Lawrence and Douglas County

Lawrence and Douglas county

KU athletics department showing interest in west Lawrence recreation center

February 23, 2012


Plans for a new west Lawrence recreation center are taking a twist with talk of the Kansas University athletics department exploring interest in the project.

Lawrence Mayor Aron Cromwell confirmed the city is putting on hold plans to sign a contract with Lawrence-based Gould Evans architects to create concept plans and cost estimates for a west side center.

That’s because city officials want to allow more time for a private proposal that surfaced last week to develop. Details about that plan continue to be sketchy, but it is becoming obvious the private parties are thinking on a grander scale than the city.

Cromwell confirmed the KU athletics department has been approached about participating in some type of tournament and recreation center. The possibility of including track and field amenities at the site has been raised. No commitments from any party, however, have been given.

“The idea of bringing the university, the city and private individuals together is intriguing,” Cromwell said. “But it is complicated to bring that together, and it takes time.”

The city hasn’t yet disclosed who brought the proposal forward to the city. Cromwell, though, said he does expect to give the public more information about who is involved and the basic concepts in the next couple of weeks, after the feasibility of the concept is further explored.

In the meantime, Cromwell said city commissioners will wait to consider approving a $55,000 contract with Gould Evans, which would have created concept plans and cost estimates for a new center. The commission also will wait to approve a $16,500 contract with a Kansas City consulting firm that was to study the feasibility of creating public fundraising campaign for a recreation center project.

Cromwell said if this new proposal moves forward, the scope of the project could change significantly and make any plans by Gould Evans obsolete.

Cromwell did not have timeline for when the project may come back up for a full City Commission discussion.


Kookamooka 6 years, 2 months ago

"The idea of bringing the university, the city and private individuals together is intriguing,”

Don't other cities do this all of the time? Without Yale, New Haven is just a hole in the ground. I always wondered why the University was so "standoffish" about being part of the Lawrence community. And who are the private individuals?

Scott Patterson 6 years, 2 months ago

What Lawrence needs is for this rec. center to include an ice rink. With transplanted KU students from Chicago, St. Louis and Omaha plus Lawrence and Topeka youth teams, an ice rink would have constant traffic.

geekin_topekan 6 years, 2 months ago

An ice hockey team? the Lawrence Catfish! I'd be totally down for that.

A little skittish about City of Lawrence/KU Athletics dealings though. Recent evidence would show that there is no limit, no law when it comes to a relationship.

kuguardgrl13 6 years, 2 months ago

Yes to a hockey rink! There are Minnesota students too :)

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 6 years, 2 months ago

It's in the public interest to provide adequate workout facilities for its residents. To that extent, I could support the construction of a facility similar to Holcomb or the E. Lawrence rec center on the west side of town.

But when the city's investment in the facilities I described above are merged with KU Athletics and other private interests, can the legitimate public interest still be met? What takes precedence, the need for the private interests to make a profit, or public access to facilities paid for with public funds? Will precedence be given to athletic competitions between college athletes or to city/county residents in rec leagues? Who decides?

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 6 years, 2 months ago

That should have read "It's in the public interest for the city to provide adequate workout facilities for its residents."

littlexav 6 years, 2 months ago

Amen, I think this is a horrible idea and just one more way for KUAthletics to take over the town.

Gail Grant 6 years, 2 months ago

Agreed. Maybe like with the public schools where the only schools that left with part time kindergarten are in the west (they probably were under the impression that the "rich" west can pay for the extra time). In this case as well they'll make the west side residents pay what the east side don't? The city need to ensure that the public interest is not harmed

Terry Sexton 6 years, 2 months ago

This is an opportunity to get a great facility that's beneficial in all kinds of ways. It's a real & substantial return on your tax dollar at a bargain price.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 6 years, 2 months ago

I'm sure that'll be the marketing spin pitched to the city commission, but the devil's in the details, and at this point, we have zero details.

Scott Patterson 6 years, 2 months ago

An ice rink in Lawrence will never happen. It would absolutely be successful with KU students, transplants and would draw from more than 200,000 residents in Topeka and Lawrence combined.

There just isn't anyone in L-town with enough guts to take the risk. Has to be same old, same old for Larryville.

Richard Heckler 6 years, 1 month ago

"substantial return on your tax dollar at a bargain price. "

What's the return? How much will this increase the city maintenance budget?

Taxpayers are also on the hook for the $$20 million $$ athletic projects. The athletic projects have become tax dollar money holes = spending never quits!

jhawkinsf 6 years, 1 month ago

I wonder if a velodrome might have substantial community support.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 6 years, 1 month ago

That would be really cool, but not enough local people would use it to justify publicly funding it. And I doubt that KU Athletics would want to be involved in it.

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