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Lawrence and Douglas County

Lawrence and Douglas county

City Hall brokers deal to scrap controversial bidding process for $25M recreation center; proposal now calls for open bidding

January 31, 2013, 6:40 p.m. Updated January 31, 2013, 6:48 p.m.

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Facing mounting concerns from the public, City Hall officials have brokered a tentative deal to scrap a controversial bidding process for a proposed $25 million city recreation center in northwest Lawrence.

Mayor Bob Schumm said all parties have agreed in principle to a new plan that will allow the proposed 181,000-square-foot regional recreation center near the northeast corner of Sixth Street and the South Lawrence Trafficway to be bid through the city’s standard, open bidding process.

“I think the court of public opinion has been of great value in moving this project from how it started out to where this new proposal is,” Schumm said.

The deal marks a reversal from a controversial proposal that would have limited the number of companies that could bid on the project, and also included a clause that would have given an entity controlled by Lawrence builder Thomas Fritzel the chance to match any low bid on the project.

Members of the public had begun to increasingly question whether that process could ensure the city would receive the lowest and best price for the recreation center. Schumm said he shared some of those concerns.

“I’m a lot more comfortable than I was two or three weeks ago,” Schumm said.

The new proposal includes several elements:

• Any qualified, licensed contractor will be allowed to bid on the recreation center project, just as is the standard for typical city construction projects.

• The city of Lawrence will run the bidding process. The previous proposal called for Kansas University Endowment to run the process.

• The city of Lawrence will hire the contractor and oversee the construction of the recreation center. The previous proposal called for KU Endowment to hire the contractor, oversee the construction and then eventually sell the completed building to the city.

• The infrastructure for the site — such as roads, sewers and parking — will be built through a partnership between KU Endowment and Fritzel’s Bliss Sports. The city will contribute to those infrastructure costs but will have its participation capped in order to ensure that the city’s total expenditure for the recreation center does not exceed $25 million.

The new proposal is not yet final because the necessary documents haven’t been crafted or signed. But Schumm said both KU Endowment officials and Fritzel have expressed agreement to the new terms.

Schumm said he expects to have final documents ready for the City Commission to consider at its Feb. 19 meeting.

He said the change in the bidding process is not expected to cause any of the design elements of the proposed recreation center to change. The project is designed to have eight full-sized basketball courts that also can be used for volleyball, a walking track, an indoor turf field, a gymnastics area, a fitness center, eight outdoor lighted tennis courts and other amenities. The entire park — about 26 acres owned by the city and about 60 acres that will house the KU components — will have about 1,400 paved parking spaces to be shared by both entities.

The way the new deal is structured, the city will pay the full amount of the bid for construction of the recreation center building. The city’s architects have estimated the building will cost between $19 million to $20 million to construct.

The infrastructure portions of the city and KU portions of the project will be bid through a process controlled by KU Endowment and managed by Fritzel’s Bliss Sports. The city will contribute an amount to the infrastructure that brings the city’s total contribution to the project to $25 million.

For example, if the city’s receives a $19 million bid on the recreation center, it will contribute $6 million to the infrastructure portion of the park.

The city’s architects have estimated the infrastructure and parking portion of the park will cost about $13 million to construct.

Comments

Richard Heckler 1 year, 2 months ago

I say it's time to scrap this entire project.

Has anyone ever witnessed such a helter skelter discussion that has lacked cohesiveness,transparency and accurate dollar numbers since day one?

If I were a financial institution watching this fiasco my answer would be no. It has been a reckless presentation from the start and it would be unethical to approve financial backing knowing there is nothing truly backing this tax dollar project over and above speculation.

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Richard Heckler 1 year, 2 months ago

"City Hall brokers deal to scrap controversial bidding process for $25M recreation center"

What bidding process? What we have is a process known as "insider trading".

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mikekt 1 year, 2 months ago

Who are the so called " all of the parties", that agreed to this deal," in principal ? " ??????

What about the Citizens of Lawrence Kansas, who usually go to the ballot box to agree on something this large ?????

Public Voting " Is The Principal ! " Of A Democracy .

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lunacydetector 1 year, 2 months ago

will anyone waste their time bidding this project?

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Richard Heckler 1 year, 2 months ago

City government is incompetent. Put this matter to a vote.!!!!! BUT give voters a choice.

This tax dollar sucking monster or a smaller way less expensive neighborhood rec center.

Put this matter to a vote.

I've read a few times that each petition signature can represent 10 votes as a rule of thumb.

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Richard Heckler 1 year, 2 months ago

What could be the alternative? How can Lawrence taxpayers get the best bang for our 1994 sales tax bucks and improve the quality of life for families throughout the entire community?

Construct a NW neighborhood rec center with 2-3 gyms and a walking/jogging track for public exercise probably for about $10 million. Now we have achieved shoring up the alleged lack of court space.

Connect the Burroughs Creek hike and bike path to the river levy by way off Hobbs Park through the new development in the "eastside warehouse district". A design path has been created so lets get on with it. Maybe cost $200,000.

In doing the above Lawrence,Kansas has effectively improved the quality of life for more families throughout the sales tax dollar community. This is definitely within the spirit of the 1994 sales tax that was approved by families throughout the community.

A best bang for our 1994 sales tax dollars and taxpayers as stakeholders. With a few bucks left over for new landscaping in the "eastside warehouse district" in addition to Rhode Island and Vermont in downtown.

Want to attract higher wage employment to Lawrence, Ks. ?

Invest in the future by way of developing safe walking pathways and safe bicycling pathways. Parents want to feel confident that their children can walk and bike safely to school.

And adults want to feel confident that their children can walk and bike safely to schools. And they can walk and bike safely to employment,grocery shopping and socializing.

Repair sidewalks and streets? Oh I forgot city hall got taxpayers to vote in a half cent additional sales tax for this instead of paying for this out of general fund money as a city budget item.

All of the above could be accomplished for millions upon millions less that the Rock Chalk Park.

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1yardstare 1 year, 2 months ago

Schumm can't seem to make up his mind about which deal is the best deal. Every new deal that come along gives him more comfort. Maybe we slow this down, open it up to the public and get it right for once. Schumm's secret behind closed door management style of city government needs to end.

Let's not forgive Bob Schumm for he is the reason Lawrence taxpayers subsidize Eagle Bend Golf course which he knew at the time was going to be a loser.

Then during his failed champaign for county commission is fought against American Eagle distribution center building in Lawrence. He didn't want American Eagle in town because it would attract from the same employ pool his restaurants used for staffing and offered to pay them better wages. Schumm didn't want the city to offer AE IRB's with tax abatement over 50%.

Today he is bending over backwards to help Thomas Fritzel acquire $40 million dollars in IRB's, with full sale tax relief on materials, and 100% real estate tax abatement.

He's got to be joking.

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Gandalf 1 year, 2 months ago

Why would the city have to "broker' a decision to place on open bidding? So much for the concept of a public commission.

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nekansan 1 year, 2 months ago

"Why not put a cap on the infrastructure too, so we hand over any savings on the bidding to ku and bliss? Why doesn't it go back to the tax payers?"

This. There is no reason the city should be on the hook for $25 million regardless. They should pay for the cost of the rec center (IMO a smaller one) and the related infrastructure. The city's participation beyond that should not extend beyond the tax deferment that the entire complex will be receiving and the services (police,fire, storm water, etc) that the city will be providing when complete. KU can pay for the infrastructure related to their portion of the project.

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blondejuan 1 year, 2 months ago

The last agreement I read said we are only getting a building. We aren't buying a parking lot. KU owns the parking lot. But the city is paying to maintain the parking lot. Plus, the city is paying for all the maintenance of all the landscaping including KU. So, we pay $25m for a Morton building with no parking lot. Plus, we pay to maintain all the landscaping and the parking lot we don't own. Huh! Sounds like a great deal. NOT!!!

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Noweigh 1 year, 2 months ago

KUjayhawk and cant have it both ways......agree with you two completely. Just like American Eagle factory and numerous other projects that would have benefitted the entire community over the years... we looked gift horses in the mouth. fritzel and others should call the naysayers bluff and back out. No wonder new businesses think twice before moving or opening here.

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Cant_have_it_both_ways 1 year, 2 months ago

Next up...complaining because a contractor was selected from outside the Douglas county area.

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msezdsit 1 year, 2 months ago

This whole thing has been a sham from the beginning. It should be put to a vote and if it passes then it should be let out for competitive bidding. When all the players including the city continually want to re write the rules just for this project then the writing is not just on the wall but in our face that this project has a real bad odor around it. If it passes zoning and private money wants to build the thing than thats a different story. To much tax payer dollars and not enough transparency.

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kujayhawk7476 1 year, 2 months ago

I think all the naysayers just caused the city to give up a gift from Tom Fritzel.

I'm rooting for KU Endowment and Fritzel to back out of the entire deal with the city and leave them high and dry with no new recreational center, just the Rock Chalk Park for KU sports.

The city of Lawrence doesn't deserve assistance from Fritzel or anyone else. What a joke all of you are!

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bearded_gnome 1 year, 2 months ago

should read "Rubik's cube" sorry. I've already thrashed my editor and cut her pay.

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bearded_gnome 1 year, 2 months ago

Mayor Bob Schumm said all parties have agreed in principle to a new plan that will allow the proposed 181,000-square-foot regional recreation center near the northeast corner of Sixth Street and the South Lawrence Trafficway to be bid through the city’s standard, open bidding process.

---still misspending, misdirecting, poor priorities for giant white elephant with mission creep and mission fuzz.

much smaller, provide needed tennis courts etc., and use '94 moneys to *accelerate fixing our terribly out of date infrastructure=water and sewer pipes way overdue for replacement and 1/5 of roads still broken.

buy the beans and feed the family; don't waste the budget on extra rubic's cubes which might be nice but unnecessary.

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mikekt 1 year, 2 months ago

Infrastructure for public projects, in most towns, are publicly bid by the city, bonded for performance .....& construction is permitted and inspected by the city .

Said another way, count the real $ cost to build the infrastructure,..... from whoever,..... plus add another 6 million from the city ?

And under which shell is the peanut,....... or whatever $ they are shuffling around on the table without

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highschoolmath 1 year, 2 months ago

Why not put a cap on the infrastructure too, so we hand over any savings on the bidding to ku and bliss? Why doesn't it go back to the tax payers?

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Clark Coan 1 year, 2 months ago

Sequence of events:

  1. Fritzel gives millions to KU.

  2. Gets a sweetheart deal to build the entire sports complex.

  3. Despite the City's action, Fritzel still will build KU's portion of the complex.

  4. Because he'll have an economies of scale by building KU's portion, he will be able to undercut anyone else who bids on the City's portion.

  5. Fritzel builds the whole complex partly at taxpayers' expense.

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juma 1 year, 2 months ago

smoke and mirrors........ smoke and mirrors Good job CC and all of the developers

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1southernjayhawk 1 year, 2 months ago

Don't put it to a public vote. 1. Only about 25% of registered voters in Doug Co bother to vote in a non presidential election. 2. The financial and organizational aspects of the project are too difficult for the layman to understand. I'm in the business, I've read every article in the LJW and I really don't understand who will own and operate what and when. I doubt many others do unless you are really studying the issue. 3. The comissioners were elected to study these issues and make these kind of decisions. 4. Based on previous public improvemnt votes, it will probably pass anyway without an expensive election.

Just my opinion, no need for any hate.

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ljreader 1 year, 2 months ago

Yep. let's see a voting process- not a bidding process. It's our money. We should have a say in whether or not we want to spend it on this.

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