Advertisement

Archive for Wednesday, August 8, 2012

City leaders get clearer picture of rec center

The Lawrence City Commission got a look at new renderings on Tuesday of a proposed recreation center in northwest Lawrence, including this one that illustrates the basketball courts inside a 181,000 square foot fieldhouse. Plans for the facility have been developed by Lawrence-based Paul Werner Architects and GouldEvans architects.

The Lawrence City Commission got a look at new renderings on Tuesday of a proposed recreation center in northwest Lawrence, including this one that illustrates the basketball courts inside a 181,000 square foot fieldhouse. Plans for the facility have been developed by Lawrence-based Paul Werner Architects and GouldEvans architects.

August 8, 2012

Advertisement

City leaders continued to express enthusiasm for a proposed recreation center in northwest Lawrence on Tuesday as the City Commission received a number of new reports on the project.

A new rendering of the proposed recreation center in northwest Lawrence.

A new rendering of the proposed recreation center in northwest Lawrence.

A rendering of the soccer field at the proposed rec center in northwest Lawrence.

A rendering of the soccer field at the proposed rec center in northwest Lawrence.

A rendering of the concourse at the proposed rec center in northwest Lawrence.

A rendering of the concourse at the proposed rec center in northwest Lawrence.

“This is a citizens’ facility,” Mayor Bob Schumm said. “The extra bonus to it is we can roll it out and use it as an economic development tool as well.”

Commissioners took no formal action on the project Tuesday, and the end of the meeting they said they would mull over the new information and direct city staff as needed in future meetings.

The proposed city-owned youth fieldhouse combined with a Kansas University track and field and soccer complex at the northwest corner of Sixth Street and the South Lawrence Trafficway would generate $6.3 million in annual economic spending in the city, according to a report from Convention Sports and Leisure International.

John Wilkins, architect at the Lawrence-based architecture and design firm Gould Evans, presented a new design that brought the total size of the fieldhouse to 181,000 square feet. The space would have a one-eighth mile walking track and gym space for eight full-size basketball courts or 16 volleyball courts.

The newly added turf area could accommodate four 60-foot-by-80-foot soccer fields, or three such fields with room for spectators.

Lawrence Memorial Hospital has expressed interest in partnering with the city to establish a use for a 7,000-square-foot wellness space in the facility.

“We’re very much in the preliminary stages” with the partnership, said David Corliss, city manager. “We’re both very interested in doing something cooperatively.”

City estimates placed the infrastructure costs for the new building at $6.45 million. Corliss said some of the infrastructure costs could be paid using funds from a transportation development district sales tax levied on businesses in the area.

Britt Crum-Cano, the city’s economic development coordinator, presented preliminary estimates of revenue generated from such a sales tax at about $3.6 million over a 22-year period on a conservative end, and $8.6 million on a more aggressive end.

Ernie Shaw, interim director of parks and recreation, told commissioners the facility would provide numerous opportunities for a number of people, from participants in youth leagues to people over 50.

“We’ve never had an opportunity to program turf,” he said, adding that could open up options for flag football, kickball, ultimate Frisbee and lacrosse, in addition to the other options afforded to the department.

The city has never had volleyball leagues before, he said, and that would be available in the new center.

“We have endless opportunities in a facility like this, and I don’t think that the programs are going to be a problem,” Shaw said.

Schumm said the new facility would also free up space and demand in the city’s existing recreation centers.

“We’re going to continue to look out for those facilities” and make sure they’re maintained and supported, Schumm said.

The commission heard from a handful of members of the public, most of whom expressed support for the project.

“My challenge to the commission is to do it right,” said Ron Crawford, who lives in the area of the proposed project. “I think you’re on the right path.”

Comments

Jayhawker07 2 years, 4 months ago

Dose anyone feel like the decision on the rec center has already been made. I feel like our elected officials are bought and paid for. Not by the majority of people of this town but by the votes of the folks of the people that are bought and paid for (and I am talking voters). Problem is nobody votes, unless they are told by ($) someone what to do. BS. This town needs to get up off there ass and vote. These folks are walking all over us. Vote, Vote, Vote. Make you vote count, otherwise you are just a follower by choice. Whatever they say I will do. Not me, not now, not ever.

classclown 2 years, 4 months ago

This whole situation reminds me of the Bradley. Anyone familiar with The Pentagon Wars?

kernal 2 years, 4 months ago

Trust no one.

Why the H#ll weren't more people out voting yesterday!! Take some responsibility for living in a free country, for pete's sake. The only excuses are in you were in labor, mentally challenged (I think some of the candidates in this country would fit in that category), too sick, infirm or an illegal. If you didn't even register and don't bother to keep up on the issues and candidates, then shame, shame, shame!! You don't use it, you lose it.

Kendall Simmons 2 years, 4 months ago

Well, considering that, at least on my ballot in my precinct, there were NO challengers in ANY race (one race listed two candidates, but one of them had already dropped out of the race)...wanna tell me what on earth good my voting yesterday accomplished???

Did you assume that there were races to be decided upon in both the Republican and Democratic primaries in all precincts?

Kate Rogge 2 years, 4 months ago

"The commission heard from a handful of members of the public, most of whom expressed support for the project." Aren't these the same pro-development glee club members who spontaneously spoke up for 9th and New Hampshire?

jafs 2 years, 4 months ago

So, when the "handful" supports the projects you want, it's fine, but if it doesn't, then you complain about a small minority making decisions?

jafs 2 years, 4 months ago

Really? If I remember incorrectly, my bad.

So, you have no problem with small minorities making decisions?

jafs 2 years, 4 months ago

So, then you support the "T" funding, library expansion, etc.?

They were passed by a majority of those who voted.

Richard Heckler 2 years, 4 months ago

The lions share of taxpayers I feel do not support this project judging from letters and the many comments here.

It's time to let the voters to decide..... it's our money! Yes taxpayers do own the tax dollars in this community.

jafs 2 years, 4 months ago

Ok - some new numbers here.

About $6.5 million for infrastructure costs, added to $24 million for the facility, plus another $7 million over 20 years for operating costs, and we get:

$37.5 million in costs to taxpayers

Now the new notion is that we may only get $3.6 million in tax revenue over that period.

And, some of the costs of infrastructure "may" come from new TDD sales taxes at the development, meaning that if people choose to spend their money there, and pay higher sales taxes than in other parts of town, that may contribute to the costs.

Still, we spend $37.5 million to get $3.6-$8.6 million - why?

Topple 2 years, 4 months ago

Because our city commission is full of clowns who couldn't pass a basic finance course.

Bigdog66046 2 years, 4 months ago

and that's only if the commissioners don't decide to give that tax $ to the developers, ( because you know it might not be "feasible" unless they have the tax $)

Sharon Nottingham 2 years, 4 months ago

Why wont the city listen to their constituents?!!! I am so frustrated.

Kendall Simmons 2 years, 4 months ago

Ah...so you're of the "two wrongs make a right" school, huh?

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 2 years, 4 months ago

"The city has never had volleyball leagues before, he said, and that would be available in the new center."

What is he talking about? There have been volleyball leagues for many, many years in this city.

James MacMurray 2 years, 4 months ago

exactly! http://www.lawrenceks.org/lprd/adultsports/volleyball

Don't know if it is a reporter error or that we have an interim director that doesn't know anything about what he is in charge of.

ahyland 2 years, 4 months ago

Hi, folks. I called Ernie this morning to make sure I understood his comments, and he told me that I had his statement correct, but added he was speaking about youth volleyball leagues, where Lawrence is lacking in comparison with other communities. You are correct in that adult leagues have been around for some time. I should have made that clearer in the story, but am glad we got it cleared up here.

Andy Hyland LJW Reporter

Rusty Thomas 2 years, 4 months ago

Ernie meant to say Youth Volleyball Leagues. There are adult leagues most weekday nights and in the fall there is a "league" for 4th - 5th graders of beginning players coached by parents on Sunday afternoons,

leftylucky 2 years, 4 months ago

Shame on HUGH CARTER for insulting the neighborhood leaders and the voices that they represent. As a member of the pro development glee club what kind of conversation was that Hugh. Last time I checked democracy started at the neighborhood level. What is wrong with the land that the university owns from Bob Billings to 23rd and Kasold down to Crest line. To put into the fine logical decision that t he vacant land is a eye sore (9th & new hampshire) and has not been used for ever. Since the university is a non profit why not donate that land for the centralized super rec center. Would not need to extend infrastructure and highway. Win win.

lawrencetomater 2 years, 4 months ago

what is wrong with you people? sitting behind a keyboard and posting under anonymous cover does not do anything to "let your voice be heard."

why isn't the city listening? because they're tired of the rhetoric that has oozed its way into our way of life. it's all about how stupid this person is or how incompetent this person is.

do you people even read the reports? or just skim and then call yourself an expert? unbelievable. it's not the city that's incompetent, it's you.

i have lived in lawrence my whole life. i'm tired of listening to you people dominate the message boards. i'm emailing everyone i know today to try to get them on here to bring balance to this rhetoric.

if you are so great, run for commission. show up at a meeting. do something. don't just sit behind a keyboard and consider your duty done because you have bashed on people who are trying to better our city. '

maybe they're wrong. but they can't hear you behind your anonymous bashes and your frequently-posting-on-the-board-inside-jokes. say something. anything that is not laced with hate and judgment.

jafs 2 years, 4 months ago

I sent messages to the entire city commission expressing my objections to this project, based on the information in the paper combined with simple arithmetic.

Do you really think they'll change their minds because of that?

Carol Bowen 2 years, 4 months ago

I resent your reference to "you people". You are making generalizations based on no information. I agree that some posters display a lot of attitude, but how can you draw the conclusion that they did not attend the meeting or write the commissioners? Merrill cannot assume that a majority opposes the rec center, either. I know of at least two posters, jafs and myself, who have written to the commissioners. Kindly, do not stereotype and follow up with conclusions.

Carol Bowen 2 years, 4 months ago

I hope you have not been elected to any office.

classclown 2 years, 4 months ago

"Still, we spend $37.5 million to get $3.6-$8.6 million - why?"

=====================================

Because the City of Lawrence is nothing more than a concubine of the University of Kansas.

rockchalker52 2 years, 4 months ago

"Still, we spend $37.5 million to get $3.6-$8.6 million - why?"

Because, as Schumm point out, it is an economic development tool as well as a facility for all of us. The $3.6 to $8.6 mil aren't the only monies that will be generated for the city, for you, for your businesses. The Wellness Center idea is wonderful & also benefits the whole community.

jafs 2 years, 4 months ago

If there's more money coming to the city, why isn't that mentioned in various articles on the subject?

I will undoubtedly pay higher taxes in order for this project to happen, and will not benefit personally from it in any way.

If we want to create a rec center similar to others already existing, fine, let's do that. It would benefit the entire community more than this project will.

rockchalker52 2 years, 4 months ago

Respectfully disagree. It's proactive. It'll help the community with both short & long term economic opportunities. The sort of prosperity building that helps keep property tax increases at bay. Holcomb is nice, but you can't build one or two of those & expect any economic impact, just more costs, & you couldn't have a facility with as many advantages.

jafs 2 years, 4 months ago

Maybe, maybe not.

We'll see.

All of the subsidized development over the last 15 years or so has resulted in continuous increases in both property and sales taxes.

Holcomb, and other similar things, are truly in the common good, and so I support the use of tax dollars to build them.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 2 years, 4 months ago

At worst, building another "Holcomb" in far West Lawrence would mean that costs would be roughly equal to the benefits.

This proposed project runs the risk of astronomical costs to taxpayers with minimal returns.

What's really driving this is the prospect for the developers to see a significant return on their relatively minimal investment, while the public will be on the hook for the major money here, with a much smaller potential return on that investment-- that's the Lawrence way.

Kendall Simmons 2 years, 4 months ago

But it's not proactive. That's the problem. It's reactive.

Other cities have/are building such facilities for the same purpose...to attract major tournaments and bring $$ into the community. There's even talk about building one at The Legends. (And, yes...that is the main purpose of this.)

So local developers want to jump on the bandwagon. What else is new? The problem is that they are too late. There are too many in the area already. Heck, the most successful one in the area so far attracts events 29 weekends a year. That's slightly over half the available weekends.

Do you seriously think we're going to attract even as many as that?? Maybe you think we'll "steal" all the ones from other new facilities in the area? Or is it just that "well, we'll get the giant tournaments because we're bigger" thinking?

(And keep in mind that we will be bound to this for 22 years, but we will not be the "premier new facility" for very long. Rather, we'll become an aging facility.)

Or maybe you're thinking that KU will run tournaments there and we'll gain from those? Well, do we know what KU's thinking is on that? Right now, we don't even have any guarantees that residents will be able to use the KU facilities there. (And forget the "oh, the KU brand will bring in tournaments! " argument...delusions of grandeur are not a solid foundation for decision-making.)

The Riverfront Mall is a perfect example of the City not being able to recognize business reality. (Malls were a dying breed by then...and it was obvious to anyone who looked that this was the case.)

And now this whole rec center thing (and I'm not arguing against rec centers in western Lawrence)...I just think it's gotten out of control. It strikes me as pretty much like all the communities who bought into the phony stories of the bounty private prisons would bring to their communities. And look how well that worked out.

This concerns me greatly.

pizzapete 2 years, 4 months ago

I agree acornwebworks, developers in this city have a poor track record with many of their ideas being five or ten years behind the national curve. I fear you're correct in your assessment that Lawrence is getting into the sports arena gamble way to late in the game and it will be nearly impossible for us to compete with the facilities already built in Kansas City. Maybe that's the reason the developer would like the city to cover their bets?

Although Lawrence has largely escaped the real estate bubble and financial crisis facing many other cities in America, it doesn't mean we're immune to the economic woes facing many other cities. Maybe we should look to California as a guide for what reckless spending, tax give aways, and poor planning by city managers might bring in the future. Like many California cities, we might be spending ourselves into an economic abyss that will take us years to recover from. Imagine a future with higher property taxes, sales taxes, and increases in city fees that could last generations. If this recreation project really is the money maker the developer is selling us, why does he feel the need to share the risk with us and future generations of Lawrence tax payers?

scaramouchepart2 2 years, 4 months ago

If you read the CSL report you would note that this project is not meant to make a profit. "break even" maybe. Parks and Rec subsidizes all the present rec centers. In the letter before the report CSL states the do not support it will make money or not be a total disaster. They refrain from making any statement. These economic numbers are just that- numbers. If the retail does not come in then tax monies won't be there to pay off the debt and if it does no one is talking about the affects on the rest of town. There are things we still need to know we were promised like the difference in costs of BOTH projects.

Kendall Simmons 2 years, 4 months ago

Only if you are willing to pay for it. And I mean PAY for it, not just pay tax dollars.

average 2 years, 4 months ago

Damn. Not just a mile-and-a-half west of 6th&Waky, over two miles (since it's a quarter-mile back from 6th, with some tasty good-ol-boy-bait lots in front).

When the city started talking about 165 acres and $6mm-plus, I thought there must have been some plans for a number of soccer fields. Maybe tennis, softball, what have you. Instead, we're actually talking about a 35-40 acre area with more parking lot than athletic space. Two 'fields' with heavy KU intentions. Good luck getting all those smiling 10-year-olds on the glossy brochure some scheduled time on one of those two.

For the price, it's just sorta sadly... unambitious. And, if we were only sticking to a 30-40 acre site, you'd think you could site something with a little less major infrastructure needs (figuring out how to make 6th/SLT pedestrian/bike friendly with no promise of a penny from KDOT for one).

jafs 2 years, 4 months ago

I sent e-mails to the entire city commission about this.

So far, I've gotten 2 responses - one that the tax revenue was only from the new taxes associated with the development, which may be true. But, that commissioner didn't offer any other examples of new revenue.

The other one wasn't even sure "where I got those numbers" about the costs. I got them from adding the costs of buying, extending infrastructure, and operating costs, all of which were in articles in the paper. Shouldn't commissioners who are voting on these projects know those costs before voting on them?

Also, he said it was hard to "enumerate benefits" of projects like these - if that's the case, we should be even more cautious about them, in my view.

Finally, he presented the project as one which benefits the recreational needs of the community, which seems a bit off given that most of it won't be available to the general public.

So far, I haven't seen anything that would change my view.

Richard Heckler 2 years, 4 months ago

Let's not forget that funding for the T and the library rehab were put to the voters and the voters made the decision. Voters also approved a sales tax to fix potholes etc etc etc.

This project which is more expensive by far than the library and may well be more expensive to service/operate than the library so put the matter on the ballot.

Yes put it to vote out of respect for the taxpayers and THEIR MONEY.

Richard Heckler 2 years, 4 months ago

Not only that the USD 497 school district has spent $20 million or more tax dollars on a very similar project that is expected to drive economic growth. This has yet to be paid for.

Why does Lawrence, Kansas need to spend another $30-$40 million and maybe more?

An alternative exists.

The City can build a recreation center on land west of Lawrence Free State High School with its baseball and football fields plus its gym and the City’s attached indoor pool. A recreation center built near these existing facilities could serve the citizens needs and attract some level of tournaments with their ensuing economic benefits.

This alternative site would not require any major new infrastructure; the site already has the necessary services. The location would develop its own synergy through coordination of events with the facilities at the High School.

The City should carefully examine the relative costs, benefits and risks of this alternative. It may be a less costly, less risky, and nearly as beneficial an option that can better serve the needs of the residents of Northwest Lawrence.

average 2 years, 4 months ago

Yeah. And, again, I was assuming things that weren't ever in the plans. But when they were talking 160+ acres, I was picturing something like a scaled-down version of the Overland Park complex at 135th and Switzer (which has a dozen soccer fields, a dozen baseball/softball diamonds, and a gym in the range of what we are discussing). If we were discussing building something like half of that? That might have been big enough project that leapfrog development could be the only way to get it done. Since we're actually only talking ~30 acres, two fields and a large gym? It seems like that scale of project could be fit in somewhere closer to Free State without the huge expenses involved in developing trans-SLT.

rockchalker52 2 years, 4 months ago

"...most of it won't be available to the general public..." jafs

That seems like just a wishful negative assumption on your part. The plan offers a variety of recreational option for everyone plus, hopefully, a wellness center.

jafs 2 years, 4 months ago

From what I've read in the paper, that's my conclusion.

If I'm wrong, then I misunderstood the articles.

Kendall Simmons 2 years, 4 months ago

From everything I have been reading, we do not know what access Lawrence residents will have to significant parts of the project because they are "KU facilities"...even while we pay for them.

We shouldn't even consider building any of this without clear and binding intentions from KU. The fact that Bill Self personally donated $1 million has no bearing on what KU will or will not decide.

rockchalker52 2 years, 4 months ago

"Ernie Shaw, interim director of parks and recreation, told commissioners the facility would provide numerous opportunities for a number of people, from participants in youth leagues to people over 50.

“We’ve never had an opportunity to program turf,” he said, adding that could open up options for flag football, kickball, ultimate Frisbee and lacrosse, in addition to the other options afforded to the department."

That sure sounds like opportunity for recreation to me. Nice facilities for the things we like to do.

jafs 2 years, 4 months ago

So, what percentage of the overall project will be available to the general public?

Richard Heckler 2 years, 4 months ago

The City contracted with Conventions Sports & Leisure (CS&L) for a report to project the demand for such a facility.

What are the Pros?

  1. The project will attract some level of tourist spending which will generate jobs.

  2. The project will leverage a land donation and financial contributions from Assist Foundation and Fritzel family.

  3. The project may serve the recreation needs of Northwest Lawrence.

What are the Cons?

  1. The project is costly.

The City’s indoor component of the project is estimated to cost $25 million for a 181,000 square foot fieldhouse. This indicates a construction cost of $138 per square foot, which is higher than three of the four comparable facilities listed in the CS&L report. This suggests that the project costs are inflated and should be examined closely.

The project causes the City to jump to the west of the South Lawrence Trafficway, creating a need for very expensive infrastructure. This will cost many millions of dollars for services that are not now available at the site. The infrastructure costs are too high to be justified by a highly risky sports complex.

  1. The project is very large.

The fieldhouse is very large at 181,000 square feet, larger than 5 of the 6 comparable facilities listed in the CS&L report, many serving larger metropolitan areas. Given the size of the Kansas City metropolitan area, the scale of the proposed fieldhouse appears to be too large for the market served.

  1. The projected demand for the sports complex is much higher than the demand experienced by comparable facilities.

CS&L report projects the Lawrence fieldhouse to attract 294,000 attendees annually to 34 tournaments. This is greater than the annual draw at the Fieldhouse USA in Frisco, Texas. It seems highly unlikely that the Lawrence Fieldhouse, serving a smaller and less rich metropolitan area will outperform the Frisco facility serving a much larger and richer metropolitan area. Given the size of the Kansas City area and the performance of other facilities, the projected demand for use of the Lawrence fieldhouse seems highly exaggerated.

  1. The fieldhouse will not serve the recreation needs to the residents of Northwest Lawrence.

If the demand for the fieldhouse is as great as the CS&L report indicates, it appears that use of the fieldhouse will be restricted for 30 of 52 weekends each year. This high incidence of restricted use will lead to a disgruntled public who will assuredly call for facilities that are open to the public without such an interrupted schedule. The City should rethink whether the proposed sports complex is a business venture or is a facility to serve the recreation needs of the residents of Northwest Lawrence.

Richard Heckler 2 years, 4 months ago

  1. Competition in the Kansas City region is not fully reflected in the demand calculations.

The CS&L report lists possible tournament sponsors. This list includes sponsors who are owners of facilities in the Kansas City area. It seems highly unlikely that these sponsors, such as the Heart of American Volleyball, would send their own tournaments to a competing facility in Lawrence. The list of potential sponsors who would support tournaments appears to be inflated.

  1. Ownership of the facility assumes that Lawrence taxpayers must absorb all risk.

One-half of the comparable facilities listed in the CS&L report are privately owned. If this project could attract the level of demand projected for it, private investors should materialize to make this a viable project without large levels of public subsidy. It appears that the planning for this project has not properly explored leveraging investment from private investors to reduce the risk absorbed by the taxpayers.

As structured, the taxpayers of Lawrence must absorb all of the risk for any operating losses and construction cost overruns on this project. The KU Athletic Association is absorbing none of these risks. Private investors are absorbing none of these risks. It appears that the taxpayers are being asked to absorb too much risk in this project which should be shared by the KU Athletic Association and private investors.

Richard Heckler 2 years, 4 months ago

=== Partnering with the KU Athletic Association is questionable.

The KU Athletic Association is projected to build an outdoor facility at the sports complex, yet it will pay nothing for the use of the land, will contribute nothing toward the development of the infrastructure to service the site, will contribute nothing to the operation of the complex as a whole, and has made no promise that its facilities will be open to the public.

The KU Athletic Association is notorious for not allowing either the public or even KU students to make use of Athletic Association facilities.

Recently, the KU Athletic Association saw four employees convicted of federal crimes involving stolen tickets. This first scandal led to a further scandal with two local police officers losing their jobs over fixing speeding tickets in exchange for basketball tickets.

Given this history of corruption and rebuffing the needs of the community, the KU Athletic Association seems like an undesirable partner for an investment of this scale. The Athletic Association should be making a very large contribution to this complex, such as covering operating losses, and should be attempting to rebuild public trust by assuring the public that it will have access to the outdoor facilities.

==== The land donation has prohibitive strings attached.

The City’s plan promised the residents of the land to the north of the proposed site a buffer from non-residential uses. The land donation is only enough space to build the facilities without leaving open space as a buffer. In effect, the land donation forces the City to renege on its only plan and not provide the needed buffer.

The proposed plan seems to provide only 800 parking spaces. This seems prohibitively small if the parking is to support a 10,000 seat stadium.

The City should reconsider whether this land donation is adequate to produce a good project which provides adequate space for the facilities and buffers these non-residential uses from adjoining residential properties.

Richard Heckler 2 years, 4 months ago

==== The commercial development cannot be supported by the sports complex.

The CS&L report projects demand for hotel space at only 9,500 stays. At 60 percent occupancy and 365 nights per year, 9,500 stays is enough to support only 43 hotel rooms, far less than the “upwards of 300 rooms” mentioned in the report. The City is investing millions of taxpayers dollars in two hotel projects, one downtown and on closed to the KU campus. It is unwise in the extreme to threaten these investments by promoting more hotel space that cannot be supported by the sports complex and will only compete against hotels in which the local taxpayers are invested.

The CS&L report projects spending at only $12.50 per attendee who visits the project for the day and $80 per attendee who stays for the night. The report projects that only 1 in 5 attendees will stay for the night. Even if the 294,000 visitors figure could be met, this level of spending is only enough to support about 25,000 square feet of retail, (((.229400080)+(.829400012.5))/300=25,480). This level of spending would support, at most, a few fast food restaurants. If the project performs closer to the performance found in the comparable facilities listed in the CS&L report, these the supportable retail space will be even less.

As is so often the case, developers exaggerate the demand for commercial, especially retail space. The City only does harm to its existing retail districts by allowing outlying new districts to be built. The City should rethink the viability of any associated commercial space associated with this project.

City Commissioners have received all of the above Pros and Cons Analysis provided by

Kirk McClure Professor Graduate Program in Urban Planning University of Kansas Ph. D., / Urban Planning, University of California at Berkeley, 1985 / ; Master of City Planning, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 1978 / ; Bachelor of Arts, Urban Studies, University of Kansas, 1974 / ; Bachelor of Architecture, University of Kansas, 1973.

rockchalker52 2 years, 4 months ago

Well, the spambot threw up again, so, jafs, it's been a pleasure...

later, gator

Kendall Simmons 2 years, 4 months ago

I hope you read the information before you leave. You may not like it...but it is serious food for thought.

joes_donuts 2 years, 4 months ago

Since nobody reads Merrill's spams anymore, I will give you the cliff notes:

1) We lost the Sunflower games due to lack of hotel space and athletic facilities.

2) We lost the Jayhawk Invitation due to lack of gyms.

3) Bringing events like these during the summer's help all the businesses in town, including downtown.

3) We cannot host any of the Big 12 track meets because of a outdated track at the football stadium.

4) Hosting track events will fill all the hotels and restaurants in town.

If we build it, they will come.

You are welcome Merrill (for my work).

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 2 years, 4 months ago

Sounds like only the hotels have anything to be gained from this project-- which would seem to indicate that the hotel owners in this town (Fritzels, Compton) should be financing this, not the taxpayers. But for some reason, instead they are asking taxpayers to help finance their hotel projects.

That's the more accurate Cliff Notes version.

rockchalker52 2 years, 4 months ago

You see! Joe gets it! Man, I could go for a donut.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 2 years, 4 months ago

All he's doing is repeating all the unsupported assertions that the promoters want everyone to believe.

scaramouchepart2 2 years, 4 months ago

Just You are always correct. Compton and Frtzel always ask for all possible tax incentives. So business as usual. Not feasible to build on their own, of coarse the taxpayers WILL benefit whether they do or not and must pay for the charity of the developer to build in Lawrence.

Laura House Blanchard 2 years, 4 months ago

Let's see... we have 2 architectural Firms involved....Both Local! Now let's see if they can hire local consultants in lieu of taking this project out of town! Keep that money local.

rockchalker52 2 years, 4 months ago

"Sounds like only the hotels have anything to be gained from this project..." Bozo

Only if you have selective hearing. The benefits are many with economic activity for a variety of businesses as well as first rate recreational activity. I'm kinda proud that my hometown has the vision & ability to pull this together.

jafs 2 years, 4 months ago

We'll see.

The TIF district on the Arts Center block was supposed to pay for a lot of the parking garage, but that didn't happen.

I'll ask my above question again - what percentage of the new project will be available to the general public?

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 2 years, 4 months ago

"The benefits are many with economic activity for a variety of businesses as well as first rate recreational activity."

This begs the questions of which businesses benefit, to what degree, and whether that justifies the expense to the vast majority of taxpayers who will see no direct, or even indirect, benefit.

And would the first-rate recreational facility be primarily for the use of non-residents, at great expense to residents who would, recreationally, be equally if not better served by a much smaller complex that's there strictly for residents, and not (as of now mythical) participants from the surrounding region(s?)

So far, all we have to go on is the wishful thinking of the promoters.

JustNoticed 2 years, 4 months ago

"The city has never had volleyball leagues before, he said, and that would be available in the new center."

Andy? Were you just in regurgitate mode?

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 2 years, 4 months ago

Nothing wrong with volleyball leagues-- but that could be accomplished with a $4 million facility that isn't designed primarily to cater to non-residents.

scaramouchepart2 2 years, 4 months ago

Just because someone says there will be economic benefits does not make it so. Many of CSL projects are failures and CSL does not support their own stats based on a paragraph in the preceding letter. We will have to invent events. By the way it is not the number of hotel room as the reason for lack of events in Lawrence it is the lack of meeting rooms. This came from a couple of Cuty Commission meeting a couple years back. Framing a project as economic development doesn't mean it is.

Steve Jacob 2 years, 4 months ago

Let's add how much Fritzel will want in tax rebates for building around the center/

pizzapete 2 years, 4 months ago

I agree with many that this recreation center could bring many new visitors to our city and have a long term positive economic impact. After all, it isn't our high rise apartments, hotels, and Mexican restaurants that make people want to come to Lawrence. It's the fact that KU brings something unique to the table. There is little doubt that a successful KU basketball or football team, or KU sports in general, have a huge impact on our local economy. Any downtown business owner will tell you they sell more t-shirts, sandwiches, beer, and other items when KU is hosting a major sporting event. People come from all over the country to attend or participate in these sporting events and our hotels, restaurants, and retail stores all benefit from the influx of these visitors.

We're lucky that Lawrence has the university to help to keep our economy vibrant. I agree that KU does need to update their track and field facilities, Memorial Stadium, and their sports fields in general. These updated facilities would in fact have a positive impact on the economy of our city. However, I do have some doubts about the city forming a partnership with a developer and the university to make this happen. I think some questions need to be answered before we go forward. Why isn't the university building these facilities on their own? Why isn't the university building these facilities on campus? Why is the city getting involved in this at all? Why doesn't the developer partner with the university and keep the profits for themselves? I don't see the need for the city to invest money it doesn't have for something most residents aren't going to be using anyway. If KU needs to update their facilities let them do it on their own dime. They have all the resources they need to make that happen without the cities support.

Right now if we want to watch a KU baseball game or soccer tournament we can go up on campus and watch the event without paying any fees. Also, any citizen that wants to run on a track, or swim in a pool, can go to the local high school or our existing rec. centers to do it. We can also go to one of the fields on campus for free and play soccer or Frisbee with our friends. The university and our high schools already have all the facilities any local resident needs to stay healthy. I don't see how moving these events and facilities off campus and to the far end of town is going to benefit the health of our local citizens.

Currahee 2 years, 4 months ago

A lot of these facilities are concentrated in East Lawrence. I live in West Lawrence and would welcome this addition.

average 2 years, 4 months ago

There are numerous ways to site ~30 acres of rec facility inside the SLT. In the general Free State area, or tied into the upcoming 15th-and-SLT interchange plan. Either would most likely be closer to where you live than a trans-SLT center. For that matter, the KU Endowment owns plenty of land well inside the city to build the KU-focused parts of this project (track and field).

The town's Usual Suspects want trans-SLT development sooner rather than later. They all made bets on land west of the SLT (back when they thought "5% growth forever" was plausible in a state with sub-1% growth overall). And Lawrence surely will eventually have fast food and tire shops west of the SLT. But, at the current ~1-2% (normal) growth rates, that could well be 30 or more years from now. Not paying off their speculations nearly fast enough.

So, to goose the process of adding more miles of pavement, policing, snow-plowing, stop lights, sewer pipe, etc to the city's plate... the usual suspects came up with a plan. One of the Usuals donated a parcel that would be hard to market anyway (a quarter-mile back from the highway). If the Usuals can sell the city on 'free land and glossy brochures', they'll get their city services west of the SLT and their speculations out there will go up in value.

pizzapete 2 years, 4 months ago

Average, now that makes a lot of sense. What better way to jump start poor land speculation than to get the city involved in the plan? Which reminds me, I've been thinking about selling my house for a couple of years now, but the housing market is in a slump. Maybe I should donate the land the house sits on to someone with the understanding that they would rent the house it sits on from me for twenty years at a price double the current mortgage rate and after twenty years the renter would own the house. What a great idea, for me anyway.

Hoots 2 years, 4 months ago

I can't believe how this town is spending money in these rocky economic times. I guess they haven't looked at the fact cities are going broke left and right in this nation right now due to overspending and poor fiscal planning. The spending habits here were worrisome then turned to seriously scary.

Alceste 2 years, 4 months ago

We same BIG guys will control and dominate ANY athletic endeavor the City enters into: They put in a basketball court or five.....WE will control it....NO little guys or scrubs allowed. Please DO spend all this money on such a facility for US BIG GUYS. We promise no regular guy or half witted dribbler will get near the court, let alone the ball.

Next, WE will also control any other aspect of any athletic field, space, building, or whatever you determine. WE PROMISE. NO REGULAR GUYS ALLOWED. PROMISE.

The same bullies who dominate the open "courts" in the "parks"....never letting inexperienced players on the court....or....if one happens to make it on....will get elbowed and beat up beyond recognition, etc.

These facilities aren't for the general public....they're for the fanatics who refuse to "share"....oh....and same for any handball courts or whatever. It's a hopeless endeavor. Equalize the playing field: Put in a couple of indoor gun ranges in the same building(s)....maybe US big boys might understand what COULD happen.

What a stupid use of city money....particularly when there are sewers to repair; streets to rebuild; signs to re-install. Blah, blah, blah........shrug

Richard Heckler 2 years, 4 months ago

This community has 3 major retail failures in the Riverfront Plaza,Tanger Mall and The Farm that were promoted as significant contributions to economic growth. All required significant infrastructure contributions from the taxpayers.

Typically taxpayers do not blindly trust politicians with their tax dollars. No matter what their names are. Taxpayers prefer to be respected and involved with the spending of their tax dollars.

I don't know any fiscal conservative taxpaying voters who appreciated being bypassed on the $20 million dollar school district expenditure/tax increase on this monster PLAY project. This adds to the the annual operating budget of USD 497.

I don't know any fiscal conservative taxpaying voters who appreciate being bypassed on this upcoming $40-$50 million expenditure/tax increase on this monster PLAY project. This project will require a handsome promotion budget and a handsome operating budget.

If the taxpayers find further expansion of this PLAY project worthy of their tax dollars provide them the opportunity to approve the project on the ballot. Out of respect for the taxpayer

The taxpaying voters had to approve spending on The T, the library,pot hole repairs so why not on this extravagant PLAY project? This PLAY project comes with a zero guarantee it can or will payback the taxpayers.

Put the expensive PLAY project before the voters? Out of respect for the taxpayer.

The taxpaying voters had to approve spending on The T, the library,pot hole repairs so why not on this extravagant PLAY project? Show respect for the taxpayer.

Typically taxpayers do not blindly trust politicians with their tax dollars. No matter what their names are. Taxpayers prefer to be respected and involved with the spending of their tax dollars.

How much of a return can taxpayers expect on this investment in PLAY? Let the taxpaying voters decide.

Richard Heckler 2 years, 4 months ago

“We’ve never had an opportunity to program turf,” he said, adding that could open up options for flag football, kickball, ultimate Frisbee and lacrosse, in addition to the other options afforded to the department."

Ultimate Frisbee has been an opportunity waiting to developed at 9th and Iowa on city owned property for several decades.

Commenting has been disabled for this item.