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.