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Archive for Friday, October 12, 2012

Rec center? Try rec park

City leaders get a look at the latest plans for a sports complex that could grow to be 100 acres

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.

October 12, 2012

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Rock Chalk is set to get quite a bit louder in northwest Lawrence.

Architects have filed the most detailed plans yet with Lawrence City Hall for a proposed sports complex that would house multiple facilities for Kansas University and the city of Lawrence.

Planners also have submitted a name for the complex that could grow to more than 100 acres in size: Rock Chalk Park.

“It really is going to function more like a park than an institutionalized set of buildings,” said Lawrence Mayor Bob Schumm. “I think there will be a level of amazement throughout the region when they see it in full operation. It will be unbelievable for our prestige when it comes to our amateur sports offerings.”

As previously reported, the plans still call for a new city recreation center/youth fieldhouse, and several KU athletic venues including a track-and-field stadium, soccer field and softball stadium.

But the new plans also show how expansive the project — slated for vacant property north of the northeast corner of Sixth and the South Lawrence Trafficway — could become. Plans call for eight lighted tennis courts to be built adjacent to the city’s recreation center, with room for a dozen more in future years.

The plans also now show a 4,000-seat amphitheater that would be near the city’s recreation center and nestled along the banks of Baldwin Creek, which runs through the property.

“I would hope you could have some plays and some musicals out there,” Schumm said. “With the arts in this town, I think there would be a lot of opportunities. I think it could be a fun place to be out on a summer evening.”

The area along the creek and adjacent property that the city already owns is being planned to have five to six miles of trails that could be used for everything from nature walks to cross country courses, Schumm said.

But the plans also show an area — the southeast point of the property most visible from the South Lawrence Trafficway — housing a small arena of 5,000 seats or less. The plans label the arena as future development, and both architects and KU officials said there are no immediate plans for when the arena may be built or what it would house.

“We’re really just trying to show how we can leave some appropriate areas that could add future uses that would be of interest to KU or other users,” said John Wilkins, an architect with Lawrence-based Gould Evans, which is designing the project in conjunction with Lawrence-based Paul Werner Architects.

KU officials said they are pleased with the plans they have seen thus far.

“We’re very excited about the possibilities this site presents,” said Jim Marchiony, a KU associate athletic director. “We think the addition of the recreation center adds to the attraction of it. The athletes will be excited about playing in such a comprehensive sports venue. We think the site will draw many events to the city of Lawrence.”

Here’s a look at other details from the plans filed at Lawrence City Hall:

• The city’s recreation center/youth fieldhouse is still planned to be about 181,000 square feet. The building — which will include a multitude of gyms, a fitness center and more indoor recreation space — is slated for the far north end of the site, near Baldwin Creek.

• KU facilities proposed to be built as part of the first phase of the project include: a track and field stadium with 7,500 permanent seats and 2,500 temporary seats; a soccer field with 2,500 seats; and a softball field with 1,000 seats.

• Plans show 1,400 paved parking spots as part of the complex, with other open areas that could accommodate overflow parking.

• The KU portion of the project would include more than just outdoor sports fields. The plans also include all the necessary locker rooms, press boxes, concession areas and other amenities. In addition, the plans call for a 15,000-square-foot, two-story “training facility” to be built on site.

• Two new roads are planned as part of the development. A new road would run west from where George Williams Way currently dead ends. It is tentatively planned to be named Rock Chalk Drive. George Williams Way also would be extended north to lead into the large parking lot for the complex. A new road to serve the interior of the complex also would be built. It is scheduled to be named Rock Chalk Parkway.

• Thus far, all the improvements are slated for 89.8 acres that are directly north and west of where George Williams Way currently dead ends. But the property that is slated to be purchased by Kansas University Endowment also includes 19.7 acres that are farther north and west. Plans currently show that property remaining vacant but being available for expansion in the future.

Schumm said city and KU officials continue to work on agreements related to the financial aspects of the partnership. The city previously has identified $1.2 million a year in sales tax money that it currently receives that it could use for the next 20 years to pay for the recreation center. It has also looked at issuing additional city debt to pay for needed infrastructure improvements in the area.

All the financial agreements, plus several land use issues, will have to come to the City Commission for formal approval. Many of those issues could be up for approval before the end of the year.

“I think by spring, you could see some construction activity out there,” Schumm said.

Comments

Richard Heckler 2 years, 2 months ago

Try reckless spending of YOUR tax dollars and mine.

Put this matter to a vote. Plenty of taxpayers want this matter put to a vote as commissioners know darn well. They've heard this request from many many sources.

For the cost of this rec center Lawrence,Kansas could have approximately 250 miles of a SAFE walking and biking network throughout Lawrence = convenient exercise opportunities. Far more local taxpayers would use this investment than will ever use this extravagant field house.

As an investment in economic growth this Field House concept has been ruled a risk rather than a safe investment.

Paul Wilson 2 years, 2 months ago

I can't believe I'm actually going to say this.... I agree with you...sort of. Theater Lawrence is going in a mile away as we speak....why an amphitheater? Another luxury used by a few Lib snobs....like Theater Lawrence. Not on board with a bunch of asphalt paths though. How bout we just quit spending money? Novel concept huh?

Topple 2 years, 2 months ago

I must have missed the Lawrence census that showed West Lawrence is exclusively conservative. What's your source?

chootspa 2 years, 2 months ago

He claimed almost exclusively, but I'd have just gone with "more." It ain't wrong. Here's some data: http://www2.ljworld.com/elections/2010/nov/02/races/us-senate/

Paul Wilson 2 years, 2 months ago

"That part of town is almost exclusively Rep / Conservative." Prove it. "Not everything you don't like isn't the fault of a few libs." Huh?? Theater is like soccer....full of snobs. Liberals are arrogant snobs that have loads of compassion with everyone else's money.

LogicMan 2 years, 2 months ago

Will this be the planned "Olympic Village" that will finally allow removal of the track from Memorial Stadium? If so, it's a much needed move so that the stadium's capacity can be expanded and many fans can be closer to the action.

Keith 2 years, 2 months ago

Action? From the visiting team maybe.

LawrenceTownie 2 years, 2 months ago

Sounds to me like it is an already wrapped up deal with Mr. Schumm's last statement of "I think by spring, you could see some construction activity out there". A vote by the people whose taxes will be paying for it seems reasonable to me. What construction company will be building this complex? Will it hire local or go outside the area? And with KU Endowment having the adjacent property for "expansion", WOW. More growth for the future, more taxes. How can a supposed "retirement" town be expected to stay friendly for older people? TAX, TAX, TAX. With it being so close to I-70, I think they plan to have it for the "out of towners" and not the people who live here and will be paying for it. Wake up people, we are still in a recession. Evidently, the people planning this have no money problems.

Sue McDaniel 2 years, 2 months ago

I vote for nothing that does not put in a outdoor pool for west Lawrence.

jhawkinsf 2 years, 2 months ago

If history is any indication, very few voters will actually show up if this were put to a vote. Should that happen, the results would be no more indicative of the community's overall feelings than simply having our elected officials decide. That said, if you put a signed petition in front of the commissioners with more signatures of registered voters than the number that actually voted for each commissioner, then they would be forced to listen. So whether you're in favor or against, hit the pavement and do some real work. Otherwise, you're just getting the government you deserve.

Topple 2 years, 2 months ago

This thing is starting to look like it's just going to be more of an extension to the KU campus than an actual recreation center for the community.

It appears we've pointed out everything that KU will be reserving at this place. What will actually be usable by the COMMUNITY?

Bob Reinsch 2 years, 2 months ago

Facilities like this catch the eye of businesses looking for a new location.

Sharon Nottingham 2 years, 2 months ago

may as well call it Rock Chalk Rec Center. I want a vote on how my tax dollars are used.

classclown 2 years, 2 months ago

Any chance we can claim that it's sacred ground? What if we build one of those stoner wheel things out near there?

Don Whiteley 2 years, 2 months ago

This is obscene! We don't have sufficient funds to keep our schools open or staff them with teachers, but we have funds to build a drive-up window and a parking garage at the library and now this? Lawrence residents are supposed to be so liberal minded, yet they throw their support and their votes behind money-wasting projects such as these while they stand by and watch their schools crumble.

jafs 2 years, 2 months ago

We don't have a vote on this project, so your statement that Lawrence residents would support it is speculative.

Also, many conservatives who post on here seem to like this idea, so the "liberal minded" comment is a bit off.

Liberals do tend to support money for public education, whereas conservatives often oppose that, so I wouldn't blame liberals for poor funding of schools.

Don Whiteley 2 years, 2 months ago

It was certainly, beyond even the slightest doubt, the liberal voted who voted in the parking garage and the drive-up window for the library.

chootspa 2 years, 2 months ago

Separate piles of money. The state ties our hands when it comes to funding schools. However, I still don't think this is a wise use of taxpayer money. Not in that location.

flyin_squirrel 2 years, 2 months ago

Still don't understand where this amphitheater came from. Another bait and switch on the tax payers, and how does this fit in with a rec center? I have never heard of anyone asking for an amphitheater in Lawrence, and this would be a terrible location for one. Put an amphitheater near downtown if you are going to build one, not out in a mosquito infested area.

MarcoPogo 2 years, 2 months ago

You can still celebrate the birth of the little baby Jesus.

George Lippencott 2 years, 2 months ago

When comes the elephants and marching bands? Who is going to sort out this every growing mushroom? Just maybe it should go to the voters?? Be the progressive thing to do.

Larry Sturm 2 years, 2 months ago

Going just as i expected K U will take it over and Lawrence residents will not be able to use it.

scaramouchepart2 2 years, 2 months ago

Has the city not been paying to fix broken old infrastructure all over town. A couple on 23rd, 19th, and so forth. The reason we do not have updated infrastructure is all the money we have been banking on developers to provide part time, low wage student jobs and this new Park is another new infrastructure cost that takes tax payers income. The job of city hall is not to build vanity projects, but to fund projects that protect the quality of life issues as in updated infrastructure. Believe me the crap that the city allowed the developers to put in on the west side of town is falling apart already. So the idea that well the west side is ok does not fly either. We have clay pipes everywhere east of Iowa. The way my tile floors have been cracking I expect we will see more broken pipes.

Richard Heckler 2 years, 2 months ago

Mayor Bob Schumm. “I think there will be a level of amazement throughout the region when they see it in full operation. It will be unbelievable for our prestige when it comes to our amateur sports offerings.”

Bob where's the money? Bob where's the money? How much money is involved? The people want to vote for this. You've heard this from many.

“I would hope you could have some plays and some musicals out there,” Schumm said. “With the arts in this town, I think there would be a lot of opportunities. I think it could be a fun place to be out on a summer evening.”

You want to compete with Starlight Theatre? You want to compete with Shakespere in Park? Do you have any idea how much money that requires? You want to compete with the Lied Center,Liberty Hall,Arts Center the KCMO cultural arts market? Sprint Center? The money is not here.

Outdoor musicals will not draw the crowds.

No matter how this is presented it is still the PLAY project which is NOT worth another $40-$60 million. USD 497 spent $20 million on PLAY that is quite enough.

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