News and notes from around town:
• This project hasn’t exactly put the "K" in quick. Officials with Kwik Shop in January filed plans with City Hall to rebuild and expand their Kwik Shop location at 19th and Massachusetts streets.
The project, though, still hasn’t won the necessary approvals from City Hall. Mary Miller, the lead planner for the project at City Hall, told me she is now expecting Kwik Shop officials to submit new plans for the project because city officials have indicated the current plans try to put too much development onto the 19th and Mass. corner.
“The way it is proposed right now, it is hard for us to see how it all would work,” Miller said.
The current plans call for the new store to be about 40 percent larger than the existing Kwik Shop. But the real changes are with the number of gasoline pumps at the location. The current store has two double-sided pumps, meaning there are four places to fill up. The new plans call for six double-sided pumps, meaning 12 vehicles could be on the site trying to fill up at any one time.
The project does try to add space by moving the building to the east. If you recall, there is an empty grass lot directly east of the Kwik Shop building. The current plans call for the new building to be located on the back third of that lot, or a little more than 30 feet or so from New Hampshire street.
But that design puts the 24-hour convenience store closer to homes that are along New Hampshire street. But New Hampshire Street is not expected to become a new vehicular entrance to the store. Miller said the current proposal only has an entrance for a trash truck to service a Dumpster. The store, though, will add a new sidewalk along New Hampshire Street and will have a pedestrian entrance on New Hampshire to encourage neighborhood residents to walk to the store.
Anyway, several folks had asked about the progress of a new Kwik Shop. It looks like it will be at least several more weeks before the company even has the necessary approvals to begin work at the location. Much to their chagrin, I suspect, Hy-Vee will beat Kwik Shop to the punch of having a new convenience store in town. In case you were wondering, that construction work at the southwest corner of Clinton Parkway and Crossgate is for a new Hy-Vee convenience store.
Kwik Shop is owned by the Kroger Company, which is the giant company building the new Dillons store just a bit north of the Kwik Shop site. I’ve also had questions about when that store is scheduled to open. City commissioners gave the store the necessary approvals in July 2011. At that time Dillons officials said construction likely would take 10 to 12 months to complete. But work didn’t begin right away. Dillons demo work began in early November, so here is guessing the store will be open by Thanksgiving.
But guessing is all I’m doing at the moment. I’ve called Dillons corporate office a couple of times for comment, but they haven’t exactly put the “back” in the phrase call back.
• Kwik, kwik, sign this guy up for father-of-the-year. The good folks at the Bowersock Mills & Power Company passed along this story as way of an example of what they would like to see less of: As water levels on the Kansas River have dropped, more people have been attempting to go onto the top of the Bowersock Dam to fish.
Last weekend, one father was out on the top of the dam — near the south end — with his young kids. When Bowersock officials told him that wasn’t safe and asked him to leave, he became belligerent. When the police arrived, the man took off running toward the north end of the dam but left his kids on the south end of the dam because they apparently were too young to pull themselves up over the toe of the dam. (Now, that’s just good parenting. If you help your kids run from the police, they’re never going to learn to do it on their own.)
Bowersock officials told me that was just one of four incidents last weekend. Bowersock leaders are concerned someone is going to get hurt. They stressed that even though water may not be rushing over the top of the dam at a particular moment, a slight change in operations at the Bowersock power plant could cause that to change in a hurry.
Bowersock leaders also said federal regulations require them to do all they can to keep the public off the top of the dam, and that includes calling the police and pursuing trespassing charges against anyone found on the dam.
• Here’s a quick leftover from last week’s City Hall trash and recycling discussion. There still may be hope for the small curbside recycling companies that currently operate in Lawrence.
Mayor Bob Schumm made a comment that was a bit of an eye-opener in regard to a possible city-wide curbside recycling service. The owner of one of the small recycling companies attended the meeting and said if the city did start its own curbside recycling company, it would be nice if the city did something to buy out the small companies that would be shut out of the Lawrence market.
But Schumm said the small companies may be assuming too much. The mayor said he isn’t yet convinced that having one single provider do all the curbside recycling in the city is the way to go. He said it is possible the city may choose to have multiple companies that are licensed to do curbside recycling service.
Schumm didn’t go into any specifics, but he indicated there could be a system where the city would be in charge of sending out bills — as part of its monthly utility billing system — but residents would be responsible for choosing which service provider they want to use. That could open up the possibility of different types of service levels. Perhaps Provider A won’t take glass at the curb but Provider B might.
It is hard to see how a multiple provider system would be more efficient than a single provider system, but City Hall is very much into touting itself as a friendly place for business, so commissioners may balk at putting about a half-dozen small recycling companies out of business.
While we’re on the subject, I’ve also had questions about the state law we reported on that essentially will stop the city from starting a new mandatory, citywide curbside recycling service until at least 2014.
Specifically, people have been asking whether Rep. Paul Davis, D-Lawrence, knew anything about this law. Folks have been interested in Davis because he has been very active in the trash and recycling scene in Lawrence. Davis is a local attorney who has Deffenbaugh Industries — the giant trash and recycling company out of Kansas City — as one of his clients. As such, Davis attended almost every one of the city’s Solid Waste Task Force meetings. He never alerted the task force of any state law that would delay the city’s ability to start a curbside recycling program.
I recently caught up with Davis, and he said the reason he didn’t alert the city is because he didn’t know. Although he was in the Legislature at the time the bill was passed, he didn’t recall that provision of the law. If he had, he said he would have alerted the city, which was caught off guard by the law. Davis also pointed out that the law isn’t a popular one with his client, at least not in regard to the Lawrence situation. He said Deffenbaugh wants the city process to move quicker not slower. The company is interested in submitting a bid to serve as the city’s curbside recycling provider.