Archive for Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Public forum to provide details on rec center

June 5, 2012


Lawrence city leaders are ready to hear how big the public is thinking these days when it comes to a new recreation center for the community.

The city’s Parks and Recreation Advisory Board will host a public forum from 6:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. Wednesday in the commons area of Free State High School, 4700 Overland Drive, to discuss the possibility of a regional recreation complex that would include a fieldhouse, outdoor track and other amenities in northwest Lawrence.

“We’ve heard for many years now that we have a significant deficit in indoor gym space,” City Manager David Corliss said. “We want to hear from the public what we can do to address that shortage. We know we can do something small, but the question really is whether the community wants us to pursue this idea of working with partners to do something much larger than we could do on our own.”

At Wednesday’s meeting, city leaders are expected to provide some details about a proposal to build a multi-gym fieldhouse and recreation complex on the 50 acres of donated land at the northwest corner Sixth Street and the South Lawrence Trafficway.

The city’s Parks and Recreation Advisory Board met on Tuesday to prepare the meeting, and, based on its discussion, here are some points to watch for:

• Cost: $15 million has been a number thrown around a lot at City Hall in regard to how much the city may put toward the project. That’s how much the city was contemplating spending on a previously proposed smaller center on city-owned land near Walmart at Sixth and Wakarusa. But materials presented to the Parks and Recreation Advisory Board highlighted that the $15 million price tag does not include significant infrastructure and site improvements that will have to be made to the donated property. The city likely will have to cover all those costs, which haven’t yet been finalized. But Corliss said the costs will be significant, and likely would amount to several million dollars.

• Size: Concept plans are still calling for at least eight full court gyms that could be used for basketball and volleyball. Concept plans also include: an indoor walking track; an indoor artificial turf field for soccer and football; a community weight and cardio room; and a gymnastics area. The facility is being designed to serve both community needs and to attract regional tournaments that could provide a boost to the city’s economy.

• Kansas University: City officials are now characterizing KU as “a very likely partner” in the project. The concept plans show an outdoor track stadium and a soccer field that primarily would be for university uses, perhaps including hosting the Kansas Relays. Officials also confirmed that KU Coach Bill Self’s Assists Foundation continues to be interested in supporting the project.

• Wellness center: The plans also include a wellness center, that the city says could possibly be run by Lawrence Memorial Hospital. The city confirmed LMH has been in discussions with project leaders about the wellness component. Ernie Shaw, interim director of the city’s Parks and Recreation Department, said possible elements of a wellness center could include nutrition classes, physical rehabilitation services, body fat screenings, and other more specialized services and classes than what Parks and Recreation could offer.

• Partners: Corliss confirmed that Lawrence businessmen Steve and Duane Schwada are still key partners in the project. They control the ownership group that would donate the 50 acres to the city. Thomas Fritzel of Gene Fritzel Construction also is listed as a partner. Fritzel has been a key organizer of concept and has been the primary individual to reach out to Kansas University. Corliss has referred to Fritzel as a possible builder for the project.

• Control: At one point, there was discussion of Fritzel and his company running the day-to-day operations of the center. But Corliss confirmed that the focus has now shifted to having the city’s Parks and Recreation Department handle all maintenance, operations and scheduling of the property. The issue of who would ultimately control the center has been an important one to parks and recreation advocates in the community.

“I know I wouldn’t personally be willing to stick my neck out there and say we should spend ‘X’ amount of public tax dollars, if we could end up in a situation where we are in the second position of having access to gym space,” said Jana Dawson, a member of the city’s Parks and Recreation Advisory Board, and one the key proponents of more neighborhood gym space in the community.

Members of the public at Wednesday’s forum will have a chance to ask questions and make comments. Speakers likely will be limited to three minutes to make comments, Dawson said.


Richard Heckler 4 years ago

"The facility is being designed to serve both community needs and to attract regional tournaments that could provide a boost to the city’s economy. "

They are building this facility without knowing whether or not Lawrence can effectively compete with Topeka and KCMO/JOCO metro.

This certainly not necessary for a neighborhood rec center and it is NOT centrally located. As we know bankers and the real estate industry have been pushing this pork barrel project for awhile.

Should the city spend $20 million or more on the PLAY project? We already have with USD 497 tax dollars. Have taxpayers forgotten?

Bonnie Lowe, a Lawrence bank president and former mayor, is involved in the project to bring a youth sports complex to town. Bonnie Lowe -

School Priorities

What kind of new recreation facility do you want for Lawrence? NOT a field house

Should a Westside rec center be approved?

Is this more millions for additional PLAY Project? = yes

Who is funding the maintenance and staffing of this PLAY project?

How much will this PLAY project cost the taxpayers annually?

jhawkinsf 4 years ago

Geez, Merrill, I gotta agree with Snap. Not only are those polls old, but the polls taken each day in the LJW are not done scientifically. If you're suggesting they are, then you're wrong. And if you admit they're not being done scientifically, then they're meaningless.

A more honest post from your perspective would read something like this: "In my opinion, building this rec center would not be in the best interests of the taxpayer". Everything else is just a bunch of extra words that don't say anything.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 4 years ago

"Everything else is just a bunch of extra words that don't say anything."

Says one of most needlessly long-winded posters on the forum.

jhawkinsf 4 years ago

Good morning, Bozo. How are you this fine and lovely day?

Flap Doodle 4 years ago

Copy/pasting (being free) is your best entertainment value.

hipper_than_hip 4 years ago

This isn't in the best interest of the tax payer - it's in the best interest of the developers and in the best interest of KU.

Clickker 4 years ago

Well, it depends on if you want to go big or go home. Look at the type of things they build in other cities for their youth.

Lawrence school facilities would be considered "grade school" in parts of Texas....and I personally think they are adequate and a huge improvement over the dangerous facility at Haskell. Some would have us still in the dark ages.......and this new poposed facility is an example

blindrabbit 4 years ago

Dangerous at Haskell? Why?. Granted old, needed some serious upkeep, but otherwise a good place to watch a game. Also, quite successful for LHS, won a lot of State titles while using that field as a "home" stadium. Were you implying dangerous because of it's unusual East-West configuration!

Shelley Bock 4 years ago

The other members of the Sunflower League presented an ultimatum to the Lawrence schools and Leavenworth to upgrade facilities such as Haskell Stadium by making the surface softer than concrete. One high school went all the way to KSHSAA trying to disqualify Haskell because it was unsafe. While that school was unsuccessful, the other members of the league were willing to force a change or merge with the East Kansas League.

All three schools now have safer facilities.

blindrabbit 4 years ago

Dangerous at Haskell? Why?. Granted old, needed some serious upkeep, but otherwise a good place to watch a game. Also, quite successful for LHS, won a lot of State titles while using that field as a "home" stadium. Were you implying dangerous because of it's unusual East-West configuration!

Carol Bowen 4 years ago

So, now we have two sports complexes at the schools, and we are planning a super- rec center. Why is it that Lawrencians will pay for sports complexes and not contribute to The Jo or build our own community college? Are we an educated community or just physically fit?

Hooligan_016 4 years ago

I definitely like the idea of an indoor soccer field. It really is one of the recreational activities missing in the community. I know there is Futsal, but it's just not the same as real indoor soccer.

jhawkinsf 4 years ago

I'd like a velodrome, though I have no idea if there is a large demand for that. Or to piggyback this thread with another, how about a large outdoor oval around the Farmland project.

iseedumbpeople 4 years ago

I think a velodrome would get a lot of attention in Lawrence. There are tons of cyclist in Lawrence (just drive by any group ride staging point), and even more in the KC area that would come to use it, or to race on it during the weekends.

I think the closest one to this area is in St Louis.

blindrabbit 4 years ago

Cannot make the meeting tonight, but like to see some set-aside to recognize the Oregon Trail that crossed this piece of property!

blindrabbit 4 years ago

Since pie-in-the-Sky, future rec. Needs for Lawrence: Indoor Ice Rink (Topeka and Kansas City) Minature Golf Park (formerly had) Indoor Skating Rink (formerly had) Go-cart track (Topeka had) Lawn Bowling/Bocci Ball courts

Hooligan_016 4 years ago

I've wondered why there wasn't a mini-golf place in Lawrence ... if it allowed beer, I'm sure it would be a big hit.

blindrabbit 4 years ago

Had minature golf place out near 31st. and Iowa back in the 60's. I think the thing that killed it off was poor maintenance and rowdy customers! Maybe too much of the beer concept that you suggest, although it was not provided there.

Also indoor skating rink (from 1950's) near 23rd and Haskell. I think part of the problem was too much rowdyness even though owners tried to control!

john heleniak 4 years ago

The minature golf and batting cages at 31st and Iowa. I remember going to those up to 1990. If I remember right, one son had power of attorney and sold the land from under his father's nose. Too bad. It was a great place.

travis 4 years ago

Would love to see a good rock climbing wall.

Olive 4 years ago

Sorry but with the looming cuts in state budgets and future job loss due to those cuts we need to be more fiscally responsible. It is not in the best interest of taxpayers to get into a huge project until we are in better economic shape. I prefer to have a smaller facility that is for residents of Lawrence and skip the complex. I want a local recreation center at 6th and Wakarusa.

The land donation is nice but it does seem to be tied to developers not what is best for Lawrence residents.

Flap Doodle 4 years ago

Taxidea taxus serves important functions in the world of nature. They do calisthenics in close quarters with snakes and mushrooms. Sometimes, they point out obvious folly. This habit is not always appreciated or valued.

2girls28 4 years ago

As a parent of two kids who participate in different sports thoughout the year, I would love to see options for practice facilities and the opportunity to host tournaments. With the limited facilities, we often practice later in the evening on school nights, just to get gym space. We also take the whole family into Johnson County many weekends to attend games - not complaining- it's our choice. But we also spend on dining, gas, etc. while we are there. Would like to have some of those tax dollars stay here!

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