Archive for Monday, November 12, 2012

Citywide election on proposed $25 million recreation center not likely

A map of the proposed layout of the Rock Chalk Park sports complex, proposed for about 90 acres north of the northeast intersection of Sixth Street and the South Lawrence Trafficway. Note that north on the map is to the right.

A map of the proposed layout of the Rock Chalk Park sports complex, proposed for about 90 acres north of the northeast intersection of Sixth Street and the South Lawrence Trafficway. Note that north on the map is to the right.

November 12, 2012


A proposed $25 million city recreation center/youth fieldhouse will come with several amenities, but a ballot box likely won’t be one of them.

Reader poll
Do you think the public should have the opportunity vote on the proposed rec center?

or See the results without voting


A majority of city commissioners recently have expressed no interest in putting the issue of whether to move forward with the project up to a public vote.

“My main thought is we did have a public election about this at one point,” said City Commissioner Hugh Carter.

The city is proposing to pay for about 85 percent of the proposed project with its share of revenue from an existing one-cent countywide sales tax that was approved by voters in 1994.

The ballot language in 1994 indicated the city would use the sales tax — which never expires — for three purposes: property tax reduction; funding for facilities for the Lawrence-Douglas County Health Department, Bert Nash Mental Health Center and Douglas County Visiting Nurses; and the “development and operation of parks and recreation facilities and programs.”

City commissioners at their meeting at 6:35 p.m. Tuesday will discuss the recreation center project. Commissioners will decide whether they want staff members to begin crafting formal agreements with the Kansas University Endowment Association to partner on a sports complex at a site just north of the northeast intersection of Sixth Street and the South Lawrence Trafficway. The project would include the city’s multigym recreation center, and several KU facilities including a softball stadium, track and field stadium and soccer field.

The idea of putting the $25 million recreation center to a vote has gained traction with some residents.

“We know a lot of people are interested in having a public vote because it is a huge outlay of money,” said Leslie Soden, a leader of a new citizen’s group called Madre Lawrence, which hasn’t taken an official position on the recreation center project. “One of the problems the city has been having with this project over the last six months is getting public buy-in of the project.”

Three of the four city commissioners the Journal-World was able to speak with in recent days, though, said they were not currently considering asking for voter approval of the project. All three — Mayor Bob Schumm, City Commissioner Mike Dever and Carter — pointed to the language on the 1994 ballot.

“I believe the understanding of the voters at that time is that the majority of the dollars would be spent to enhance our recreation facilities in the community,” Dever said.

The 1994 vote

Large amounts of the revenue generated from the 1994 sales tax have been spent on recreation projects. The city’s parks and recreation web site estimates more than $30 million has been spent on recreation projects since 1994.

The proposed recreation center — which would include eight gyms, a walking trail, fitness room and other amenities — would dwarf all previous recreation projects.

The next largest recreation project funded by the sales tax was the $9 million Lawrence Indoor Aquatic Center, which opened in 2001. Other major projects include:

• $3.2 million for Eagle Bend Golf Course in 1998.

• $2.9 million in renovations to the Lawrence Outdoor Aquatic Center.

• $2 million in renovations to the East Lawrence Recreation Center in 1997.

• $2 million for the Clinton Lake Softball Complex in 1997.

• $950,000 for Prairie Park Nature Center in 1999.

City officials have acknowledged that part of the reason the costs of the proposed recreation center now are at $25 million is because there is an economic development component to the project.

The city is projecting the large facility annually will attract about 30 events, such as youth tournaments and sports camps.

City officials haven’t put a number on how much a traditional recreation center would cost, but a year ago, the city was considering plans for a five-gym center that also would include a fitness room and walking track for $12 million in public funding and about $3 million in private funding.

When voters went to the polls in 1994, the idea of building a community recreation center was discussed — it was planned for Centennial Park — but the idea of building a 181,000-square-foot regional recreation center that would also serve as an economic development tool was not.

“I understand the question is whether this is an overreach in terms of economic development,” Mayor Bob Schumm said. “I don’t think it is. We will be able to serve some tournaments, which will be great, but we also have established the fact that we are severely short of indoor gym space for a community our size. This will meet a local need.”

Other needs

The 1994 ballot language, however, didn’t just address recreation projects. Property tax relief was a major selling point to the public. The city annually uses the sales tax to replace the equivalent of five mills of property taxes in its general operating fund. In 2012 that is about $4.2 million.

The ballot language also called for the “acquisition, construction and improvement of facilities” for Bert Nash, the Health Department, and Visiting Nurses.

During the campaign, that provision of the ballot generally was understood to refer to plans to build a new Community Health Building, which was constructed across from Lawrence Memorial Hospital.

The bonds for the health facility will be paid off in 2016, freeing up about $1 million a year for the city to spend on the recreation center project. But the 1994 ballot language doesn’t provide any indication on whether voters were assuming that the $1 million a year would be invested in recreation projects or whether it would be re-invested into other facility needs for the health organizations.

The ballot language also was written in a way to give the city authority to spend sales tax money on any other “general governmental purpose.”

Over the years, the city has used the sales tax money for a variety of purposes, most notably, spending between $350,000 to $500,000 a year on street maintenance, an item that wasn’t presented to the electorate in 1994.

City Commissioner Mike Amyx — who has expressed concerns about the costs of the proposed project — has said he doesn’t want to rule out the idea of a public vote on the matter.

“I’m hearing the question raised from time to time, and I think it is something to consider,” Amyx said. “We’re talking about a big project and we’re talking about issuing bonds for a big project.”


Joda Totten 5 years, 5 months ago

IF that is Carter's main thought, then he obviously lacks the skills of cogent thinking, and cannot function adequately on the city commission.

skinny 5 years, 5 months ago

I agree, Carter's anoglogy is flawed!

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 5 years, 5 months ago

In other words, the People Who Really Matter have told these commissioners that they want this thing, at taxpayers' expense, but finding out if taxpayers want it too might not deliver the "right" result-- so commissioners have been instructed not to put it up to a vote.

Bob Forer 5 years, 5 months ago

Funny how all of these expensive projects are proposed by the developers, who stand to make a pile of cash. Standard procedure is for a project to be developed by the citizenry or their elected reps, who then engage contractors once they know what they want. In Lawrence it is bass ackwards. The tail is wagging the dog.

gr 5 years, 5 months ago

Can't believe bozo said something which makes sense!

lawrencereporter 5 years, 5 months ago

In 1994 did anyone see a future commission handing to Thomas Fritzel the combination to the City's safe full of taxpayers money and saying "Take as much as you want nobody's looking". It's not if the City needs a new recreation center, it's how Schumm, Carter, and Dever are handing Thomas Fritzel a no-bid public project without blinking twice. Schumm can force feed the citizens of Lawrence with lousy BBQ but not with this lousy business deal paid for by the taxpayers. The community will be out more then just the inflated price of the building, Schumm and the City will approve IRB's for the entire project, meaning no real estate taxes, no sales tax on the construction or tax on materials collected, free water, unknown amount of money to maintain parking lots and a building that will be built to minimum standards. Why the favoritism, why no-bids, why the rush. The huge profit being paid to Fritzel and the other incentives are coming straight out of the taxpayer pockets. The long term loss of real estate tax collection alone is enough reason to question the commissioners Tuesday night. In 1994 this tax was approved for real City public recreation projects not to pad Thomas Fritzel pockets.

Cant_have_it_both_ways 5 years, 5 months ago

I can't believe that you are bashing these progressive public servents. Wasting other peoples money is what they do. The city is full of them. They only put to vote things that are popular so they can get their names on the placard attached to the corner stone.

Be careful what you ask for. We have a new library at the expense of our roads, bridges and law enforcement. We bus vagrents all over town at the expense of our children as they walk to school.... The list keeps going on.

patkindle 5 years, 5 months ago

i agree,, the liberals have stuffed the ballot box every time we have a gimmie vote like the bus, homless center, library, etc, no need to waste more tax money on an election, but just build it and the worker bees get to write the check to pay for it

jhawkinsf 5 years, 5 months ago

If people really want this put to a vote, there are ways to make it happen. It will require more work than posting comments in this forum, though.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 5 years, 5 months ago

For someone who posts as much as you do, it's quite ironic that you continually point out how irrelevant it is to post here.

jhawkinsf 5 years, 5 months ago

Less ironic than someone who posts far more than I, will post some more rather than do the actual work necessary to accomplish the very things they want accomplished. If you want something bad enough, do it. Or spend your time with a string of snarky remarks while expecting others to do the actual work. Your choice.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 5 years, 5 months ago

You have no idea what I will or won't do.

But thanks for expressing your fact-free opinion-- again.

jhawkinsf 5 years, 5 months ago

Then tell me what you are doing, Bozo. Enlighten me. Are you circulating petitions to have this matter brought before the voters? If so, how many signatures do you have? Where are you doing this work, I might just come down and sign. Or are you circulating petitions for the recall of city council members who are subverting the will of the people? Again, where are you so that I might sign?

Of course, my initial comment was not directed at you but more generally at those opposed to this project who want what you apparently want, a vote on the matter. So is Merrill out there gathering signatures as well? Is Sychophant along side you? Wilbur?

Be clear, I'm would not be opposed to a vote if I thought there would be a significantly large turnout such that I would be comfortable saying that the people have spoken. Unfortunately, that's not Lawrence's history. Very low voter turnout to me suggests that the will of the people can be achieved simply by having our elected officials make the decisions they were elected to make. And we save whatever costs would be associated with having a special election. But hey, if you really want it put to a vote, fine with me. Make it happen, my original point.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 5 years, 5 months ago

This is an opinion forum. If you want to discuss opinions, fine. If you want to make the discussion about me-- you know where you can put it.

jhawkinsf 5 years, 5 months ago

You first responded to me, not I to you. And you decidedly made it about me, then complain like a child when you're responded to in kind.

And to the questions I asked, your silence is deafening.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 5 years, 5 months ago

I commented on the substance of your remarks. I didn't demand to know what you do outside of this forum, or assume that I know what you do.

Richard Heckler 5 years, 5 months ago

When this 94 tax measure was passed it was about neighborhood rec centers pure and simple.

Neither a Field House nor reckless spending was approved no matter how the spin comes across.

Taking this document beyond the original concept and interpretation demands a vote by the taxpayers.

Do we want our tax dollars spent in this fashion? Yes or No

Should NW Lawrence have a neighborhood rec center? Yes or No

Would taxpayers rather have all the sidewalks in need of repair done so? This would enhance hundreds if not thousands of residents and their property values. Yes or NO

Should the 1994 sales tax be put to rest to prevent abuse? Yes or No

blindrabbit 5 years, 5 months ago

Out here West of the City Limits, laughing at the way the City is governed by a lacky group of City Commissioners. Why not put to a vote, maybe it would fail, maybe need to adopt the California style of putting things up to a referendum vote. My only gripe about the Rec Center being out West, it puts us closer to being grabbed up by the City

Richard Heckler 5 years, 5 months ago

Should the public taxpayers have the opportunity to vote on the $25 million Field House Project aka PLAY?

Operations could run $350,000 annually or more according to city hall.

Taxpayers have spent at least 20 million on PLAY by way of USD 497.

Bob Forer 5 years, 5 months ago

Absolute garbage!!!. Lawrence has changed quite a bit in 18 years. The electorate has changed vastly, and common sense tells us that decisions 18 years prior by a markedly different group of people cannot be extrapolated and ascribed to today's population.

So what if "[l]arge amounts of the revenue generated from the 1994 sales tax have been spent on recreation projects." Spending 30 million over 18 years (1.67 mil avg. per year) is qualitatively different than spending a like amount in one year for ONE project.

The commissioner have apparently already made up their minds, and are grasping at illogical straws to rationalize their decision.

The commission is acting contrary to generally accepted standards of democracy and decency.

Its time for the taxpayers to raise a little hell.

Bob Forer 5 years, 5 months ago

I am open to all suggestions. Perhaps a starting point is to pack the commission meeting with dissenters.

werekoala 5 years, 5 months ago

Do IT!!!

You would be surprised how fast those guys can roll over when they have a room full of pitchforks & torches. There's always a opportunity for public comment. Just get about 50 angry people to stand up & berate them for not wanting to let there be a vote.

After all, City Commission elections are this spring...

optimist 5 years, 5 months ago

I was originally in favor of thei project but the more I hear the more concern I have. It's not Fritzel I'm worried about. I frankly think the envy crowd of success haters here can't help themselves. In this case your being distracted by the wrong boogeyman. Consider this; KU is the driving force in this project and the greatest beneficiary. They would likely build all or most of it with or without the city's help. KU is demanding there be no bidding process and the city use the contractor they've selected. I suspect KU is receiving a financial benefit if this occurs. My even bigger concern is the language stating the city will maintain the facility indoors and out for the next 99 years. I am adamantly opposed to the city commission or sticking future commissions and more importantly future taxpayers with an unlimited liability for that long. Any commitment to the maintaining the facility should be limited to one generation, 20-25 years maximum.

Chad Lawhorn 5 years, 5 months ago

The city is planning on bonding the project. KUEA has not expressed an interest in offering the city the lease-purchase arrangement that was proposed when the project was moving forward at the west-of-the-SLT site. I've been told that as the project has grown, the lease-purchase arrangement has become less feasible. So, the city will hand over a $25 million check to KUEA when the city takes possession of the recreation center. The city will use sales tax revenues to make the annual payments on $21 million worth of the bonds. Property taxes will be used to pay the other $4 million worth of bonds. At the moment, the city is projecting it has enough in its bond and interest fund to pay the property tax-related bonds without having to raise taxes. Thanks, Chad

anotherview 5 years, 5 months ago

Here we go. More deficit spending at the local level. My guess is that the people that are in favor of this project are the same folks that rail at the federal government for deficit spending.

werekoala 5 years, 5 months ago

City commission meetings are every Tuesday night at 7pm. There is always a time for public comment. Oh, and elections for city commission are in April.

Just saying, if you all really wanna force them to take it to a vote, you probably can. Or at least you can force them through contorted justification if the fix is in.

If they're bound & determined to spend our tax dollars on this boondoggle, the least we can get out of it is the satisfaction of showing what kind of tools they are being.

Chad Lawhorn 5 years, 5 months ago

Just to be clear, the city commission meets at 6:35 p.m. on Tuesdays. Thanks, Chad

irvan moore 5 years, 5 months ago

since endowment has all that money they are sitting on why don't they build it themselves and reap the profits? maybe because the return really won't be what the "predictions" are and it won't bring in the return on their money they want

average 5 years, 5 months ago

There's peeing into the wind.

And there's peeing into the face of a category-5 hurricane.

Does no one on the city commission pay any attention to the happenings twenty miles west of them? The GOP supermajority has decided that it's full-speed-ahead on racing Mississippi and South Dakota to the lowest-tax, lowest-wage, first third-world-state in the US. Kobach directly is telling Lawrencians to "self-deport" to another state.

And we're building this instead of planning for the rainy day that is absolutely guaranteed?

Which explains why the developer hyenas are so adamant about getting this done NOW NOW NOW. If they wait even six months, the state's economic picture will have gotten bad enough that they couldn't pull this off. This is the last big grift before a very long economic winter and it has to happen NOW.

optimist 5 years, 5 months ago

So low taxes result in low wages? I like to say that I'm surprised to read something like that here but unfortunately I'm not. Texas and Florida are equally low tax states and they defy your conclusion. Government is not the end all be all. Individuals should be allowed to keep as much of there money as possible and taxes levied proportionately to pay for only those things only Government can do and are necessary. The current tax code is simply used by both parties to manipulate and punish Americans. Whenever Government uses money to manipulate behavior our freedom is diminished. If we want to stop the divisiveness in politics we need to make Government less relevant in our individual lives. We first do this by simplifying the tax code to a single page so that we all have a stake in this country. When a Presidential candidate can go before the people and say what with your vote I will increase taxes on the other guy to pay for what I want to give you I fear we are lost. I weep for my country.

repaste 5 years, 5 months ago

Do a little google search on wages in Florida and Texas while your crying.

Sharon Nottingham 5 years, 5 months ago

use for the "development and operation of parks and recreation facilities and programs.”...with a ku partnership I would seriously consider the legality of this use of the 94 tax $$. It only covers 85% anyway, we at least deserve a vote on the remaining 15% expenses and make the city stay within budget...which the proposal is already way overblown. Give us our ballot decision.

usesomesense 5 years, 5 months ago

I don't think the intent of the 1994 sales tax law was to use up all of those resources for the next 20 years on one project, leaving no funding to maintain or improve existing parks, the health building etc. Here's what will happen: 1. This project will be approved without voter consent. 2. KU will receive more benefit from the project than the public will 3. The city will need to find more funds to operate and maintain this facility 4. Existing parks and the public health buildings will start to crumble away. 5. Any sales tax or property tax that is scheduled to expire will be quietly 'renewed' as funds to pay for SOME of the above. 6. The city and county will ask for more tax dollars to fix our dilapidated parks and public health building because they spent the money elsewhere. 7. The city will ask taxpayers for more money to furnish this massive structure with workout equipment, basketball goals, office furniture etc. because they 'forgot' it wasn't included in the cost projections, so the thing will be useless until we pay up more money.

How about this: the argument is that there isn't enough gym space, SO BUILD A GYM! Furthermore; you could have a few small gyms around town, making them more accessible to the public and therefore more effective. And here's the real kicker - you don't even have to build buildings for them! Lease some space like other gyms do - then if the needs of the community change you can move the gym or close it.

If there was really this massive need for workout facilities, all of the gyms in town would be overflowing and they'd expand or new ones would come to town.

If I'm not mistaken there aren't any facilities on the southeast part of town, the southwest part of town or the northwest part of town. Could probably cover all three areas for less than half on a shorter term commitment, giving the city flexibility in the future.

Russell Fryberger 5 years, 5 months ago

Stop making sense, you'll anger the Fritzel establishment. The Lawrence powers that be seems to not want to improve any part of Lawrence other than that area that's dieing off as fast as they can build it. The 6th and Wakarusa area feels like Topeka every time I have to go out there.

Joe Hyde 5 years, 5 months ago

I'd wager that the local sales tax increase approved by voters in 1994 contains no language stating that the Lawrence City Commission must automatically sign off on recreational projects proposed by non-City entities (in this case KU Endowment Assn.), nor does the 1994 ballot language specify that commissioners shall have the authority to approve construction of projects that deliberately exclude the City of Lawrence from controlling the bidding process from the outset.

irvan moore 5 years, 5 months ago

the vote on the elected officials cramming this down our throats is going to come a little late, the reason for all the hurry up on this project is because it has to get done while this commission is sitting.

Pepe 5 years, 5 months ago

It sounds to me like the fix is in. My sense is that the overwhelming majority of citizens are against this, but the commission is going to approve this anyway. There seems to be no reasonable argument against an election to have the public vote on whether they want this. Likewise, there seems to be no reasonable explanation for not having an open bid process. This, combined with the outrageous argument that the result of an election from 18 years ago somehow gives them the authority to do this project leads to only one rationale conclusion -- something is rotten in Denmark.

This seems to be an example of local government at its worst.

average 5 years, 5 months ago

"But we have the sales tax revenue to spend" is dumb. We've been spending it fine. It means that we won't have the sales tax revenue for the next 30+ years to spend on all the other smaller recreation projects, public health facilities, street maintenance, etc, that we've been spending the sales tax on.

Richard Payton 5 years, 5 months ago

Well today is 2012 and a vote 18 years ago reflects the present. New residents should be allowed to vote in favor or against this project on merit alone.

jafs 5 years, 5 months ago

I certainly hope that the voters in Lawrence never vote again for a tax that never expires like this one, and for any that are too open-ended and open to interpretation.

I'm almost certain that this isn't the kind of project they had in mind when voting for a tax for recreation facilities, but the language isn't specific enough to hold them to that.

jhawkinsf 5 years, 5 months ago

I agree with you completely. But I do wonder, what do you think the people of Lawrence were saying when they voted for Misters Amyx, Carter, Cromwell, Dever and Schumm?

jhawkinsf 5 years, 5 months ago

My point is that we elect people to make decisions. Wouldn't it be a reasonable interpretation of those elections that we elected them to make decisions such as these? At least that's how I view things. I'd be interested in how others view what the role of these elected officials is or should be.

jafs 5 years, 5 months ago

Well, I wasn't here in '94, so I didn't vote for that tax.

And, I don't trust them to interpret this language in the way it was intended by the voters at the time.

jhawkinsf 5 years, 5 months ago

Fair enough. I too, was not here in '94.

Speaking just for myself, if I expect leaders to lead in Washington, I should probably expect them to lead in City Hall.

jhawkinsf 5 years, 5 months ago

Making tough decisions based on what you truly believe, and then be able to defend your convictions to the electorate.

Putting things to a vote sounds good, but the voters have made some pretty boneheaded decisions in the past. Prop. 13 in California comes to mind. Sometimes, gawd I hate to say this, but sometimes, voters don't have the temperament to make the correct decisions. I don't know if this would be the case here. But I don't know that it wouldn't.

It sort of sounds like you or others are arguing that the original vote in '94 was one of those poor decisions that the voters made. Maybe. I'm of the opinion that the more people vote, the less likely bonehead decisions will be made. If 16% of the electorate vote, poor decisions will be made. If 84% vote, it's more likely a good result will follow. Tell me which number will come out to vote and I'll tell you if I favor putting this to a vote.

jafs 5 years, 5 months ago

Yes, I think it was a bad decision.

And, I will never vote for such a loose, never ending tax increase like that.

I'm not sure that numbers alone guarantee better results, without the voters being well informed.

Ironically, of course, you know there are very low turnouts for city commission elections, right? So, following your theory, the commissioners that were elected may have been very bad decisions as well.

jhawkinsf 5 years, 5 months ago

Yes, I agree that voter turnouts are disappointingly low for city commission elections and I have little faith that they produce any better results than elections that have similarly low turnouts. That's why I'm neither in favor nor opposed to putting this before the voters. Just don't tell me it's the will of the people, or at least no more will of the people than just letting the city commissioners make the decision. Both are as legitimate as the other, assuming they have equally low turnouts.

jafs 5 years, 5 months ago

Well, generally I agree.

But, in this case, there may be a number of people here now who didn't vote for this tax, and who weren't even aware of it when they voted for city commissioners.

Now, of course, they do know about it, and how the commissioners seem likely to interpret and apply it, and they may have serious problems with that.

Ideally, of course, everybody would be very well informed, and they would have asked questions about this tax of candidates for city commission, but that's not the case. Were you aware of this tax, and how it might be used in this way when you voted in city commission elections?

I wasn't, as I recall, and it wouldn't have occurred to me to ask "Are you going to take tax revenue slated for recreational centers and use it to build a massive sports complex on the edge of town?"

jhawkinsf 5 years, 5 months ago

As I said, I was not here in '94 when the tax was first implemented and was unaware of it during the last city commission election. I was one of those uninformed voters I complain about. My fault.

keepingfingerscrossed 5 years, 5 months ago

You want to do something like this. And you can't give the employees a raise because you don't have the money. That is crazy, they work hard and you only want to give them 1%. BUT you throw money out the window all the time. But employees don't count that is bs.

Bruce Bertsch 5 years, 5 months ago

A couple of quick points...

  1. This is not a democracy, it is a Republic. You vote for representation and live with the results. Not every issue should be voted on.

  2. The bulk of this is paid for by KU not the city. KU, you know, the city's largest employer, the entity if it were not here would make Lawrence just another small town in Kansas. This project allows Kansas Athletics, Inc., to bring Big XII events to Lawrence which increases the amount of tax dollars collected. But, for most if you, I guess the idea of incresed revenue is a bad one.

Pepe 5 years, 5 months ago

I understood that KU Endowment is asking the city to pay $25,000,000 towards this project. Is this not correct?

average 5 years, 5 months ago

"The bulk of this is paid for by KU not the city".

Umm... that's not how I'm reading it. You could be right, but where are you getting that idea from?

Chad Lawhorn 5 years, 5 months ago

The $25 million comes from the city. But certainly the KU facilities — the track, the softball and the soccer venues — will cost tens of millions of dollars. I haven't seen a precise estimate of those costs yet. In other words, it is a little unclear how much the entire complex is going to cost, but the city's participation is capped at $25 million. I would suspect that KU's cost will be more than that, given they are building at least three new facilities. Thanks, Chad

blindrabbit 5 years, 5 months ago

Out here in the sticks, I have no dog in this game but, are KU, The City and the NCAA in agreement that this project does not violate some NCAA ruling about KU joining into an agreement of this type that later they discover not permitted because of recruiting violation issues. (Sorry for the run-on sentence). If not fully veted, this could end up being a real albatross for the city, especially if KU restricts usage due to some NCAA technical issues and The City is left out in the cold. Also, who owns the parking lot, is there going to be a parking fee for KU events, for City sponsored events, for routine daily use? I know from reading blogs on the Rec. Center subject that some of thes issues have be discussed is a cursory sort of way, but have they been fully veted with the Big12 and NCAA????

Chad Lawhorn 5 years, 5 months ago

KU Endowment is now proposing the city own the land that the recreation center will be located on. This is thought to solve any issues related to the NCAA ruling that the recreation center is a university venue, which would limit the city's ability to host basketball tournaments on the site because of recruiting regulations. So, in short, the city and KU believe they are OK with the NCAA on this deal. Thanks, Chad

George Lippencott 5 years, 5 months ago

Let we understand this. In 1994 some percentage of the 60K population voted for a sales tax with a fair amount of specificity provided by the then “lawgivers”. Nobody noticed that there was no sundown clause. Now the current “lawgivers” argue that the current 85K population (wonder how many actually were here and voted in 1994) are bound by the 20 year old vote even though there is an undercurrent seeking a new one.

Are our lawgivers convinced the voters actually support this initiative or are they afraid of the opposite and are intent on approving it with a hand wave to public opinion? I thought I lived in a progressive participatory city? (Are we not a blue dot in a red sea?) How can we argue about cuts in social services at the state level when our apparent highest priority is an additional recreation facility?

jafs 5 years, 5 months ago

Well, sort of yes.

It was a "countywide" vote, not a city vote. And, people may very well have "noticed", but didn't mind the lack of an end for this tax, although I would never vote for that sort of thing.

How long are votes like this valid, in your view? Should we be able to revisit each vote after a certain amount of time?

I really don't know if the county has any legal obligation to revisit the issue, once it's been voted on - it would of course be a nice gesture to do so.

Public opinion doesn't matter, if there's already been a chance to vote on the issue, as far as I know.

I agree about priorities in general, but not necessarily that we should have to make up for state cuts with local funding on issues that should correctly be done at the state level.

LadyJ 5 years, 5 months ago

Heck, it doesn't even look like we have a say in the name.

blindrabbit 5 years, 5 months ago

City is stuck with the City Commissioner form of government and continue to pay the price of favoritism, County Club elbow rubbing, and Chamber of Commerce buddyism. The City should strive to get a more professional operation by adopting a Strong Mayor form of govenment. As it is now, the Commissioners are rotated among a group of non-professional individuals in a popularity contest.

Richard Heckler 5 years, 5 months ago

Here we go again. Discussing a project with no real cost numbers available for the third or fourth time.

How many more times is this project going to change?

Where is it in print that KUEA will accept responsibility for all cost over runs?

How much will this project cost the taxpayers annually? Nobody knows. All we get are estimates.

Richard Heckler 5 years, 5 months ago

It is an assumption that we elect officials to spend any way they want. I have never subscribed to such nonsense.

This is not for the kids. This is for the Chamber of Commerce and the real estate industry. Of course the real estate industry owns the Chamber of Commerce.

The powers that be only see new housing sales which is quite a narrow vision and one that is not sustainable without increased taxes. Every time our water rate increases that is a tax increase. Every time admission to the swimming pool increases that is a tax increase. Every time another mile of infrastructure is laid out that is a tax increase. Every time the cost of anything goes up that is a tax increase. These increases can be forced down our throats to cover the cost of expansion.

Or cover the cost of this field house project. And the $20 million USD497 PLAY ( athletic project) which was and is a tax increase.

Richard Heckler 5 years, 5 months ago

This issue is no different than the library,the T or fixing potholes. This issue is Do Taxpayers WANT to spend the tax dollars this way?

Bob Schumm

Michael Dever

Hugh Carter

Mike Amyx

Aron E. Cromwell

Water 5 years, 5 months ago

Couldn't the Riverfront Mall be used as an indoor gym? It seems pretty empty to me and look at all of that parking space just sitting there. Seems to me the Riverfront Mall is readily accessible by bicyclists and joggers and walkers. We don't have to tear down or build much. There's even an outdoor patio overlooking the river that could be fun for martial arts training or aerobics or yoga. And there could be a couple of little joints serving whatever concoctions athletes are consuming before and after their workouts. See, there's the beginnings of a couple of tax paying businesses. Oh, and a sports clothes shop! And then people could just walk downtown for dinner or lunch or breakfast. Or walk to Liberty Hall and rent a movie. Oooohhh! Look at my business sense!!

Water 5 years, 5 months ago

I do appreciate those who want to create space for people to do something, besides eat.

We have plenty of restaurants in Lawrence and it seems we spend an awful lot of time in front of a computer or TV or smart phone. And some of us imbibe really good beer which is readily available and reeeeeaalllly tasty. We drive too much and walk to little. We need to encourage people to move.

When I was a kid, I lived in a neighborhood next to a big undeveloped field of grass, trees and a pond. We mowed the grass and played softball, football, soccer, frisbee, golf (we made our own 5 hole course) and hot box, 500, yard darts, horse shoes, launched rockets all on that one patch of ground. Developers have been building or filling in a lot of the empty lots in Lawrence, leaving fewer places to play catch or croquet or unconstructive play.

When I see that football stadium, I see a play area that is too far to walk to. It's walled in and gated, so play time can be restricted. Only boys (and a few girls) play football. I can't name one person I know personally, who plays football. Stadium seating means another chance for 30 guys to exercise while 1000s eat and watch.
I'd rather see the space where the football stadium is located be a big rectangle of grass where THE PUBLIC can just walk onto it and play.

When I see a stadium, I sense it means only certain people can, at certain, times get in there to recreate. A big patch of grass is cheaper to create and maintain and will get more use than a stadium.

MoralVictory 5 years, 5 months ago

This project could be a huge plus for Lawrence. This is exactly the type of pro-community development that was envisioned by the electorate when we passed this tax in the 90's.

The original passage of the tax was directly tied to the construction of a large fitness/health facility for the community - which was eventually set aside due to mass hysteria created by a private gym owner on 6th Street.

It's about time that Lawrence move forward, think big and strive for greatness.

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