Archive for Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Concerns raised city budget cut may hurt West Lawrence rec center proposal

July 19, 2011


Fans of a proposed West Lawrence recreation center were urged Tuesday to start making some noise at City Hall in hopes of keeping the idea alive during tight budget times.

Members of the city’s Parks and Recreation Advisory Board said they were concerned the proposal was on the ropes after city commissioners last week agreed to cut $200,000 from the parks and recreation department budget — even though the cut came with a warning from the city manager that it would make future large-scale projects very difficult.

“It seems like short-sighted thinking at the moment,” said Jana Dobbs, chair of the city-appointed advisory board.

Commissioners agreed to the $200,000 cut as they struggled with ways to add police officers and provide city employees a raise without increasing property taxes.

Dobbs said she thinks the Parks and Recreation Department has been an easy cut for commissioners because the department performs well enough that the public hasn’t been demanding increases in services.

“When something is running smooth, you don’t hear a lot about it,” Dobbs said. “We have a lot of satisfied customers, which is great. But it is true that it is easy to grease the squeaky wheel.”

Parks and recreation staff members briefed the board on the latest budget issues. Ernie Shaw, interim director of parks and recreation, told the board that the staff believes a West Lawrence recreation center is still needed. The center, proposed for city-owned property near Sixth Street and Wakarusa Drive, would feature multiple gyms in a fieldhouse type of arrangement.

Shaw said gym space was critically low in the city, citing that competitive volleyball players now must travel outside of Lawrence to compete and that many youth basketball leagues consist only of six-game seasons because of the gym shortage.

But he also said he understands the financial pressures the city is facing.

“I think the public really just needs to let the commission know whether it thinks this is a need or not,” Shaw said. “If they do, great. If they don’t, that’s fine too. I just want to make sure there’s public input, and I’m not sure parks and recreation issues are generating much public comment right now.”

A formal proposal hasn’t been publicly presented to city commissioners yet. But officials have confirmed that a recreation center project likely would cost about $15 million. Officials also have confirmed that Kansas University basketball coach Bill Self’s foundation has an interest in donating to the project — likely $1 million from the foundation with Self helping to raise another $2 million in private donations.

Board members expressed concern that Self may choose to donate the money to other causes outside Lawrence, if the project is going to be delayed several years.

Shaw said the foundation has been good to work with and hasn’t made any demands, but he said he has not had detailed discussions with the group since news of the budget cuts came down last week.

“I do know they want a project they can sink their teeth into,” Shaw said of the foundation. “I think they were hoping it would be in Lawrence, but I know they have other options.”

City commissioners are set to finalize the 2012 budget on Aug. 2. They are expected to put a discussion of the recreation center project on a meeting sometime after the budget is finalized.


consumer1 6 years, 1 month ago

Good i am very happy the commission is using common sense and not caving to the few self serving loud mouthed. We all have to pay for this, and we don't need it!!!

Sharon Aikins 6 years ago

I know. It's much more important that we spend $18 million on a library expansion. Geesh, how dare they cry over $200,000?

Charles McPheeters 6 years ago

Not to worry the city fathers and community bigs know that SPORTS AND RECREATION are the most important thing to finance in this area.

conservative 6 years, 1 month ago

The time is not right for a large new expenditure for another rec center. Economy isn't right to be increasing taxes to give raises either.

LHS56 6 years, 1 month ago

Agree with the above. We need to start realizing the difference between wants and needs,

yourworstnightmare 6 years, 1 month ago

Headline: East Lawrence residents concerned that their property taxes are going to build sewers, roads, and infrastructure for west Lawrence above and beyond what west Lawrence property taxes can handle.

Sean Livingstone 6 years ago

Why is there a need to differentiate East and West Lawrence? Property prices on the West side are generally higher, and thus more property taxes are collected.

Melanie Birge 6 years, 1 month ago

Has anyone gone to other City's and seen all the New YMCA's that are with a large outdoor pool, gym's daycare cntrs? why not try for that?

kernal 6 years, 1 month ago

This has been discussed before, Ohyasee. Evidently, this town isn't large enough for a YMCA. Also, YMCA doesn't offer what West Lawrence wants. Never mind the rest of Lawrence. The kids who would really benefit from a rec center are the ones in East and Central Lawrence.

If we have young people who play competitive volleyball and a KU volleyball team, then don't FHS, LHS and KU have volleyball courts that can be used? Why aren't the middle and high school gyms being utilized when classes aren't in session?

Thats_messed_up 6 years, 1 month ago

kernal there are 19 Kansas City area YMCA locations including Osawatomie. There are 9 locations in Wichita area including ElDorado. Is Osawatomie bigger than Lawrence? Like 95% of LJW posters you don't know what you're talking about. There's no beautiful new YMCA facility in Lawrence like most other cities because Lawrence is run by liberal hippie idiots. Same reason we have only half a highway for more than 20 years. Same reason American Eagle is in Ottawa. Same reason the roads are all terrible. Same reason no major company would consider locating here.

Bob_Loblaw 6 years, 1 month ago

"...Board members expressed concern that Self may choose to donate the money to other causes outside Lawrence, if the project is going to be delayed several years..."

So the oh so generous Bill Self only gives money to create Rec Centers within a comfortable time frame (does he need the tax write-off)? That's not what I read here - I'm pretty certain that Lawrence STILL has plenty of other deserving outlets for his generosity towards our youth.

kernal 6 years, 1 month ago

The board members pretty much insulted Bill Self by stating that. Good grief!

News_to_me 6 years, 1 month ago

Amen, wants vs. needs. Perhaps those folks out in way west Lawrence could have a fundraiser to raise the money. Or open up the schools and make better use of the facilities we have. I want a new garage but I can't afford it. Maybe I'll just go ahead and build one anyway. What the heck. It's only other people's money

Moved_On 6 years, 1 month ago

Lawrence does not maintain any of the parks and recreation properties. There is no need to build more so they can be subject to the neglect. Fix the roads.

irvan moore 6 years, 1 month ago

there is no money for what we need, why are we talking about what we want?

George Lippencott 6 years, 1 month ago

Who is pushing for this thing?? Could it be our city manager??? Could it be developers who would benefit from the business?

I live out here and it is not the time to stick all citizens with such a bill. Use the revenue stream to reduce property taxes.

Cant_have_it_both_ways 6 years, 1 month ago

I fully agree, we should also stop the library/parking garage in its tracks.

George_Braziller 6 years ago

Bingo. You win.

"Could it be developers who would benefit from the business?"

roadwarrior 6 years, 1 month ago

agree with all. stop the library/parking garage. no rec center and do better, LOWER property taxes. great goal !!

del888 6 years, 1 month ago

Let's not forget that the people in West Lawrence had to cough up tax money to build the rec center east of 15th and Haskell. I agree the timing is not good, but the East Lawrence residents have nothing to complain about.

Sharon Aikins 6 years ago

It's sad that Lawrence always has that us versus them attitude. When will they realize that we are all one town. I was surprised it wasn't mentioned till the fourth comment.

Jstanobservation 6 years ago

We are not all one town.We are of the "Have " and the "Don't have quite so much"And maybe some"We don't have anything".otherwise we would not be considering putting "Meters" to help the homeless.I am sure they will get a lot of use from a rec center in west Lawrence.

George_Braziller 6 years ago

The "us versus them" attitude isn't anything new. If you read a little Lawrence history you will see that it has been going on since the late 1800s. The reasons for the split change over the decades but it has always been there. It's just becoming more pronounced now that the population has grown dramatically over the last 20 years.

glcookie06 6 years ago

I totally agree with the most of you...Everyone is more concerned about the EAST, West, and South of Lawrence....Don't the People in NORTH LAWERENCE COUNT? There's plenty of people traveling in and out of north lawrence that would love to have a grocery store, with a pharmacy,.. they all pay the same taxes as the rest of why should the rest of the town be complaining??? Who the heck wants to drive all the way south and west of town to walmart, dillions, hyvee? Come on people we all need to pull together and concentrate on north lawrence.....

windjammer 6 years ago

The last time I checked the city of Lawrence didn't own a Dillons,Hyvee, Walmart or pharmacy. And I've noticed most all of your streets have been upgraded. You have missed the point of the above story. If I remember you once had a grocery store but wouldn't support it.

Carol Bowen 6 years ago

We need a community policy that says donated money will go for the purpose, but not a specific site. A donation for one of the sports complexes raised similar concerns. If we really want equal facilities or intent, then we should not accept donations specifically targeted for the west side. I realize that there are other issues, but I'm posting this anyway.

kwilkins74 6 years ago why do we keep spending money on west Lawrence. Let's keep spending money on the west side and forget about the rest of the city. We must keep the "well off" folks happy while we ignore the rest of town. I'm sure there's a lot of other things we could spend that money on rather than making sure the "westies" don't have to leave their side of town.

lunacydetector 6 years ago

people in west lawrence won't vote for it because they pay the majority of the property taxes that service other parts of town. they're also smarter.

labmonkey 6 years ago

Good to see a redhead on the front page. JKealing, you've been listening. Keep up the good work.

nativeson 6 years ago

This is not an issue of East versus West. It is an issue of taking a sales tax passed in 1994 for use on recreation and continuing to reallocate it to other uses. Whether a rec center or another project, the intention was to provide these benefits in the future. That is not happening. In fairness, the sales tax should be recalled and voted on with a sunset clause.

As far as spending, the only facility built west of Lawrence Avenue for recreation is the indoor acquatic center that is shared with Free State High School. It simply does not stand up to fact that too much money has been spent in the west suburbs.

Kate Rogge 6 years ago

We don't need a west side recreation center in this recession. We need a mental health ward at the hospital and an SRS office in town. It's a crying shame Lawrence can't care for those in need.

Richard Heckler 6 years ago

There is one consequence that usually goes unmentioned - - - expanding the tax base is draining our pocketbooks and raising our taxes.

"Let's not forget that the people in West Lawrence had to cough up tax money to build the rec center east of 15th and Haskell. I agree the timing is not good, but the East Lawrence residents have nothing to complain about."

The East Lawrence Rec Center came in around $7 million. And was basically approved by taxpayers.

West Lawrence has wayyyyyyyy more miles of hike and bike trails and lovely wide sidewalks. City Hall refuses to balance the spending. Some Lawrence residential has been paying taxes for at least 100 years... where is the money. Every time a city offical retires the west side receives another hike and bike trail in honor of that official. George Williams got a street.

Why does West Lawrence need a $15 million rec center?

Lawrence is not short on gym space. Who decided Lawrence was short on gym space? The real estate industry?

Why not make more use of public school athletic space. After all USD 497 spent more than $20 million without voter approval.

Why do we need indoor climate controlled soccer fields considering soccer is an outdoor sport? That is very brown thinking. There is plenty of park and rec property for out door sports.

The economy is not showing signs of adequate growth and may not for years to come.

There is the Centennial Elementary School gym,East Heights school gym,Wakarusa Valley Elementary School Gym with plenty of room for soccer fields( sits on an estimated 10 acres)

The Lawrence,kansas powers that be have been cheering on the "expansion of the tax base" for at least 25 years. Yet after this perpetual expansion period OUR TAXES have never decreased but instead increased as a result of the expansion. It is safe to say the hard evidence is in and "expanding the tax base" theory is full of holes not a solid source of tax dollar revenue. We got duped!

There is one consequence that usually goes unmentioned - - - expanding the tax base is draining our pocketbooks and raising our taxes.

Alceste 6 years ago

It's beyond incredible that these wealthy, well-heeled, politically connected, removed from reality IDIOTS who live in East Topeka clamor about a "rec center"??? Talk about a sense of entitlement.

Alceste 6 years ago

Nope. That's day old stuff.....and I never get the Danish, high fructose corn syrup laden products.....I want the whole grain bread made with 100% whole wheat and honey with no additives. However, I can't ever get that whole grain bread because the "staff", who by and large live in East Topeka, steal the darn stuff. It's a cold world out there, not_holroyd. Cold.

LadyJ 6 years ago

sunflower-voter (anonymous) says… We don't need a west side recreation center in this recession. We need a mental health ward at the hospital and an SRS office in town. It's a crying shame Lawrence can't care for those in need.

Great comment. We may not be able to do anything about SRS, but we can do something about a mental health ward. LMH is not a private hospital, it is a city hospital. Lawrence could benefit greatly from a mental health ward. I would rather have had that than an 18 million dollar library expansion.

tkmoore 6 years ago

Raise taxes that will take care of it. Hey buy more land that is in bad shape and build another rec center. You will never learn glad in gone spend that money!!!!

Commenting has been disabled for this item.