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Plan to spend $1 million for more downtown parking to get closer look

The parking garage to be built south of the renovated Lawrence Public Library is shown in this architect’s rendering. The garage will hold 250 cars. Its design incorporates a space to hang banners.

The parking garage to be built south of the renovated Lawrence Public Library is shown in this architect’s rendering. The garage will hold 250 cars. Its design incorporates a space to hang banners.

September 25, 2012


Plans for extra taxes to pay for an extra level on a proposed downtown parking garage are going to take some extra study at Lawrence City Hall.

City commissioners at their Tuesday meeting kept alive the idea of spending $1 million to add 72 parking spaces to a garage planned as part of the $19 million library expansion project. But all five commissioners said they had concerns about how a special assessment would be added to the property tax bills of downtown property owners.

“I don’t see a lot of hard resistance to the idea that we need more parking downtown,” said Mayor Bob Schumm. “But I agree that in terms of how we assess the costs for this, there are some cases that aren’t as equitable as the whole.”

Commissioners expressed concerns after hearing from a crowd of about eight speakers largely opposed to the idea of adding a special assessment to downtown property tax bills to pay for the $1 million project. The assessment would be based on the square footage of the lot, which caused owners of several large pieces of property — including a representative of The World Company, which is the parent company for the Lawrence Journal-World and — to question the plan.

Other property owners also questioned whether the general public should be asked to pay for more of the costs because the additional parking spaces likely will be used heavily by users of the Lawrence Public Library, the Douglas County Senior Center and the Lawrence Outdoor Aquatic Center, which are all public facilities located adjacent to the proposed garage.

“I think this really is more of a public parking thing,” said George Paley, who owns multiple buildings downtown.

Some residents argued the city should build only what was approved by voters in 2010 as part of the library project. But city officials have said adding an extra level of parking to the garage will never be cheaper than it will be during the upcoming expansion of the library.

“I feel like our job is not just to plan for the next couple of years but to really plan further out,” said City Commissioner Aron Cromwell. “We’re going to need those spots in the future. You can argue that we need them today, but we’re really going to need them in 15 years.”

Commissioners asked staff members to adjust the proposed special assessment financing plan to address several issues, including:

• A way to exempt from the assessment residential properties in downtown that provide their own parking

• A process to exempt from assessment the parking lots of commercial properties that provide significant off-street parking

• A policy that would allow churches and other tax-exempt organizations to not have to pay the special assessments

• A process that would make it easier for downtown property owners to file a protest petition to stop the special taxing district from proceeding

City Manager David Corliss said he would bring a new financing plan back to the commission in the next two to three weeks for consideration.


Dan Blomgren 5 years, 8 months ago

I don't have to read past the first paragraph to realize how stupid this is. No one can predict where we might need the parking 15 years from now. Maybe we'll need that parking further south closer to 10th st. Maybe another lot will open for metered spacing. Maybe Lawrence will be a walking district by then. Who knows! I can see planning for the future, but the city is in no position financially to raise our taxes to fix a problem that may never occur 15 years from now.

Maddy Griffin 5 years, 8 months ago

And so it starts.$1 million here,another million there and pretty soon the cost for the new library just doubled.

justforfun 5 years, 8 months ago

Agreed! Started out as 18 Mil library, now were looking 20 Mil strait in the face!

Topple 5 years, 8 months ago

Yup. They say it'll cost $1,000,000, but just like the state capital, we'll end up footing the bill for significantly more and the city will say, "well, we are 70% done, we have to choose between a 70% complete parking area that is unusable, or spending another $700,000 to finish the project."

Don't worry, we'll just wait for [fill in the blank city tax] to expire and replace it with a 'new parking garage tax.' This way, no one really notices the tax, because the rate was already being paid!

irvan moore 5 years, 8 months ago

watch them figure out a way to amend the issue of how the bond money is spent and take more away from the library to spend on the parking garage

cowboy 5 years, 8 months ago

in 15 years the library will be obsolete , start from there and step back away from this project. Besides being on the wrong end of technology the plan is just so god awful ugly. Lets take a breather on this one. Show some leadership city of lawrence.

justforfun 5 years, 8 months ago

15 Yrs??? I assume you were being very genorous? This library as with many are going by the wayside as we speak! What a waste!!!

Topple 5 years, 8 months ago

Couldn't agree more. I moved to Lawrence in 2010, so I hadn't heard of this project until I started frequenting LJWorld. I couldn't believe the city was spending upward of $20 million on a new library. I'd love to see the statistics on "business" libraries on a national scale have received over the last 2-3 decades. It's a dinosaur concept and a complete waste.

Liberty275 5 years, 8 months ago

"I'd love to see the statistics on "business" libraries on a national scale"


Topple 5 years, 8 months ago

That was a poorly worded sentence.

I meant to say I would be interested to see how much library-use has increased or decreased over the last few decades.

Richard Heckler 5 years, 8 months ago

Monday night at the library on a discussion about the sports village the City Manager,Mayor and at least two city commissioners heard calls for voter approval many times. Why the resistance?

If I were a city commissioner I would be requesting voters be brought into this final decision process frequently. A menu of items could be drawn up each November and/or April for taxpayer approval. Taxpayers are not as dumb as politicians wish to believe.

I read that available cheaper borrowed money brings on irrational spending. We see this behavior applied to this parking lot and the "Sports Village".

We see this behavior is allowing our local markets to become saturated whether it be housing,retail,sports facilities,warehousing etc etc etc etc.

penny4mythoughts is right on the money absolutely.

It is my feeling that we taxpayers have been railroaded by "we've got to plan ahead" or "we've got to take risks" lines of nonsense for far to long. This is wreckanomics applied locally.

Which is why it makes dollars and sense for the voters to take over in the final decision process. I do not believe any elected official can claim special features about themselves that allow them "to know" which project will pay back ever. Pure speculation is simply not enough. Lawrence voters are as endowed as any elected official. Believe it.

Now is NOT the time to be adding NEW large tax dollar projects to our bills without voter approval. Voters did not approve this new lot nor the extra spending.

Is the economy back yet? Will the economy crash again as a result of republicans playing a huge game of fraud? Many people believe this Bush/Cheney fiasco will take more years than ever to heal.

Patricia Davis 5 years, 8 months ago

Another Gould Evans atrocity. Ugly funding. Beyond ugly construction.

Richard Heckler 5 years, 8 months ago

Both exhibit similarities in reckless decision making. yes the voters approved the library rehab concept. I applaud that opportunity.

Deciding to build additional parking after the fact is reckless decision making.

Some or all elected officials are under the impression that because they are elected we taxpayers gave them a free hand to spend tax dollars anyway they see fit. I disagree.

It is my position that more referendums should be offered up for we taxpayers to be the ultimate decision makers. Some projects will make it and some will not.

I say there is no need for an expensive 30-40 million $$$ field house. There is not a concrete market for this field house. There is not a concrete site plan for the field house. There are no concrete $$$$ numbers for the field house yet commissioners have been making decisions as if all the ducks are in a row. This is reckless behavior.

I have never said no to a rec center for the NW hoods. In fact my position is for a rec center NOT a field house.

flyin_squirrel 5 years, 8 months ago

What makes Cromwell think 15 yrs from now we are going to be needing more parking? Has he seen some master plan for downtown that we haven't? At the current rate, we will need less parking downtown due to all the businesses shutting down. It is nothing more than an entertainment district right now (see Aggieville).

Until we get a significant jump in the number of people living/working in or near downtown, I don't see the need for more parking now or in the future.

ElGonzo 5 years, 8 months ago

There is no shortage of parking downtown, we have an excess of lazy citizens who refuse to take the bus and cheap citizens who don't want to pay for parking. Never had trouble getting a spot more than a block away from my destination.

This town needs to meter all space downtown, charge at least $1 per hour on all metered spaced and increase the rates in all structures, and tow, tow, tow. Work with businesses downtown to provide cheap permits for employees and for true clients some sort of validation or tokens to,reward customers.

Raise parking fines to at least $15 or more so people don't disregard the meters and follow with towing for those who violate the time limits by over four hour or some unreasonable amount of time.

verity 5 years, 8 months ago

This sort of thing makes me glad I no longer live in Lawrence. There are those who feel that every broken down shed must be preserved at any cost and those who would turn everything into parking lots, high rises and other developments of questionable value. Those calling for sensible, workable solutions get lost.

With a computer, an iPad, free book exchanges and way too many books at home that I haven't gotten around to reading, I no longer have much use for a library. I fear that centralizing the whole library system in downtown Lawrence will isolate it from the people who really need access---and that it's already outdated.

Just my opinion even though it's no longer any of my business. I still hate to see money wasted.

Bob Forer 5 years, 8 months ago

The extra spaces are all about the developers earning an extra $200,000 profit on the additional work. No more, no less.

deec 5 years, 8 months ago

Building more parking in the garage also allows the city to donate existing ground level lots to favored contractors to develop subsidized apartments and hotels.

Richard Heckler 5 years, 8 months ago

Between the westside developers and the city commission killing downtown it is hard to imagine needing more space.

Why in the world doesn't the city planners and city commission demand off street parking for all new apartment buildings and motels if parking is at such a premium?

Harris provided off street parking for his venture at 8th and New Hampshire.

How does the city commission figure that taxpayers should be offering up $12 million tax subsidies for these for profit ventures?

As we see the latest binge is hotels. What i believe to have discovered is that hotel space is usually available during week days in Lawrence which is opposite that of bigger cities. Larger metro's are filling their hotels 5 days a week as opposed to Lawrence maybe selling out two days a week. It will be easy to over saturate the market. Which is to say some will be going out of business. One commissioner said we can only hope the right ones go out of business which of course is unfriendly to taxpayers that any go out of business.

Where is the concrete evidence that parking is in dire straits?

MarcoPogo 5 years, 8 months ago

How about proposing that the businesses that it would benefit most (the 700 block of Mass) foot the bill? I'll bet that would stop this in its tracks.

MarcoPogo 5 years, 8 months ago

It wasn't a real idea, LN, but thank you for your support.

Sylvie Rueff 5 years, 8 months ago

If church property is used for other activities beyond worship, or it charges rent for the sanctuaries, then churches should pay their fair share of assessments for all city services and infrastructure. Not to do so puts private and public organizations at an unfair disadvantage. Separation of church and state also means government cannot give unfair advantage to churches.

RDE87 5 years, 8 months ago

Do the people planning this realize that if they spend $1,000,000 for 72 parking spaces that comes out to almost $14,000 per space! That is crazy talk!

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