Archive for Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Rec questions

It might be better to get a number of questions about a proposed recreation complex answered before moving ahead with actions that will commit taxpayer dollars.

May 15, 2012


At tonight’s meeting, Lawrence city commissioners are scheduled to consider the first formal action on a proposed super-large recreation complex at the northeast corner of the intersection of Sixth Street and the South Lawrence Trafficway.

The site, approximately 150 acres, is to be annexed into the city and given the appropriate zoning to accommodate various athletic and commercial activities. The project is on a fast-track schedule even though there are many aspects of the development that deserve public scrutiny, perhaps before the acreage is taken into the city and assigned specific zoning.

For example, what will be the cost of extending city services to the city, and who will pay these costs: the city, the developers or the users? Then there’s the matter of who will be in charge of the proposed development and facilities: the public, city recreation officials, university athletic department officials or coaches, the developer or one or two large athletic companies such as Nike or Adidas?

One of the features of the proposed recreation center is an outdoor running track. It is reported one of the parties pushing for the development claimed he could deliver the Kansas University track, now in Memorial Stadium to the development. Another individual associated with the track has proposed an AAU track.

What’s the difference and why should it matter? The big question is who could use the track. KU does not allow the general public to use its track. Would it change policies and allow the public to use its track if it is part of the northwest development? It is believed an AAU track would be open for the public’s use. Which would Lawrence residents prefer?

Another major question is who would control and schedule events at the center. The major feature of the development is said to be a massive indoor arena that could house eight or more full-sized basketball courts. Who has dibs on using these courts, and who will pay for their use?

It would seem these and many other matters should be discussed by city and university officials, maybe even county officials, before the project is set in motion and taxpayers are asked to pay the bills.

A first-class, world-class recreation development would be a tremendous asset for Lawrence, KU and a large area of northeast Kansas. It could be a winner in every respect.

However, the cozy relationship of the developers, university officials and City Hall people and the almost-record pace with which this project is being packaged and advanced, raises the question of whether an expensive and fully loaded cart is being approved before the horse (the public and its tax dollars) is in place and ready to deliver the goods.


Steve Jacob 6 years, 1 month ago

I agree with all of this. I don't mind forking over money to developers for future growth and a rec center, but be honest with the cost. I already think we where lied to about the library, it's going to take more then the $18M bond, so city hall/our taxes will have to chip in millions more.

cato_the_elder 6 years, 1 month ago

Header: "It might be better to get a number of questions about a proposed recreation complex answered before moving ahead with actions that will commit taxpayer dollars."

For decades now, this same statement has applied to every similar touchy-feely pet project in Lawrence that's at first ginned up by small groups of zealots and then rammed through because only very few elected officials have the guts to say "no." No one ever fully vets the real costs, including most importantly the later ongoing operational costs, before the taxpayers wind up getting stuck with the ever-increasing tab once again.

kansasredlegs 6 years, 1 month ago

  1. Stand up straight, feet shoulder width apart.
  2. Bend over at the waist.
  3. Grab ankles.
  4. Grit teeth.

Lawrence Morgan 6 years, 1 month ago

For once, I agree with oneeye_wilbur. He's right on, in every way from branch libraries to serving only a small part of town.

westside_lawrence 6 years, 1 month ago

So what's the proposed new sales tax rate in Lawrence? 11% or 13%? What about property taxes? oneeye_wilbur already pointed out location flaws. Who came up with the "brilliant" idea of building this rec center?

softsun 6 years ago

Great News! The City recognizes the need for having several alternatives for builders and designers of the recreation village. The recreation center has waited in line behind the library and needs to assure its costs are not millions in cost overruns beyond that the public is being sold. The facility should be constructed by a company who has actually built a sports complex. The cost overruns the builder has on the Library could jeopardize the project and Hotel Oread?? (is Douglas County or the City of Lawrence receiving property tax on all or just a few of the high dollar condos in the Oread Hotel complex?) Recreation center cost over runs could jinks the recreation center project if corners are not pinned down. My bet is the land owner is not going to let go of his gift go until they are assured the sports complex is not a cash cow of cost over runs for the builder who apparently assumes the project is his? Why? What is so special about S . Thomas of Lawrence? As NutsForKU said: "Back when it was passed the special 1 cent sales tax was said to end at some point and do believe we have reached that point so shouldn't it be retired and a new vote for further projects to be funded with a new tax be held?" Does Cromwell vote on Fritzel related projects since he is married to a Fritzel, if not legally required at least out of appearing questionable? June 20, 2012 at 12:04 p.m. clawhorn (Chad Lawhorn) replies… The countywide one-cent sales tax didn't have a sunset provision. The more recent city sales taxes for infrastructure and public transit do have sunsets, but not the countywide one. Thanks, Chad So why does S . Thomas of Lawrence assume the project is his to build? It is so wise of the City to have its own GouldEvans and partner John Wilkins present several preliminary design. How about some alternative builders? It is a GREAT project for Lawrence: — The facility would be designed to have 12 basketball courts in operation at any one given time. Court sizes would range from 50 feet by 70 feet to 50 feet by 84 feet, depending on how the center is configured for a particular tournament. The facility also could be configured to accommodate 12 volleyball courts. — The gym space would be equipped with wood floors, eight scoreboards and would be wired to accommodate video monitors. The gyms would be built in a large open area of about 85,000 square feet. The gyms could be separated by motorized curtains. — For a large event, such as a championship game of a tournament, the gym area could accommodate a crowd of about 2,000 people, using roll out bleachers and an overhead gallery space. — About 7,000 square feet of the building would be devoted to a wellness center. Details of that facility haven’t yet emerged. City officials are hopeful Lawrence Memorial Hospital will become involved in the project and come up with specific ideas for the wellness space. Wellness is a great idea!! Go LMH!!

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