Archive for Monday, March 14, 2011

Town Talk: List of names for solid waste task force; golf/apartment project still on drawing board; Lawrence Association of Neighborhoods questions Chamber funding

March 14, 2011


News and notes from around town:

• Here is a group of folks who must like staying busy. City commissioners at their Tuesday evening meeting are set to appoint a new task force that will study the future of the city’s solid waste services. In other words, how we pick up trash, recycling and all that sort of stuff. The issue is expected to be a hot topic at City Hall for the better part of six months to a year. Here’s the list:

  1. City Commissioner Aron Cromwell
  2. William Beeson, loader for the sanitation division
  3. Suzi Cammon
  4. Joe Harkins, a Lawrence resident and longtime utility regulator
  5. Daniel Poull, member of the city’s sustainability advisory board
  6. Sam Porritt
  7. Ralph Reed
  8. Charlie Sedlock, an executive with Hamm Quarries, which provides landfill services to the city.
  9. Jeff Severin, director of Kansas University’s Environmental Sustainability Center
  10. Christine Tomlin
  11. Dan Wethington

The task force will met and make recommendations to city commissioners, who will have the final decision on how to structure the city’s trash service in the future.

• Last week’s Town Talk article about the new independent living facility being built at Sixth and Folks Road got me to wondering whether another previously-announced project designed to lure retirees is still in the works. In early 2008, city commissioners approved plans for a new nine-hole golf course and apartment development on about 80 acres just north of Sixth Street and west of Queens Road.

I caught up with a representative of Arkansas-based Lindsey Management Co. who said the company still wants to do the project, but no longer has a firm timeline for the project. The company did go ahead and finalize its option on the property, meaning it owns the 80 acres.

Kim Fugitt, a project manager with Lindsey, said the company is waiting on an improvement in the economy before committing to add apartments to the Lawrence market.

The project would be a big one in the Lawrence apartment market. As approved, the project would have 480 apartment units built around a nine-hole golf course. It also would have an impact on the city’s golf industry. Tenants of the apartments would be allowed to play the course without paying a greens fee. The course also would be open to the public for a fee.

Lindsey has built more than 30 of the golf/apartment complexes across the country.

• For those of you paying attention to the Lawrence City Commission race, a key voter forum is set for tonight. The Voter Education Coalition will host a forum at 7 tonight at City Hall. If you attend the event, you can submit a question. If you want to watch from the comfort of your home, you can do that too. The forum will be broadcast on Channel 25 on Knology cable system. Video of the forum also will be available after the event on

In addition to forums, it also is the season for candidate questionnaires. The League of Women Voters, the Lawrence Association of Neighborhoods, the unions for the police and fire, and several other groups have sent out questionnaires. I’ll try to work out a deal with the groups to allow us to post a link to the responses, so you can see what the candidates are saying to each group.

I saw the Lawrence Association of Neighborhood questionnaire. It contained the expected questions about rental registration programs, party houses, and ways to improve neighborhood participation in the city’s planning process. But there was one question that caught my attention more than others. LAN obviously has some questions about whether the city ought to be paying the Lawrence Chamber of Commerce to conduct economic development work for the city. It was an interesting question that read like this: “The Chamber of Commerce, a business advocacy organization, receives over $200,000 of taxpayer money from the city for economic development planning activities. Would the city be better served if these activities were performed by planners working for the City and answering to the City Commission rather than a business advocacy organization?” I’ll watch for those answers.

By the way, the Journal-World did send out a questionnaire several weeks ago. We’ve used the responses to build our Candidate Selector feature on our election page.


irvan moore 7 years, 2 months ago

isn't having a city commissioner on a task force that will make recommendations to the city commission a conflict of interest or at very least a really bad idea?

James Mullins 7 years, 2 months ago

Cromwell is sold out to the city employees who are overpaid compared to other solid waste employees in Kansas.

vermont 7 years, 2 months ago

I agree with the asking of this question 1000%. We need to look at creating positions with the city and leaving the Chamber of Commerce out of the mix. The Lawrence Chamber sits idle and takes on a very passive role in community growth. Mixers, small events, ribbon cuttings, etc. are nice little ways to find more people to walk into your law office, bank or shop but not worth the $200,000 in taxpayer dollars for "economic growth." We should look for smarter ways to spend this money than to have the Chamber running around opening doors for prospective businesses. I'd like to see what the Chamber has done and is doing to bring more business to Lawrence.

Richard Heckler 7 years, 2 months ago

The Chamber of Commerce brought PLAY to the forefront without telling taxpayers it was going to be financed through USD 497 WITHOUT a vote by taxpayers. Yes the USD 497 reckless spending fiasco aka the never ending sports project spending.

The Chamber of Commerce has a narrow vision that being real estate sales. Then again the Real Estate movers and shakers make up the C of C movers and shakers all of which like to get into OUR bank accounts by way of our tax dollars. Never does the media talk about this.

It's how tax dollars are spent and if how they are spent does it increase taxes?

It's a lot about how taxpayers are left out of very large tax dollar spending decisions at all levels of local government.

For instance the $100 million dollar sewage plant should be approved by the voters because local special interests are driving the issue for their own personal profiteering. Do taxpayers want to spend $100,000,000(million) that will only bring on more new tax dollar expenses?

There is one consequence that usually goes unmentioned by the local media,city hall and elected officials - local profiteers are draining our pocketbooks and raising our taxes.

NOT necessary city growth is the result of over several decades of subsidies paid for by the local taxpayer. These range from the obvious to the obscure and include big projects-like the billions we spend on new roads as well as smaller ones-like the tax-breaks that encourage businesses to move to the edge of town and KILL downtown.

We've subsidized local profiteers aka tax dollar moochers at such a basic level for so long, that many people believe the status quo is actually fair and neutral. This is false-what we think of as a level playing field is tilted steeply in favor of local profiteers driving development.

How we subsidize profiteers aka tax dollar moochers: building new and wider roads building schools on the fringe extending sewer and water lines to not necessary development extending emergency services to the fringe

  • direct pay-outs to developers - for example developers of the new building at 9th and New Hampshire are demanding taxpayers furnish their tenants with parking spaces built with our tax dollars. Why should we taxpayers pick up that tab?

Richard Heckler 7 years, 2 months ago

Those who do not "believe" the market is over built or say we should not be concerned about concerns of an over built market should not be on OUR tax dollar payroll. That is reckless economics. Too many including the Chamber of Commerce say they "think" the market is not flooded.

What taxpaying voters should be hearing is the Chamber and the candidates DO NOT KNOW whether or not our market is over built. The city hired Placemakers to evaluate Lawrence and one of their staff people pointed out that Lawrence was over built in retail by 30%. Lawrence did not curtail new construction.

There are tools to determine whether or not Lawrence is over built. Over and over I am told Lawrence would never hire someone that would say Lawrence retail is over built.

This community can no longer afford economic displacement that which is the result of an over built community.

Every community has only so many retail dollars to work with no more no less. Once the markets become saturated every retail operation is then pulling retail dollars from the same pie. It's like borrowing from Peter to pay Paul. More new retail operations do NOT magically create more retail dollars..... never has never will.

Once the market is over saturated all retail operations suffer and so do we taxpayers because these new operations are NOT paying their own way. Local taxpayers make up the difference with a variety of fee and tax increases.

What retail stores and projects has failed in Lawrence? Not enough dollars in Lawrence! Baur Farms "New Urbanism" - never happened it was all talk. Abercrombie and Fitch Borders Talbots Liz Claiborn The Riverfront Mall shops Tanger Mall shops Eddie Bauer numerous restaurants K-Mart There are NEW vacancies that have never been filled Lands End at Sears Lawrence cannot support a camera shop Arensberg Shoes Johnson Bros Furniture Everything but ICE * what have I forgotten is more like it....

If the Lawrence market had never ending access to retail dollars these names would still be in business. Lawrence is not the market to compete with KCMO/JOCO metro,Topeka metro,Olathe or Legends. Lawrence is surrounded by retail providing way more choices within reasonable driving distance.

I say education(VoTech/business college/private design school) and bicycle competition should be the focus.

ralphralph 7 years, 2 months ago

The Answer = More undisclosed "sales taxes" and "adjustments"

All you have to do is screw more unwitting fools out of more money.

Richard Heckler 7 years, 2 months ago

If corp america wants to do business with the taxpayers all CEO's and BOD's must cut their wages by 75% NOW.

Shareholders will need to take a cut as well.

Corp america must eliminate golden parachutes and stock options.

gl0ck0wn3r 7 years, 2 months ago

You really just don't have a clue do you?

Flap Doodle 7 years, 2 months ago

You know what ? I'd swear I saw this very same post on at least two other threads today. You've getting lazy, merrill. That is dumb and irresponsible!!!

Commenting has been disabled for this item.