News and notes from around town:
• UPDATE: Well, here’s a new twist for those of you following the issue of whether the city ought to build a new $15 million recreation center in West Lawrence. It now appears that the YMCA has some interest in being in the Lawrence market. A pair of members from the city’s Parks and Recreation Advisory Board said today that they have been approached by a regional representative of YMCA to discuss how that non-profit perhaps could partner with the city on a new West Lawrence recreation center. The chair and vice chair of the advisory board and city staff members are scheduled to meet with the YMCA folks next week. From what I hear, the YMCA isn’t necessarily interested in building a new center in Lawrence, but would be interested in running a new facility in partnership with the city. That potentially could save the city some money on operational costs. Parks and Recreation leaders said they are willing to listen to the YMCA, but likely would have several questions about the feasibility of such a partnership. (Like what would dues be, what impact would the YMCA have on other recreation classes across the city, and do you have to dress up as a police man, a cowboy and a construction worker and sing that odd song?) The idea, however, isn’t unheard of. The parks and recreation department of Platte County, Mo., has formed a similar partnership with the YMCA. A representative of Platte County is expected to attend next week’s staff meeting to discuss how that has worked. Lawrence city commissioners at their meeting tonight are expected to have their most significant discussion yet about the idea of building a new $15 million recreation center. Commissioners will consider creating a formal agreement with Bill Self’s Assists Foundation that could help with some private fundraising for a recreation center/fieldhouse facility.
• After a week off, I greet you with a punch. Lawrence real estate broker Doug Brown of McGrew Commercial confirmed to me that he’s brokered a deal for Punch Boxing and Fitness to open in the former Googols of Fun space at Sixth and Wakarusa. The news definitely reinforces the idea that boxing as a form of fitness is a new trend in Lawrence. Previously we reported that Title Boxing Club is moving into a spot near Bob Billings Parkway and Wakarusa. Punch currently operates a gym in Shawnee. This one in Lawrence will be large, at a little more than 11,000 square feet. Brown said the facility really will be both a boxing facility and a traditional health club. In addition to having a full-size boxing ring, punching bag and speed bag areas, the gym also will have a traditional cardio and weight room area. According to its Web site — which already is set up to take memberships for the Lawrence location — the business offers both boxing-oriented fitness classes as well as yoga, pilates, weightlifting, and speed and agility training. Brown is estimating an opening near the first of the year. I’ll check in with the owners, and let you know if I find out more. I also have found the info on the franchisee for the Title Boxing location as well, so I’ll check in there too. After a week at home on vacation, my wife is encouraging me to dive into the world of boxing — sans headgear, of course.
• By far, the most asked question I got in my house during my week’s “staycation” was: “Why are you still here?” (If I got a dollar for every time either my wife — or now even my 5-year-old daughter — asked that question I wouldn’t have to come back to this job.) Well, I’m still here, but I can tell you one thing that is not: Smashburger. I received word from the company’s public relations agency that its Lawrence store closed last week. The Smashburger became one of the first tenants at the Bauer Farm development at Sixth and Wakarusa, but evidently the concept did not catch on as well as company officials had hoped. It looks like that is the case elsewhere in Kansas as well. The company this summer also closed locations in Derby and Wichita. The Lawrence closing, though, won’t do much to damage the area’s standing as a major food court for nearby Free State High. As we have previously reported, a Burger King is under construction in Bauer Farms, between Wakarusa and Folks.
• Warm up your Happy Birthday voice. (And while you’re at it, drop down and give me 20, you dirtbags.) That’s right, it is time for the annual birthday celebration of the Marine Corps. A group of Lawrence Marines, veterans and friends will hold a public celebration of the Marine Corps’ 236th anniversary at 10:30 a.m. on Thursday at the Dole Institute of Politics, 2350 Petefish Drive. The event will feature a presentation from Marine Col. Mike McCoy, director of the U.S. Marine Corps Group at the Army Command and General Staff College at Fort Leavenworth. The Lawrence High School Chorale also will perform. This will be the 20th year that local residents have banded together to celebrate the Marine Corps anniversary. In addition to singing and a featured speaker, the event also includes free cake. (That’s right, dear, free cake. Break out your camouflage party hat.)