Archive for Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Advisory board mulls plan for fee-based rec reation center

September 14, 2011


Forget stretching. Step No. 1 in working out at a proposed west Lawrence recreation center may be to reach for your wallet.

Members of the city’s Parks and Recreation Advisory Board on Tuesday brainstormed about ways to make a proposal to build a new northwest Lawrence recreation center more politically palatable to city leaders.

One idea that emerged is that users — at least all adult users — would have to buy a membership in order to use the facility’s gym, weight room, track and other amenities.

“My concept is that adults would pay for admittance to the facility, but that would be a different philosophy than we have at other recreation centers, and it would require a good City Commission discussion about the issue,” said City Manager David Corliss.

There is much about the recreation center project that will require a City Commission discussion — starting with whether commissioners think the city can afford the project at the moment.

Thus far, city commissioners have taken no action to move forward on the idea of building a new recreation center/fieldhouse/wellness center on city-owned land just north of the Walmart at Sixth Street and Wakarusa Drive. City parks and recreation leaders have been advocating for the project for years — citing a serious lack of indoor gym space for programming — and the foundation of Kansas University men’s basketball coach Bill Self has expressed an interest in partnering with the city.

The city’s Parks and Recreation Advisory Board has asked for a study session with city commissioners to discuss the future of the project and other parks and recreation funding issues. On Tuesday, the board was preparing for that study session, which is expected to occur in late October.

Board members were told that one of the first items the group likely will need to tackle is to decide what type of facility they want to ask commissioners to fund.

The project previously has been billed as everything from a traditional recreation center to a fieldhouse with multiple gyms to a wellness center that teaches people how to live healthier.

John Wilkins, an architect with Lawrence’s Gould Evans, presented several concept plans for a new center, but said it would be difficult to include all of the items originally envisioned for a price tag of $15 million or less, which is an amount city officials previously have said is the upper limit of what the city could fund without raising sales or property taxes.

Wilkins showed concept plans that estimated $20 million to $22 million the city could spend to build six oversized gyms, a gymnastics room, dance and aerobics classrooms, a weight and cardio workout area, a quarter-mile walking track on a mezzanine level, and special wellness area that could include classrooms, a demonstration kitchen and other features.

For about $17 million to $20 million, the city could build the same project except with five gyms instead of six. But Wilkins said that to get below $15 million, the city likely would need to choose whether to build a traditional recreation center, such as the East Lawrence Center or Holcom, or to concentrate on building a fieldhouse facility that would house multiple gyms and might make the city attractive to out-of-town basketball, volleyball and other tournaments.

For about $13 million to $15 million, Wilkins estimated the city could build a fieldhouse-style facility that would have five gyms, an upper-level cardio room and an indoor walking track on a mezzanine level. But the facility would not have an area for gymnastics, any wellness classrooms or dedicated space for dance and aerobics classes, although gym space could be used for those purposes if the space were available.

Parks and Recreation board members also were told that annual operational expenses for a new recreation center/fieldhouse could be about $500,000 per year and would involve hiring four new full-time employees and several part-time staff members.

Corliss said the city likely would have to look for ways to include that $500,000 into existing funding sources because he does not think it is likely the project would succeed if it required a sales or property tax increase.

As for the construction of the building, Corliss’ office previously has proposed funding the center with dollars that currently are being used to pay off the city’s indoor aquatic center, the Lawrence-Douglas County Health Department building and the Eagle Bend Golf Course. All those projects will be paid for by 2016.


conservative 4 years, 2 months ago

First off in this economic climate we don't need a new 15 or 20 million dollar rec center. Second if we do build it then it needs to be set up in the same manner as the other ones in regards to fees. Either make it so that there is a fee for use of the equipment at all of them or at none of them. Just because a family lives closer to the West rec center doesn't mean in addition to paying taxes they should also pay extra for the same ammenities as the rest of the city.

patkindle 4 years, 2 months ago

i think it would be best if you want to play, you need to pay your own way

if something isn't important enough that folks want to fund it from thier own pocket, it doesnt seem to have much merit

I am sure a lot of legitimate taxpayers are going weary of hearing It is only 3 dollars per day, or 6 dollars per week, or 20 dollars per year,

a 17 million dollar library, a 6 million dollar theater, and a 15 million dollar rec center is appealing, but mostly to the folks that want everyone else (but not them) to pay for it.

A lot of us are already stretched thin, and have cut back On our spending, what makes it ok for the bleeding hearts to Sit around and think of ways to Spend our money for us??

beaujackson 4 years, 2 months ago

The "City" could take over EVERY business in Lawrence and cut prices in half.

Hello, Komrad !!

kshiker 4 years, 2 months ago

If they are going to charge user fees for the new recreation center, then fees should also apply to the other recreation centers in the city as well. I have been a resident for the last 11 years and, the last time I checked, have been paying taxes to support the city's existing recreation facilities even though they are too far away from my house for me to practically use. I am assuming this advisory board is dominated by appointees from east and central Lawrence.

flyin_squirrel 4 years, 2 months ago

How does a rec center cost between $15 and $22 million, yet the Berry Plastics building that just broke ground is a QUARTER MILE LONG, and is only $20 mil? The Berry Plastics building is 675,000 square feet (a football field is 57,600 square feet including endzones) for $20 million, yet we cannot build a building with 6 basketball courts for under $20 million!

Something just doesn't make sense here...

middlemgmt 4 years, 2 months ago

We absolutely need a rec center on the west side. There is not enough gym space in Lawrence to allow for enough team sports such as basketball and volleyball for the kids. Each year MANY kids are left out of Hoopsters because each grade can only have six teams. The gym space does not allow for any more than that. Factor in that Bill Self wants to donate funds toward construction, and we have an ever greater incentive to act.

flyin_squirrel 4 years, 2 months ago

Agree we need one, I just don't understand where these numbers are coming from when the government builds something (such as an $18 mil library), yet the private sector can build a 675,000 square foot building for $20 mil....

Carol Bowen 4 years, 2 months ago

If there are fees for one rec center, there should be fees for all rec centers. And all the rec centers should be equally attractive, rather than the most attention paid to the newest center. If we can afford to pull money from the existing budget, then why aren't we taking better care of the existing parks and rec centers? And, why aren't we concentrating on other recreation- say toddler lots, miniature golf, roller/ice skating? Not everyone wants to go to a gym, weight room, or track.

Those are my questions. However, Bill Self should partner with the YMCA or the YWCA. Six gyms is way beyond the calling of a city parks and rec department.

Richard Heckler 4 years, 2 months ago

This is another Chamber of Commerce idea to blow our tax dollars.

What is it about moving outdoor sporting programs into climate controlled buildings = tons of energy use and wasteful.

Again this is more about selling homes on the westside than it is about Wellness. No other neighborhood has such a facility.

Ever heard of PLAY? This one more phase of a $50 million PLAY projects that has cost the taxpayers $20 million in USD 497 tax dollars thus far. The spending is ongoing. This was all about wellness etc etc etc. Taxpayers already said NO!

Asking for memberships eh? I say that is a move to pull the wool over the taxpayers eye's into thinking users will pay this debt off. It's a snow job.

This same tax dollar source could have been applied to the new library and still could thus eliminating the tax increase.

Richard Heckler 4 years, 2 months ago

If the city is interested in spending another $15-$20 million why not offer up work out sets to each single family dwelling live in homeowner? This way far more taxpayers will benefit from this Wellness concept. After using the workout set homeowners can step outside for nice power walk.

• Receive request from John McGrew, of Outside for a Better Inside, for a discussion about a wellness campus, complete with pond and walking trail. This request took place before city commissioners with John McGrew and two Chamber reps. This is a tax dollar heist aka pork barrel spending for housing industry that is still moving slow as molasses.

How about nice wide sidewalks with chin up bars and push up spaces along the way throughout Lawrence,Kansas? I’ve seen this done. Drinking water sources too. Bench seats along the way. Low budget yet useful and practical.

Richard Heckler 4 years, 2 months ago

Who will use this monster expensive building? With all due respect a climate controlled building/campus is not necessary and very expensive. Keep people outdoors. Again if the city is interested in spending another $15-$20 million why not offer up work out sets to each single family dwelling live in homeowner?

For another thought I say fix and widen the sidewalks in older Lawrence neighborhoods to promote walking and biking. We know tons of people use these outdoor neighborhood walkways = smart investment. People from all points of town walk and bike… young and old alike. This is everyday of the week.

Locally we had our young children walking through the woods at Clinton lake frequently, walking/biking.doing legos big time,art projects, 4-H dog shows and refused to buy them video games until late in their childhood with time restrictions attached. Our children grew up being active. It all begins at home.

Perhaps Lawrence city government needs to be thinking about connecting our hike and bike paths so they take us somewhere like around Lawrence,Kansas,to other neighborhoods and shopping areas.

Perhaps using these examples of how other communities are connected might be useful.

Top 30 Walkable Communities:

Again if the city is interested in spending another $15-$20 million why not offer up work out sets to each single family dwelling live in homeowner? Now we're talking wellness and true sharing of taxpayers tax dollars.

gl0ck0wn3r 4 years, 2 months ago

So basically you are for blowing tax dollars when they are blown on projects you like or benefit you. Hypocrite. LEGOS BIG TIME!

Richard Heckler 4 years, 2 months ago

"So basically you are for blowing tax dollars when they are blown on projects you like or benefit you." Which makes me like everybody else.

At least I am in favor of taxpayers voting on the issues instead of accepting blindly decisions made by politicians.

The library and the T had large voter support.

Have no fear this "fee based" chit chat is nothing more than rhetoric to sway the minds into thinking users will pay the $15,000,000 not the taxpayers = not true.

The real estate industry should pay for the extravagant rec center considering it is their baby. Just like the $20,000,000 USD 497 athletic project extravaganza had its' origin from the local real estate special interest group. Most builders understand tax dollar projects are for a purpose that improves the opportunity for sales in their newer developments. While laughing all of the way to the bank.

gl0ck0wn3r 4 years, 2 months ago

"Which makes me like everybody else."

No, no it doesn't. Hypocrite. LEGOS!

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