Subscribe to the email edition of Town Talk and we'll deliver you the latest city news and notes every weekday at noon.
News and notes from around town:
• Let the junk wars begin. For years there largely have been two outlets in town if you want to sell your scrap metal and other such material — Lonnie’s Recycling in North Lawrence and the 12th and Haskell Recycling Center.
But now a large national company is looking to enter the Lawrence market. Advantage Metals has filed a site plan to locate a recycling center at the old Kaw Valley Salvage Yard site at 1545 N. Third Street, which is just west of TeePee Junction in North Lawrence.
Plans call for the company to remove the three northern-most buildings on the old Kaw metals site, and replace them with a new 14,000-square-foot building.
Advantage Metals is based in Kansas City, but also has locations in Topeka, Fort Scott, Columbus, Emporia, and several cities in Missouri. (That’s right Mizzou fans. Those are actually salvage yards, not art galleries.)
But according to the company’s Web site, Advantage Metals is actually part of a much larger national company. Advantage’s parent company is the David J. Joseph Company, a fairly large scrap broker/processor based in Cincinnati. DJJ’s parent company, in turn, is the Charlotte-based Nucor Corporation, which generally is considered to be the largest purchaser of ferrous scrap metal in the U.S.
An executive at Advantage Metals didn’t return my call on Thursday, so I don’t have all the details of what its Lawrence operation may include. But based on the company’s Web site, it appears the business will accept about any type of metal — including cars, appliances, lead acid batteries, electric motors … well, if I list everything made of metal this is going to take awhile. I’m not seeing anything that suggests the company will take other types of recyclable material such as paper, plastic and electronic scrap such as cell phones and computer monitors.
Advantage is seeking a special-use permit to operate the salvage yard, which means the project will need to win both Planning Commission and City Commission approvals.
• I mentioned the 12th and Haskell Recycling Center earlier. If you remember, it has been embattled of late. Neighbors have complained about noise, odor and other issues related to the facility. City commissioners, thus far, have sided with the neighbors and ordered the city’s staff to take enforcement action to shrink the size and scope of the facility.
Well, there’s a new development on that front. Recycling center owner Bo Killough and his Lawrence attorney Brad Finkeldei have submitted a new proposal to modify the facility. Among the changes they have proposed:
— Move the intake operations to the east side of the building, which will allow the loading and unloading of materials to be done farther from the neighborhood than the current configuration.
— Build a specially designed sound wall — perhaps as tall as 24 feet — around the metal loading area.
— Construct a “few additional structures and enclosed containers” to reduce the amount of outside storage of materials and limit the amount of movement of material within the site.
— Eliminate all access points on 12th Street, meaning that all traffic to the center will have to use Haskell.
— Add landscaping along the facility’s south edge, which is closest to the neighborhood.
Finkeldei also is pointing out to commissioners that the center does have a community of supporters. He has presented a petition of 600 names of individuals who support the center, and he noted several of those signatures come from residents of the nearby neighborhood.
But the new proposal won’t please everyone. I briefly checked in with Andrea Repinsky, who has been among those leading opposition to the scrap yard. She told me she still believes the existence of a salvage yard at that location is contrary to what city code allows and the operation has not received the necessary city permits to operate on the site. She’s still lobbying for the center to move to a new location.
The city’s Board of Zoning Appeals is tentatively scheduled to hear an appeal from Killough at its April 5 meeting. Finkeldei is urging city commissioners to accept this latest proposal as a resolution to the case against the center. As Finkeldei put it in his letter to city officials, acceptance of the proposal will “avoid the costly and time consuming litigation that will arise out of the pending enforcement action.” In other words, the 12th and Haskell Recycling Center doesn’t plan to go quietly into the night.
No date has been set yet for city commissioners to consider the new proposal.
• Get your hardhats out. The Lawrence Public Library expansion project is about to take another step toward construction. City commissioners at their Tuesday meeting are scheduled to select Lawrence-based B.A. Green Construction as the construction management firm for the $19 million expansion. The decision will mark a victory for the Lawrence construction industry. B.A. Green was the only local construction company to get an interview from the city selection team. Somewhat surprisingly, the city chose not to interview Lawrence-based Gene Fritzel Construction or Lawrence-based First Management Construction for the project.
City staff members are recommending B.A. Green because of its experience in completing local government projects — it built the Community Health Building several years ago — and its relatively low fees compared to the Kansas City and Topeka firms it was competing against.
As for the fees, the company will receive a $37,250 upfront payment to oversee preliminary work that must be done before construction actually begins. The company then will receive a construction services fee of 2.5 percent of the bid amounts of subcontractors and a 3.5 percent fee for the general site work that the company will conduct itself. In other words, about 6 percent of the construction costs of the project will go to the company.
As the construction manager, B.A. Green will be the closest thing to a general contractor on the site. The company will oversee the construction and will lead the city’s efforts to secure subcontractors for the project. One of the key things B.A. Green will do is create various packages of bids — such as electrical work, concrete work, etc. — that area construction firms will then compete for.
But first in line for B.A. Green will be an analysis of the project to determine how much money could be saved if the library collection temporarily leaves its current location during construction. That would require the library to find temporary space elsewhere in the community because library leaders have promised that library services will continue to be offered throughout the construction project.