Archive for Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Editorial: Amphitheater about-face

October 31, 2012


It appears city officials are dumping the dream for an outdoor amphitheater at Sesquicentennial Point northeast of the Clinton Reservoir dam for an amphitheater in the soon-to-be developed Rock Chalk athletic complex at the city’s northwest corner.

Sesquicentennial Point overlooks Clinton Reservoir, the Wakarusa Valley and what could be one of the finest park lands and greenswards in the country. This park would extend from Clinton Dam east to the youth sports fields and connect to the Baker Wetlands.

The Sesquicentennial park/amphitheater effort was launched in 2004 at the time of the city’s 150th anniversary with a program and dedication of the site and placing of a time capsule to be opened in 2054 at Lawrence’s 200th anniversary.

It is a great site, one that the city’s Parks and Recreation Department helped get started. It has attracted more than $200,000 in private funds to help develop.

City officials have said the lack of power and water at this location is a severe handicap and that chances for developing an amphitheater are slim, very slim.

They now favor an amphitheater that developers of the athletic park are proposing. It would be used by Kansas University, KU Athletics and local groups, when it is not in use by the athletics department at KU.

The grandiose Rock Chalk park idea is indeed grand, but would Lawrence residents rather have an amphitheater as part of an athletic park or one that overlooks a beautiful and scenic valley and one dedicated to the history of Lawrence?

At this date, city officials favor the athletic park, turning their backs on the Lawrence Sesquicentennial Commission, Sesquicentennial Point development and those who have made private gifts to recognize significant dates in the city’s history and as seed money to help get the amphitheater site started.

Apparently, it’s full speed ahead for the athletics park and the accompanying major retail developments, a joint effort by the KU Athletics Department, the city of Lawrence, the KU Endowment Association and private developers.

Never mind the possible negative impacts on downtown Lawrence and/or to other projects such as Sesquicentennial Point and the amphitheater.


William McCauley 5 years, 6 months ago

"Never mind the possible negative impacts on downtown Lawrence"

If everyone was so worried about DTL, then why give away to KU the gift of Burcham park for a rowing house. Or why not build out river front park into more, such as amphitheater. Yes most people would rather see a show with a view, like the valley/lake view and not the muddy Kaw, but the muddy Kaw is with in walking distance to DTL is way better then out in a field with a view of a sports complex.

If the DTL leaders & the City of Lawrence wanted do an outdoor venue in the downtown area with it's limited parking, they could learn a lot from Telluride Colorado on how to bring in thousands of people with no parking in town and then how deal with them in town.

A lot of people did not like the Wakarusa festival, or it's type of crowd draw... So instead of making changes in the promotional part of all that, the city/county leaders run off a major festival and pass a county wide noise ordinance so no one else can even have a 4th of July party without the county cops showing up, let alone produce a major outdoor concert. As long as were talking about concert production.... the City of Lawrence ran off a local born and raised business owner, who while in LHS, started a DJ business, he grew that company into one of the largest concert production companies in the country. He also designed and builds self contained staging & light/sound rigs.... (did and still does all the production for Wakarusa)

BUT about 6 yrs or so ago the City of Lawrence decided he couldn't keep parking his expanding fleet of big rigs in parking lots over at 720 E. 9th and also wouldn't help with some tax stuff to help him expand his business..... Ottawa on the other hand was very helpful in not only giving some tax help, but they found him the perfect building ready to move into and expand too. So now that locally Lawrence started small business has been forced to move out of town to Ottawa Ks. Funny things is, they really happy to be there and doing very well.

Where did that air-boat company that was building flat bottom boats in town move too? Yep, business friendly community alright..... ;-)

Richard Heckler 5 years, 6 months ago

Neither project is worth the millions upon millions upon millions that taxpayers are being billed or will be billed. That tons of tax dollars have spent on that lake project for several years now should be concern for fiscal conservative tax payers which do not seem to among our elected officials or city hall.

Yes Park Department tax dollars being spent in spite of the fact the lake project was not popular only by the Chamber of Commerce/real estate executives. Yes I was following the Park Dept budgets on this project for awhile.

Lawrence powers that be are hell bent on reviving the "boom town real estate event" no matter the cost and in spite of the fact that inflation was like an out of control locomotive.

The high dollar spending out west on the KU/Field House project is all about real estate sales promotion nothing more and nothing less. No matter that it was reckless real estate fraudulent home sales that ruined the economy and job market TWICE in the past 30 years.

Why would any leadership want a return to those reckless events? Extreme inflation and reckless spending = weak economic returns.

The community has never stopped expanding long enough to catch up with the ever expanding cost of paying for the helter skelter growth decisions. In other words Lawrence has never been in a position where new growth is paying for itself.

Richard Heckler 5 years, 6 months ago

There is one consequence of helter skelter aimless growth that usually goes unmentioned by the local media,city hall and elected officials - local profiteers are draining our pocketbooks and raising our taxes.

NOT necessary city growth is the result of over several decades of subsidies paid for by the local taxpayer. These range from the obvious to the obscure and include big projects-like the billions we spend on new roads as well as smaller ones-like the tax-breaks that encourage businesses to move to the edge of town and KILL down town.

We've subsidized local profiteers at such a basic level for so long, that many people believe the status quo is actually fair and neutral. This is false-what we think of as a level playing field is tilted steeply in favor of local profiteers driving development.

This west side KU/Field house project is ANOTHER subsidy for the real estate industry. Some call it pork barrel spending. It's not about the good health of of taxpayers. Miles and miles and miles of new and well maintained sidewalks would be more of a benefit to taxpayers.

City leadership actually believe that large new structures is what attracts new home buyers and new business. Never mind that every kind of local tax is on the rise and still are keeping those secret sales taxes a secret so consumers shop uninformed.

somebodynew 5 years, 6 months ago

"Never mind the possible negative impacts on downtown Lawrence......"

OH, PLEASE. Get over downtown Lawrence, already. The area where Rock Chalk Park is slated for is ALREADY zoned and planned for Retail. And what exactly the other place has to do with downtown is beyond me.

Unless you can propose a feasible site for an amplitheatre that will help (be close by) downtown, then be quiet. (so I don't get disappeared) Downtown has its' own little niche and because of all the protections, probably always will. It is not a major shopping center (since they let all the bars take over years ago) and never will be.

And, until you run off all the transients no one will want to go to one downtown anyhow. And we know that isn't going to happen.

blindrabbit 5 years, 6 months ago

Lawrence still trying to make a silk purse out of that sow's ear called the Sesquicentennial Park. Too far from town, no relationship to history of City; bad idea foisted on City by a group of do-gooders with a preconceived idea and accepting no ideas from others. Balderdash

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