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:
- City Commissioner Aron Cromwell
- William Beeson, loader for the sanitation division
- Suzi Cammon
- Joe Harkins, a Lawrence resident and longtime utility regulator
- Daniel Poull, member of the city’s sustainability advisory board
- Sam Porritt
- Ralph Reed
- Charlie Sedlock, an executive with Hamm Quarries, which provides landfill services to the city.
- Jeff Severin, director of Kansas University’s Environmental Sustainability Center
- Christine Tomlin
- 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 LJWorld.com.
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.