Archive for Thursday, September 1, 2011

Duty calls ­— Lawrence school district to install restrooms at LHS, Free State ballfields

September 1, 2011


Because available bathrooms are too far from the new Lawrence High School baseball field, the school district now must build some restrooms at the LHS baseball complex. The question is where will the money come from.

Because available bathrooms are too far from the new Lawrence High School baseball field, the school district now must build some restrooms at the LHS baseball complex. The question is where will the money come from.

Score this one an E-$300,000.

The Lawrence school district is bracing to spend an unexpected $300,000 to comply with building codes regarding installation of permanent seating for baseball at Free State and Lawrence high schools.

The district already is spending nearly $500,000 to install bleachers at the two stadiums and other athletics venues at the two schools, but district administrators had been unaware of the need to install permanent restrooms serving the fields.

That all changed in recent weeks, as the bleachers were being installed. Permanent seating triggers a need for permanent restrooms within 500 feet, according to the city’s building code, and such facilities do not exist at either site.

So now district administrators are going back to their master plans, meeting with architects and contacting potential donors — all to put together construction plans for next summer. Until then, expect temporary, portable toilets to be on site for the spring season.

The district anticipates spending no more than $150,000 at each site, using money available for capital improvement projects such as replacing boilers, repairing roofs, resurfacing parking lots and the like throughout all district buildings and schools.

Adding restrooms at the fields isn’t on the district’s properties list, which envisions $10.8 million worth of work to be financed by a budget with only $2.6 million in discretionary funding for the coming year.

“When we look at this, it’s completing the commitment that was made several years ago for the completion of these athletics complexes,” said Kyle Hayden, who started this past summer as the district’s chief operations officer. “That means seeing it through, to meet the requirements that the city has. That’s just a responsibility that the administration and the board want to adhere to and, again, see the project through.”

Construction of the complexes started in 2008, with plans to spend $9 million for building on-campus football stadiums and making other upgrades for outdoor sports. By 2010, the bills had increased to at least $15 million.

Donations helped cover some expenses at Free State, including expansion of a concessions building and other material upgrades at the stadium. At Lawrence High a donor group — LHS Building on Traditions — has been raising money to add ticket booths and make other upgrades, while the district has financed construction of new concessions stands.

Bleachers always were in the plans for baseball and soccer fields at both schools, plus softball at Free State. The Lawrence school board approved those plans earlier this year.

But the plans did not include bathrooms for baseball at either school, something that became evident when city inspectors did the math and determined the permanent bleachers at the Lawrence High field were 600 feet from the district’s available restrooms, inside the Adult Learning Center, formerly Centennial School.

That’s too far, especially with fans looking for alternatives such as cutting through a fence to get into an adjacent shopping area that is home to Panera Bread, DonDon and Mr. Goodcents.

“As long as it was just the athletics facility, and kids were out there playing and a few parents sitting around in lawn chairs, it was kind of: They’d need to figure that out on their own,” said Barry Walthall, the city’s building safety manager. “As soon as they go to permanent seating, part of the requirement for permanent seating is to provide the plumbing fixtures. That’s to avoid people ducking over to neighboring businesses or whatever.”

Hayden said that the district likely would build permanent restrooms between the baseball field and tennis courts at Lawrence High, and between the baseball and softball fields at Free State. Each building also likely will include a small concessions area, a ticket booth and storage space.

The district plans to defray its costs somewhat by using money offered by LHS Building on Traditions, which already planned to finance construction of a ticket booth for baseball at Lawrence High. There’s also hope that the Lawrence Tennis Association or even the city of Lawrence might be able to contribute money, because the restrooms at Lawrence High also would be available for members of the public who use the tennis courts.

“We’re exploring all options to help with funding,” said Rick Doll, district superintendent.


CHEEZIT 6 years, 8 months ago

The whole situation is ridicullous!! Took the bleachers away at LHS for graduation so no seats during summer ball and now a pile of dirt waiting for stone for who knows how long. Can't use the lights heaven for bid. Can't see the scoreboard when watching from the home side!!! I could go on and on. P.P.P.!!!

Martha Oldham 6 years, 8 months ago

I hate the scoreboard. Why don't they fix it right!

Clovis Sangrail 6 years, 8 months ago

$300,000 for new crappers for baseball. Meanwhile the choir kids are selling cookie dough and the drama kids are paying for their own costume rental.

50YearResident 6 years, 8 months ago

These football fields have been a nightmare. For the amount spent the school district could have continued to use Haskell Stadium for a couple hundred years. Heads should roll for building these two fields.

rats 6 years, 8 months ago

Bravo. At that age one student activity is as legitimate as another. The few but loud sports freaks (a few parents and alums, who probably give lots of money for no good reason to KU) shout that no, sports are more special than anything else imaginable. It is a symptom of how sick our society is. Where are the parents supporting music, or painting, or good clear effective writing? No, it is all about throwing / kicking balls, and chasing balls. This was an indication of social disease in Greek and Aztec society. Whee! Let's support kicking / chasing balls and buying more t-shirts!

Sneakyperson 6 years, 8 months ago

still bitter about having to compensate??

redneck 6 years, 8 months ago

"The question is where will the money come from." I'm not real sharp, but I'm pretty sure the tooth fairy isn't going to pay it. LOL

Scott Morgan 6 years, 8 months ago

BTW.......the whole pooper story can go away if the city just gave the schools a pass on compliance. We are in a terrible economy and looking at restrooms @ 300K. At least a Free State one can use the Aquatic Center. Not the pool, but the restrooms.

I played ball at a high level but feel the same way as 50 and rats. Sad to see great other activity young people so obviously given second level status on what is essentially a non profit situation. High school football in Kansas is a cost to a school district. No different than band or theatre.

C’mon folks draining the lizard in a plastic jon is part of high school ball.

In other words, some sports in college due pay the cost. College football for instance, hoops at KU, but not at schools like U of Nebraska.

boxers_or_briefs 6 years, 8 months ago

The Lawrence Indoor Aquatic Center is owned by the city not the school district. The school district just uses it.

50YearResident 6 years, 8 months ago

Tell me why there were no restroom facilities provided when these fields were built. Very few people can sit through a whole football game without at least one restroom break. It looks like either very poor planning or it was intended to be a surprise later because there was no money for restrooms at the time. So, go ahead and build it now, spring the restroom ammenities later. No one will complain because they will have had one year to squirm in the stands. Good logic? You tell me.

LHS56 6 years, 8 months ago

Really one of my "hot buttons." As noted earlier the total cost was to be nine million. Through some creative accounting/legal work a nine million dollar lease appeared that allowed the cost to ballon. I still would like to know what assest the School District is leasing for one million dollars a year. And building improvements without restrooms?...and not complying to City Code? Makes one wonder where the architect's or construction manager's head was. I agree sports are an important part of the high school education. As are debate, chior, chess club, etc. important parts. We could have installed new restrooms and an artifical field at Haskell and received at 25 plus year lease for less than three million. Ohhh...and we know that we are going to need a third high school within ten years. So...another ten plus million for athletic improvements? Johnson County schools share facilities. New sports complexes....we need to learn the difference between need and want.

George_Braziller 6 years, 8 months ago

Contact Tom Bracciano, He's the operations and facility planning director for the Lawrence school district.

I did some accessibility surveys for the school district many years ago and he was very receptive to the ideas, He made sure the changes were done and even had me come back to check that things were done correctly,

I'm not sure what has happened with him recently. Something has changed. He's not the guy I once knew.

Scott Morgan 6 years, 8 months ago

Many people working with tax money do feel for the taxpayers. Good grief, 300K to be used so little, then using tennis players pee-pee needs as an excuse.

Was trying to think of something funny to add, but really this is just so sad. Really, our city, our buildings and somebody claims the aquatic center johns are off limits.

Yet, we have people out there stating we need to raise taxes. How about instead of finding places for 'going to be laid off teachers without a class' and calling them coaches,,,,, we start a program to bring back retired outstanding teachers as coaches.

How about 300K worth of scholarships for college students working to improve the economy of our state? How about hiring a real road building crew to build a mile or so of a solid lasting surface. Then we can show our city leaders a road can be built without digging into it after a year.

300k for toilets in this economy. Wozer.

notanoobhere 6 years, 8 months ago

The football grandstand alone should get the school board fired. A stone grandstand to sit on, that will be nice when it gets chilly, not to mention the cost of maintaining the pile of rock. Power washing to remove mildew, weeding the elm trees that pop up every week and the lake that is forming under the east side stands at LHS will lift the whole thing off the foundation when it freezes (FYI water expands when frozen) , and all the replacement blocks that will need to be installed every year from, once again our friend water. The architect who designed this has no real world application in spectator seating and obviously has a in with some of the school board members who have no problem spending the property tax dollars of our home owners. LHS football stadium came in at 4 million, thats right 4 million over budget, and the school board approved the same design for the baseball field, hooray more upkeep costs for the school district. This school board should be fired dont vote a single member back to the board next election they are morons. Oh and the soccer fields aluminum bleachers will last a hundred years without any upkeep.


Your local bleacher installer and lawrence native.

Richard Heckler 6 years, 8 months ago

The PLAY Concept originated at the local Chamber of Commerce which has infiltrated the school board. Tom Bracciano was quoted as saying this was a part of PLAY. Duped again by the local Chamber of Commerce coming through the back door.

USD 497 taxpayers were not given the opportunity to vote on this matter because the USD 497 BOE knew this projected would get run out of town. So the USD 497 BOE discovered a way to get around the voters. When ask why they chose to avoid the voting taxpayers the reply: "Because we could" ...

olddesk 6 years, 8 months ago

Just another reason why the BOE members and their yes people given high positions should be run out of town and start over with real parents that have real concerns about the city and the kids instead of their careers and status at the local country club.

pace 6 years, 8 months ago

Sport nuts think the corrupt games of today are worth any price. I think highschool sports hurt more kids than help. Permanent injuries, then add the moola spent on select few instead of smaller classroom size and teachers. Sports in America isn't for fun.

purplesage 6 years, 8 months ago

Who messed up? Architechts? Why didn't the building code pests call this to someone's attention when permits were granted? Someone in the design phase of these projects should have known this. It is what they are paid handsome fees to do. Those fields are near to the school buildings. The school buildings have bathrooms. Sounds like a low cost answer to me.

budwhysir 6 years, 8 months ago

unexpected???? No thats not the phrase that should be used. The correct term would be unannounced. All projects that are completed properly, the list includes a spot for unexpected or surprise expenses.

KU_Dude 6 years, 8 months ago

jkealing (Jonathan Kealing) says…

bronze- I've warned you privately, now I'll warn you publicly. You do not have bearded_gnome's name correct. If you don't immediately cease to attempt to out an anonymous user, your account will be banned. In addition, I will immediately ban any account I suspect to be created by you without notice, warning or further cause. This is your final warning. Jonathan Kealing Online editor

––––– How has ecologicalarchitect lasted this long Jonathan?

aka: DonJuan, susanneg, Bronze, Coltrane, Spiderman, Cool...and many other forgetable names.

Cogito_Ergo_Es 6 years, 8 months ago

"The district anticipates spending no more than $150,000 at each site, using money available for capital improvement projects such as replacing boilers, repairing roofs, resurfacing parking lots and the like throughout all district buildings and schools."

Isn't this the same pot of money that the board needs to spend on the deferred maintenance that needs to be done on the elementary schools? Isn't this the same money that could be used for a new roof at Kennedy or part of an elevator at Cordley? Oh well, if they run out they can always float a bond issue and take more of our tax money. Or wait! We could just close those schools that need work then we'll have plenty of capital funds for putting into the athletic fields!

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