Archive for Wednesday, October 5, 2011

City sewer project in North Lawrence sparks controversy

At an open house at Lawrence Municipal Airport, visitors were treated to the display of several vintage and modern aircraft  as well as the spruced up facility. Federal funds coming to Kansas are responsible for a new, longer runway at the airport.

At an open house at Lawrence Municipal Airport, visitors were treated to the display of several vintage and modern aircraft as well as the spruced up facility. Federal funds coming to Kansas are responsible for a new, longer runway at the airport.

October 5, 2011

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A deep hole in North Lawrence can get kind of tricky.

City-hired contractors are finding that out at the Lawrence Municipal Airport, and their work is creating concern from North Lawrence residents about possible flooding and a loss of valuable groundwater in the area.

City officials recently confirmed that a project to expand the sewer service at the airport — which would allow for greater development on the airport property — has encountered some major hurdles that have put the project months over budget. City officials also confirmed that the digging operations of the project are creating concern among some area landowners that their groundwater wells will be harmed by the project.

“We’re in full support of trying to grow development out here,” said Brian Pine, a member of Pine Family Farms, which relies on groundwater wells for many of its business operations. “But I think a little more thought was needed from the city on this project.”

The issue centers on the fact that when you dig a deep hole in North Lawrence, you get a lot of water in that hole because of its proximity to the Kansas River. The sewer project involves digging a 28-foot hole to bury an underground sewage storage tank. But construction crews hired by the city are finding that the amount of water pouring into the hole has far exceeded their expectations.

So far, crews have installed seven temporary wells around the hole in an effort to de-water it. That has concerned Pine and others. Pine said there is a fear the new wells will start drawing groundwater from wells that are on his family’s property, which is adjacent to the airport.

The project also has created concerns for the leader of the North Lawrence Improvement Association. That’s because the water being pumped from the hole is being pumped into the Maple Grove tributary, which eventually flows into a pump station on North Second Street. That pump station is critical to controlling stormwater flooding during heavy rains, said Ted Boyle, president of the North Lawrence neighborhood group. Boyle said the pump station already is near its capacity during rains, and the additional water flowing into it will create an unneeded strain.

“They need to keep a close eye on that pump station, and they say they will,” Boyle said.

City engineers said the project — which began in early May — is not ideal, but is manageable. Philip Ciesielski, assistant director of the city’s utilities department, said city officials are keeping a close eye on the weather so that the pumps can be shut off if there is a threat of a large rain storm that would tax the North Lawrence pump station. Crews also are pumping water at a measured pace to ensure that the Maple Grove tributary itself doesn’t become flooded.

As for the concern that the temporary wells will take water from adjacent private wells, Ciesielski noted that the proper state agency has issued permits for the project.

“My judgment would be that we’re not,” Ciesielski said when asked if he thought the temporary wells were impacting nearby private wells. “But I’m hanging that on the fact the state has reviewed what we’re doing in that location and they have issued a permit for it.”

But neither the city nor its contractor — Topeka-based Schmidtlein Excavating — knows how much longer they’ll have to pump to get the hole de-watered.

“The dewatering conditions are way beyond what we ever envisioned,” said Tom Flynn, a project manager for Schmidtlein. “I’m talking to a geologist to try to figure out how to best address it.”

At the moment, the city is contending that the problems with the project won’t cost the city more money. Ciesielski said the city’s position is that the contractor was provided with a soil boring and other data that fairly represented the amount of water they would encounter. The city expects Schmidtlein to honor its bid of $411,000 to complete the project.

Flynn said he was not prepared to issue a comment on that matter.

Comments

Bob Forer 3 years, 9 months ago

“They need to keep a close eye on that pump station, and they say they will,” Boyle said.

I am sure the city's will be eyes wide open when an unannounced flood destroys a few North Lawrence homes.

Not to worry, though. In the eyes of the city leadership, those folks don't really count. After all, its North Lawrence (code word for working and poor people).

gatekeeper 3 years, 9 months ago

I just love how everyone stereotypes the residents of N. Lawrence. Hmmmm, working and poor people you say? My husband and I are both professionals. My neighbor owns his own company. I'm sure the state trooper that lives on my block will be glad to hear he's just poor, working class.

N. Lawrence isn't just a bunch of blue collar, poor people. Maybe some of you should come over every once in a while to check out the neighborhood. I know it's hard to imagine, but there are a lot of nice homes and a lot of great people. Many of us chose to live there because of the people. Just like many other neighborhoods in Lawrence, it's a mix of blue and white color workers and families.

Yes, the city ignores N. Lawrence. it's because we're a small neighborhood and we're not west of Kasold. The city really only seems to care about the neighborhoods out west. Used to live there. Never again.

Bob Forer 3 years, 9 months ago

Don't be defensive. I live there. Fact remains, the majority of folks are not as wealthy as those in other parts of town.

Calm town and take a valium.

George_Braziller 3 years, 9 months ago

People do the same stereotyping about residents of East Lawrence. It isn't anything new. North Lawrence and East Lawrence have been viewed as "seedy" for nearly a century.

nedcolt 3 years, 9 months ago

Thats ironic about messing up groundwater coming from pine family,,,they spray everything ditch to ditch destroying everything living,,oh well the new farming methods..............

Tammy Copp-Barta 3 years, 9 months ago

And wasn't an issue when Roger was supporting selling all that property and supporting the projects out there.

leftylucky 3 years, 9 months ago

There was a soil problem when the juvenile detention center was being built. There was a problem when the north Lawrence pump station on 2nd street was 500,000 dollars over budget.

cowboy 3 years, 9 months ago

Who are the engineers who planned this ? Do tell

Carol Bowen 3 years, 9 months ago

Probably Black & Veatch. They seem to design most of Lawrence's projects.

Richard Heckler 3 years, 9 months ago

Growth no matter the cost to landowners and taxpayers is the city hall guideline.

Wayne Propst 3 years, 9 months ago

Roger pine voted illegally....so that he could hire himself while on the drainage commission....now he and familly are worried about drainage...you can't make this stuff up....

LadyJ 3 years, 9 months ago

I won't be happy if my flood insurance rates go up because our flood area rating changes because of this. Does having to buy flood insurance figure into our property taxes at all?

Richard Heckler 3 years, 9 months ago

Does having to buy flood insurance figure into our property taxes at all?

Probably not. If the area becomes evermore flood prone because of more concrete and rooftops then what?

Richard Heckler 3 years, 9 months ago

If the area becomes evermore flood prone because of more concrete and rooftops the property could become worth less??????

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