Archive for Tuesday, September 18, 2012

City moving forward with new rec center site

September 18, 2012


Lawrence city commissioners are moving on, but they’re not entirely sure what they’ve left behind as they shift gears on a proposed sports complex.

Commissioners at their weekly meeting unanimously directed staff members to begin investigating the feasibility of joining forces with Kansas University on a new joint sports complex on 110 acres north of the northeast corner of Sixth Street and the South Lawrence Trafficway.

But commissioners left the future of a 146-acre site at the northwest corner of the intersection — a corner commissioners had studied for nearly 11 months as a potential recreation center site — uncertain.

Commissioners had already annexed the 146-acre site and were poised to rezone it for commercial uses, including a $24 million recreation center/youth fieldhouse, until KU leaders last week said they were no longer interested in placing their track and field and soccer facilities on the site.

On Tuesday, a majority of commissioners said they no longer were interested in retail zoning for the site, which is owned by a group led by the Schwada family, but they said they weren’t certain what the land should be zoned.

“It bothers me that we have annexed this land, and we’re going to leave it undesignated,” City Commissioner Mike Dever said. “That is going to create a lot of uncertainty for the landowners and homeowners nearby.”

A previous city plan called for the property to house industrial uses. But neighbors to the site on Tuesday said they were now supportive of retail rather than industrial uses at the site.

A majority of commissioners, though, said zoning the site retail wasn’t appropriate if the sports complex were not located on the site.

Commissioners made it clear Tuesday they want to focus their efforts on co-locating the recreation center with KU facilities on the 110-acre site on the east side of the SLT.

Commissioners gave City Manager David Corliss the authority to begin working with engineers and architects to explore the feasibility of the site for a multi-gym recreation center.

Commissioner Mike Amyx, though, did gain assurances from Corliss that the city also will prepare an analysis of a stand-alone recreation center that would be built on 29-acres of city-owned land near Wakarusa and Overland drives.

Corliss said he expects to present to commissioners a feasibility analysis for both sites before the end of the year.


Richard Heckler 5 years, 8 months ago

They have no idea whether or not the largest group of stakeholders in the city support this activity. Apparently it doesn't matter to them. The largest group of stakeholders are the thousands of local taxpayers that are getting billed for the studies and architects.

Their rush to judgement aka annexing the 146 acres for no reason is a blunder that needs to be dealt with by pulling the annexation. A perfect example of why all projects should not be allowed to be rushed through the approval process.

The City of Lawrence only assumes that KU wants City Hall as a partner. Perhaps they don't? No one knows. According to the LJW.

City Hall assumes that thousands of local taxpayers want City Hall to move forward on this as if they are a partner? No one knows. According to the LJW.

This whole matter should be approved by the voters in April before committing OUR tax dollars to any projects.

Chad why is city hall avoiding taxpayers approval? Taxpayers want to know.

If the city commissioners managed their personal business operations the way they manage the taxpayers business they would be out of business.

Richard Heckler 5 years, 8 months ago

Obviously local politicians get itchy to spend these sales tax dollars. How can commissioners help reduce the local tax load or spend responsibly?

IF a more fiscal responsible use of the 1994 sale tax cannot applied in such a manner that favors the greater majority of the taxpayers instead of the few perhaps it is time to consider repealing all or a portion of the sales tax in an effort to reduce the local sales tax.

Or use the sales tax money to reduce property taxes thereby eliminating the need to increase the mill levy.

Or build an actual rec center with two full size courts and a walking track on the 29 acres the city now owns close to Free State High School which is a bit more centrally located. And it does not need $6 million or more $$$$ for new infrastructure. This is far more consistent with the promised use of the 1994 voter approved sales tax money.

Perhaps add a second full sized court at Holcomb and East Lawrence rec centers. This provides adequate,equitable and conveniently located space throughout the Lawrence tax dollar area.

No matter what contribute 10%-15% of the 1994 sales tax dollars for a community project known as rehabilitation of our local elementary schools. Excellent use of tax dollars thus preventing a need for a bond issue or tax increase. Smart economics.

Remember Gov Sam Brownback is projected to remove 10%-15% of state sales tax dollars from our local cookie jars. City Hall has suggested replacing the .6 state sales tax with a new local .6 sales tax? Taxpayers may no longer trust local government officials with additional sales tax dollars. This would be an interesting question for the LJW poll.

Taxpayers cannot afford to be left out of the approval process at the ballot box..

Richard Heckler 5 years, 8 months ago

Possible questions for the LJW poll.

Would taxpayers trust local government officials with additional local sales tax dollars from a new .6% sales tax?

Would taxpayers rather pay for a smaller NW rec center with 2 courts plus one new court at East Lawrence Rec Center and Holcomb Rec rather than a new much larger and way more expensive field house?

Would taxpayers like to have a portion of the 1994 sales tax dollars be applied to reducing city property taxes for the next 5 years to assist USD 497 BOE in the rehab of public schools ?

Would taxpayers want to review the 1994 sales tax for possible repeal or possibly reduced?

Sharon Nottingham 5 years, 8 months ago

I want a vote on this rec center...I want city commissioners to LISTEN to their constituents, and not build a project where KU is the decision-maker for how our public tax dollars should be spent.

irvan moore 5 years, 8 months ago

jack is right, worst city commission ever

hipper_than_hip 5 years, 8 months ago

The planning commission and planning dept. is to blame for this whole mess. The residents of the area wanted retail when the West of K10 planning document was being prepared but the planners said it had to be industrial. Along comes a developer with a big plan for a rec center, and the planners declare that retail is the best use for the land. The rec center deal falls thru, and now the planners says that retail isn't the way to go. So is it back to industrial?

Budgets_Smudgets 5 years, 8 months ago

“It bothers me that we have annexed this land, and we’re going to leave it undesignated,” City Commissioner Mike Dever said.

Then de-annex it. Problem solved. Leaves no more uncertainty than before this thing started.

But since Dever has been the behind-the-scenes shill for the Fritzels and Schwadas developers from Day One, this statement is no surprise.

irvan moore 5 years, 8 months ago

i'm kind of impressed that the commissioners figured out a way all the developers will win

Keith 5 years, 8 months ago

"Commissioner Mike Amyx, though, did gain assurances from Corliss that the city also will prepare an analysis of a stand-alone recreation center that would be built on 29-acres of city-owned land near Wakarusa and Overland drives."

Did he pat you head and say 'good commissioner' too? Corliss will make you feel like it's your decision, but you can bet he'll guide you to his decision.

Mari Aubuchon 5 years, 8 months ago


We will be spending millions on the library and Vermont St parking garage, we need to upgrade our police department facilities, we will need an additional water treatment plant in no time and THIS is how you want to spend our tax dollars?!


d_prowess 5 years, 8 months ago

I don't want to dampen your enthusiasm or say that holding a vote is a bad idea, but when you look at the voting results from past community spending projects (the T, the Library), the people are in favor of these things. I expect that the same could be said for this, especially when you consider its location on the West side and the fact that many families out there would think this would benefit them. Not saying those things are correct, but people would think that and vote that way.

Mari Aubuchon 5 years, 8 months ago

I do see your point but I think this many be different simply because the population of W Law is still quite small compared to the rest of our community.

I should add the proposed renovations of the schools to the list of projects.

absolutelyridiculous 5 years, 8 months ago

Let's vote. Vote these spend-happy clowns off the island. Geez. You are in my pocketbook again. Have you seen the news lately commissioners? Our country has TRILLONS in debt and you want to strap us down more with sports facilities... for freaking games. Games. And we'll pay for it...yeah KU is going to go for this. Of course, because they won't have to fund the whole d@mn thing.

No. Hell No. No freaking way. No. No. No.

Bruce Bertsch 5 years, 8 months ago

Last time I looked, this is still a Republic, not a Democracy. That is why you do not vote on every issue, but vote for representatives.

d_prowess 5 years, 8 months ago

I agree. I feel at times the city council has simply offered up things to a vote just so they could avoid making the decision and having to deal with any backlash.

Mari Aubuchon 5 years, 8 months ago

Local government in our country has never been purely republican., nor should it be. I think we should strive for more democracy, not less.

vermont 5 years, 8 months ago

I disagree with most of the posting that happens on this blog. It's like all the squeaky wheels in one place. I personally favor and appreciate the work that has been done here. Our "representatives" sacrifice time and energy away from their personal lives and goals and we should respect them for that. I do not believe that these ladies and/or gentlemen are always corrupt or working against what everybody else wants rather just trying to make a difference and give back to the community that has given to them. I commend every one of them and hope that we can all continue to appreciate our community and the wonderful dialogue that usually ensues here...just not within these blogs.

Richard Heckler 5 years, 8 months ago

City Commission Agenda for September 25 2012


  1. Conduct public hearing and consider adoption of Resolution No. 6995 setting out the findings and determinations of the governing body of the City of Lawrence, and ordering the construction of an additional parking level on the parking garage at 707 Vermont Street. Staff Memo & Attachments FAQ Staff Memo 2010 DT Parking Capacity Map 2011 DT Parking Capacity Report 2012 New Hampshire Street Parking Garage Report Correspondence ACTION: Conduct public hearing and adopt Resolution No. 6995, if appropriate.

  2. Consider initiation of zoning items related to the northwest corner of West 6th Street and K-10 and refer to planning commission. The City Commission voted to withdraw the earlier land use items related to this property at their meeting of September 18, 2012.

ACTION: Direct staff, as appropriate.

Commenting has been disabled for this item.