News and notes from around town:
• Fans of Quiznos toasted sandwiches are perhaps wondering what is going on with the restaurant on South Iowa Street. The Quiznos in the Tower Plaza shopping area at 2540 Iowa has been closed for several days. A sign in the window said the store would reopen on Jan. 17, but it did not. Several notes from UPS and beverage distributors are stuck on the window, which makes it clear they’re not sure what’s going on either.
The landlord for the Tower Plaza development said he expects the store to reopen soon. But he said he’s been told the store will reopen as corporately owned rather than franchise-owned store. The landlord said that’s the same situation that has happened with the Quiznos store on West Sixth Street. I’ve got a call into Quiznos’ corporate offices in Denver. I’ll let you know what I find out.
• Among all the weather-related cancellations yesterday, one caught my eye. Kansas City-based Deffenbaugh Industries suspended on Thursday trash services in several of the communities it serves. That included canceling curbside recycling pickups in Lawrence for the day. That caused me to wonder when was the last time the city of Lawrence suspended its trash service because of weather. I’ve been here 19 years and couldn’t remember a time. Officials in the sanitation department did some checking for me, and couldn’t find a record of when the last time trash service was canceled because of weather. But they’re confident in saying that there hasn’t been a weather-related cancellation in at least 35 years.
I bring this up for two reasons. One, I rode on the back of a trash truck for a day last year, and it was plenty tough without snow. The second reason is the future of the city’s trash system will be up for discussion at City Hall in the coming months. One issue that has been brought up is privatization of the system. Commissioners at their Feb. 8 meeting are expected to discuss creating a new task force that will study several options for how to change the trash system in the future.
• City commissioners on Monday will get together to evaluate City Manager David Corliss. Commissioners will meet in executive session from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. at City Hall. Corliss is the city’s top executive and is one of only two city employees whom commissioners are directly responsible for overseeing. (The city auditor is the other.) Corliss is responsible for the day-to-day operations of the city. But on a broader level, a big part of his job is implementing the goals that are set by the City Commission.
In case you have forgotten, here’s a list of the city’s goals and the city manager’s take on progress that has been made:
• Economic development: Promote economic development efforts to “provide varied work and business opportunities.” Progress: new economic development policy; TIFF and TDD successes at The Oread and at Bauer Farms; successful launch of the new incubator on West Campus and its related facility at Bob Billings and Wakarusa; acquisition of the former Farmland Industries Fertilizer plant.
• Planned growth: Encourage growth that protects “our environment, neighborhoods and cultural features.” Progress: Adoption of the International Codes; enactment of traditional neighborhood design code; adoption of several sector plans.
• Community building: Create social capital and celebrate our heritage. Progress: Designation of the Freedom’s Frontier National Heritage Area; the 2008 Get Downtown event; efforts to preserve the Santa Fe Depot in East Lawrence.
• Environmental issues: “Integrate the environment into our decisions as we work towards a sustainable city.” Progress: Voter support of transit system; hiring of sustainability coordinator; increased use of alternative fuels for transit vehicles.
• Neighborhood quality: “Improve the livability of all Lawrence neighborhoods.” Progress: Additional resources devoted to street maintenance; sidewalk “gap” programs implemented; additional resources for fire and police departments; Burroughs Creek Trail completed in eastern Lawrence; brick street project completed along New York Street; Clinton Parkway multi-use path replaced in western Lawrence.
• Transportation: “Improve access for all citizens.” Progress: Increased coordination with the KU transit system; Second and Locust Street intersection improvements; various street and transit improvements related to the sales tax approved by voters in 2008.
• Downtown development: “Enhance the vitality of downtown while maintaining it as a unique community treasure.” Progress: Resources dedicated to downtown infrastructure; community events focused on downtown.”
• Service delivery: “Provide excellent city services consistent with resources available.” Progress: Increased staffing of police department and new equipment for the fire department; infrastructure improvements.
I've paraphrased some of the goals and progress reports If you want to see the full document, it is here.
• If you are interested in Oread neighborhood issues, mark your calendar for Tuesday night. The City Commission will consider changes to the city’s multifamily zoning code and also to the regulations governing boarding houses. The zoning code change would allow greater density in the city’ RM 32 zoning district. The boarding house issue would change some parking standards, and also would remove the requirement for some boarding houses to get a special use permit from the city. Instead, the houses would be allowed as part of the zoning code. Both the RM 32 zoning and boarding houses have been major issues in the Oread neighborhood.
• Several of the boarding house issues were part of a shake-up in the composition of the Oread Neighborhood Association’s board of directors last year. The neighborhood, which is predominately rental, now has several of the larger landlords in the area on its board. That left some longtime board members and residents upset. It appears some residents still are. Candice Davis, a longtime Oread resident and former board member, recently sent a letter to the city’s Community Development Advisory Committee cautioning it to take any statements from the Oread Neighborhood Association with a grain of salt.
“As you know,” Davis writes, “ the ONA was essentially hijacked last winter by a group of landlords who do not live in the neighborhood and have not shown an interest in the neighborhood in previous years. Their present interest seems to be their rental businesses.”
Davis goes on to say that several residents in the Oread Neighborhood are considering forming a “resident association” in the near future.
I put a call into one of the Oread Neighborhood board members to see if the board has any thoughts on the subject. I’ll let you know if I hear anything.