a hiking and biking trail, a high priority in a Parks and Trails Master plan, but was ultimately unsuccessful.
• City staff spent time in support of new athletic fields, an elementary school and performing arts center, which were included in the school district 348’s projects for 2010.
• For the first time since 2002, the city adjusted electric utility rates. City Administrator Jeff Dingman said the city invested in an expansion of breakers to help distribute the city’s electricity load more evenly and efficiently.
• Determining the future of the city’s water supply is a major focus of 2011, Dingman said. Contracts with the Kansas Water Office and Lawrence will expire in 2017 and 2018. The current best solutions to this issue are either to continue with Lawrence or enter into an arrangement with another neighboring city to become a co-owner of an independent water production.
• The city will compete in the “Take Charge Challenge,” to encourage residents to be more aware of their energy usage. The project will run throughout 2011.
• A potential business park project will depend on the results of a recently conducted feasibility study.
• City leaders will be looking to expand the community’s electronic presence. This will include a possible option for online billing and an updated city website. Hardware upgrades will take place early in 2011 to help prepare for the process.