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Archive for Monday, March 5, 2012

Plenty of events coming to Downtown Lawrence, including some that might close streets

March 5, 2012

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A 16-pound steel ball, lots of spandex and a few detours are all on tap for Downtown Lawrence.

As the temperatures rise, so to will the number of downtown events and associated street closings. Lawrence city commissioners are set to approve four of them at their meeting on Tuesday evening. Here’s a look:

David Kraus, senior maintenance worker with Lawrence’s Public Works Department, marks off an area at Eighth and New Hampshire streets that will be transformed into a large shot put arena for the Kansas Relays April 18-21. In the background, city and KU Athletics officials discuss the logistics of the field event. Construction of the arena will take place the week of the relays.

David Kraus, senior maintenance worker with Lawrence’s Public Works Department, marks off an area at Eighth and New Hampshire streets that will be transformed into a large shot put arena for the Kansas Relays April 18-21. In the background, city and KU Athletics officials discuss the logistics of the field event. Construction of the arena will take place the week of the relays.

• Kansas Relays shot put competition. At 6 p.m. April 18 — a Wednesday evening — city crews once again will convert the intersection of Eighth and New Hampshire streets into a world-class shot put ring.

The event made headlines last year by becoming the first sanctioned U.S. shot put event held on a downtown city street, relay officials said. The event attracted about 2,500 spectators, and organizers said it was an easy decision to bring the event back to downtown: Very big men who throw 16 pound shot puts told them to do so.

“The throwers just loved it,” said Milan Donley, director of the Kansas Relays. “After the event, they told us we had to do this again. And they all have agreed to participate again.”

Donley said 11 competitors are expected to compete, including former world champions, Olympic medalists and several throwers who are expected to compete in the Olympic Games in London this summer.

The event will close the 100 block of East Eighth Street and the Eighth and New Hampshire intersection from 6 a.m. April 18 to 6 a.m. April 19, in order to give crews time to set up and tear down the shot put ring.

Organizers are asking for city approval to allow alcohol sales on the public right-of-way surrounding the shot put area. Organizers also plan to add bleachers around the ring to accommodate a larger crowd.

• Kansas Relays long jump competition. At 6 p.m. April 19, world class long jumpers will take over the 100 block of West Eighth Street. But this year the event will shift from a men’s competition to a women’s competition. Donley expects a field of eight women. The block would be closed to traffic and parking from noon to midnight on April 19. Like the shot put event, organizers also are seeking approval for outdoor alcohol sales around the venue.

• Tour of Lawrence bicycle race. About 700 bicyclists are expected to be in town June 29 through July 1 for the fourth annual Tour of Lawrence. Bob Sanner, executive director of the Lawrence Sports Corporation, said the event is growing in popularity, and organizers are increasing the prize payouts from $20,000 to $25,000.

“It takes two or three years for riders to figure out we’re on the calendar,” Sanner said. “I’m planning on this being our break out year.”

Last year, the event attracted riders from 16 different states, and included about 15 professional riders.

The races, though, do take up large amounts of downtown city streets. On June 29 — a Friday — downtown will host a street spring race at 7 p.m. on parts of New Hampshire Street. The event will require the 700 block and part of the 800 block of New Hampshire Street to be closed from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. In addition, the 100 block of East Eighth Street will be closed from 3 p.m. to 11:00 p.m. Also the western half of the 200 block of East Eighth Street will be closed from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m.

On June 30, the races move to a course that largely will be Kansas University’s campus. Then on July 1, the event will move back to downtown for a criterium race, a form of lap racing on parts of Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Vermont streets. That race will require all of Massachusetts Street from Seventh to 10th Streets to be closed from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. New Hampshire Street from Eighth to 10th streets also will be closed during that time period, as will Vermont Street from Seventh to Eighth streets.

As in past years, organizers are asking the city to contribute $10,000 to help cover expenses for the event. Commissioners also are being asked to allow outdoor alcohol sales in designated areas of downtown as part of the event.

• Rev it Up Hot Rod Hullaballoo. Local promoters Stephen and Michelle Chronister are seeking approval to close down part of Massachusetts Street on Aug. 11 for the second annual car show.

The event will close Massachusetts Street from 11th to 13th streets. The event would be a fund-raiser for local charities. Last year, the event raised $6,400 for Big Brothers/Big Sisters.

Commissioners meet at 6:35 p.m. on Tuesday at City Hall.

— City reporter Chad Lawhorn can be reached at 832-6362. Follow him at Twitter.com/clawhorn_ljw

Comments

consumer1 2 years, 7 months ago

Shouldn't this wealth be spread around?? Why does 8th street get preference? What about 7th, 9th, 10th, and what about the streets on the other side of Mass? Doing it in the same place seems to show economic and political favoritism to the business's on that particular block.

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ltownatrain 2 years, 7 months ago

The part of 8th street they typically block off is by several bars so they really aren't showing preference as there are only a few businesses there open during daytime hours and because of this the traffic on 8th during the daytime hours is typically much less than 10th and 9th which if shut down pretty much means they shut down traffic flow altogether. In reality 8th is logistically the best street to shut down as it affects the least amount of people. 9th street is a fairly busy main street in the downtown area so closing it often really is not an option.

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headdoctor 2 years, 7 months ago

These activities don't always equal wealth. Some businesses might as well shut down for the day. I would gladly approve of them moving their butts to the fair grounds. Nothing like having access to your business totally blocked off. If they want to continue promoting these events I think it is about time they explore changing South Park so they have parking without shutting down streets and eliminating parking. The organizers want the city to donate $10K. I have a better idea. How about the organizers donate money to the businesses who get screwed over because of their event.

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Adrienne Sanders 2 years, 7 months ago

Do you have any actual concrete information (real data, not your opinion or something you heard thirdhand) about businesses that "get screwed over" or "might as well shut down"? I'd like to know if you do. For the most part I think they either get business from those participating in/ watching the event, or else their regular customers walk an extra block (OMG the HORROR) to get to where they want to be.

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JustNoticed 2 years, 7 months ago

It's ok if the evidence is asphalt with potholes.

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headdoctor 2 years, 7 months ago

That is the same mentality that the City uses when they approve these events. Most of these events are good for business as long as your business serves food, a bar, or hotel/motel.

As a matter of fact I have many years of records that show the effects every time they block off the street. It doesn't matter if they are blocking it off for bikes, car show, movie shoots or art.

Not everyone who posts here is just wasting time shooting their mouth off for fun.

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classclown 2 years, 7 months ago

At 6 p.m. April 18 — a Wednesday evening — city crews once again will convert the intersection of Eighth and New Hampshire streets into a world-class shot put ring.

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Do all the potholes have circles around them and they are assigned a point value?

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naysayers 2 years, 7 months ago

headdoctor... These types of activities showcase our city nationally, located downtown these events will benefit those store owners who take advantage of the RARE opportunities to welcome thousands of visitors from outside the Lawrence Bubble. Having our beautiful downtown and KU campus be the host locations is what will bring these events back and promote them to grow. Hiding our city, downtown, and university from these events and others will do nothing but damage our community. Douglas County has spectacular fairgrounds but it’s not the location for these types of events to be successful or produce the economic benefits possible by hosting them in the downtown area. Locate them to the fairgrounds… might as well have them compete in Olathe

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headdoctor 2 years, 7 months ago

I know that these activities are good for the promotion of Lawrence. Some of the street blocking times and locations work pretty good but the City refuses to consider anything different when it comes to South Park activities. I gave up trying to work with the City on this several years ago. I came up with a plan that works for me and the City pays dearly for their short sightedness.

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clovis_sangrail 2 years, 7 months ago

Since they are touting this as such a great boon to business, I would suggest they hit up the Chamber of Commerce and Downtown Lawrence for money instead of wallowing up to the taxpayer trough.

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ltownatrain 2 years, 7 months ago

And also as I mentioned that part of 8th street causes the least amount of traffic headaches which would i would imagine is the most logic around having it there. If you close 9th street you cause so many headaches it's not even worth it as 9th street is one of the main thoroughfares into downtown lawrence. For many of these events closing 9th and 10th street makes no sense because all we would do is completely confuse people not used to downtown as those along with 6th are how many people get to downtown from campus.

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ilovelucy 2 years, 7 months ago

This was a great moment to watch our city workers in action. There were 12 people standing around doing a job that 2 people could have done. It will be much more fun to watch the day they build the pit!!

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Richard Heckler 2 years, 7 months ago

Tourism will save the Lawrence economy not big box stores and lots of empty bedrooms. Do a sidewalk sale at the same time. Let's have some fun..... bring on the music I say Vera,Chuck and Dave.

I say alternate between 7th street and 8th street.

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Aimee Polson 2 years, 7 months ago

I love it! Bring on the outdoor events! Some are east of Mass, some are west of Mass, some are all over Mass, and I love them all!!! Hopefully my flip flops will not melt on the pavement this year.

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