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Archive for Tuesday, July 16, 2013

City Commission approves Rock Chalk Park

July 16, 2013

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Construction on the Rock Chalk Park recreation center should begin soon, after the Lawrence city commissioners approved the project Tuesday night.

The public-private partnership between the city, a Kansas University Endowment entity and a private company led by Lawrence developer Thomas Fritzel will include eight gyms, an indoor turf field and a fitness center, among other amenities. The city is investing $22.5 million in the 181,000-square-foot project to be located at the Sixth Street and K-10 intersection.

The commissioners delayed the final agreement at their last meeting but had their concerns addressed Tuesday, enough to approve the measure by a 4-1 vote with Commissioner Mike Amyx dissenting.

The revised development agreement now requires monthly meetings for the commissioners to review infrastructure costs to make sure they are paying fair-market value, as the city is allowing Fritzel’s firm to build the infrastructure on a no-bid contract. In addition, the revised development agreement makes clear that the project's legal fees, loan origination fees and loan interest fees are exempt from a 2.5 percent management fee that Fritzel's firm is entitled to charge the city as part of the construction of the project.

A couple of residents voiced their displeasure with the project prior to the vote.

“My perception of this is the taxpayers in Lawrence are getting the shaft,” said Ross Duffy, of Lawrence. “I don’t think most of the middle-class and lower-class people can afford it.”

After another citizen complained about the secrecy surrounding the project, Commissioner Jeremy Farmer said that the “venomous and offensive” commentary often heard in Lawrence is unproductive and called for more civility in local politics. Commissioner Bob Schumm added that the public had been able to give its input on the proposed project for the past 18 months.

In other business of note, the commissioners:

  • Approved construction of a new traffic signal at Bob Billings Parkway and George Williams Way to make way for an expected increase in traffic in the area after the completion of an interchange at Bob Billings and K-10. The Kansas Department of Transportation estimated that a additional 5,000 vehicles would start using the interchange immediately after it is completed in November 2015 (construction is expected to start next spring). The city approved $275,000 in general obligation bonds for the project.
  • Loosened the requirements for when a retail market study would need to be completed before a large retail project can be built in the city. City planning staff already does such analysis every two years. The study will now be required for proposals of more than 100,000 square feet rather than 50,000, and applicants will no longer be required to provide independent, project-specific analysis. Thresholds of an 8 percent vacancy rate and 100 square feet per capita also were removed.

Comments

oneeye_wilbur 9 months ago

I am still concerned with Amyx voting no and not ONE of the four will align themselves with him!

Therefore, is he credible and the others are not? Or are they credible and he just votes NO, knowing the yea votes are in!

Now if Amyx would vote NO on recycling fees,I would see he is consistent.

If Amyx would take to task the Planning Department and the stupid rental registration plan.

Why should owners of rentals pump more money into them, when the city doesn't keep it's end of the bargain? Look at the streets, lighting, overgrown urban forest for example, alleys?

The commissioners , all of the, I do believe have taken the easy route and don't make the hard calls that need to be made. That Mr. Farmer is why you perceive the public to be venomous. The commissioners, Planning Department, and City Manager have aptly created the atmosphere you have come to believe exists.

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Beefy48 9 months ago

I agree with most of the comments on Mr. Farmer. He has an obvious control complex and doesn't get the role of a commissioner. His comments toward this rock chalk park have always protected it and I do believe his campaign was heftily funded by the people in this project. Also, he has the most self righteous attitude i have ever meet and always wants his back to be patted for his work at just food. He obviously used his position there as stepping stone and "look at me" to get his way into this power position. Good luck Lawrence with this new commissioners team.

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oneeye_wilbur 9 months ago

But Corliss works for the commission, so we are to believe.

Again, I say it and would be more than happy to have a letter to the editor if the J/W would print it.

This commission is arrogant, the staff , not all, have become to believe they are a private corporation with no regards to the public and their financial abilities or investment in the community.

I have an email where an investor group stated that it would be easier to get something done in Communist China than Lawrence. That is how bad it is!

wilbur

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JayhawkFan1985 9 months ago

Make no mistake, Lawrence is as brownbackward as the rest of Kansas. David Corliss needs to go. That would help.

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lawrencereporter 9 months ago

Thomas Fritzel and his partners in Fort Development LLC have walked from their project in April giving the ownership rights of the property to Geary County instead of paying approximately 4 million dollars in real estate taxes and special assessments owed on their development in Junction City called Olivia Farms.

Geary County will auction the property at a sheriffs sale in August.

This happened in April, did the Lawrence city staff or elected officials know their builder of the recreation center and N0-Bid RCP infrastructure project has left another community holding the bag. Did Fritzel tell them back in April.

Junction City paid Thomas Fritzel and company 12 million dollars for a N0-Bid infrastructure project at the Olivia Farms development.

Sound familiar.

Fort Development LLC: Thomas Fritzel, Brent Padgett, Bill Penny, and Todd Sutherland.

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bevy 9 months ago

Dear Mr. Schumm, 18 months? Yes, there has been public commentary for 18 months. Tons of it. The only problem is, you guys didn't LISTEN to any of it. You know what is best for your consitutents - the Fritzels, that is, and you are gonna do what you are gonna do.

Since I don't live in Lawrence, I can just sit back and watch the soap opera unfold. But as a citizen of the USA I am appalled by the way you and your buddies on the commission have played fast-and-loose with taxpayer money and the bidding processes that have been put in place to protect citizens from graft and corruption.

Perhaps you and the other guys should go and read the Bible passage that talks about avoiding even the appearance of evil. If this project is so open, so honest, so above-board - why were you afraid to let it follow the normal bidding channels?

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blindrabbit 9 months ago

maracas: I have no problem with Memorial Stadium as it now exists, but agree it seems to be the "want" of the KUAD to get the track out. What are the plans then, lower the field, add about 10 rows and about 5,000 additional seats. Can't fill the stadium now, too mediocre a long term football program. Too much competition for $$$'s, especially with the insanity fascination that many KU alums have with the Chiefs.

By-the-way, the best college football stadium in which I've attended a game is the very old Franklin Field at University of Pennsylvania (no not Penn State) in Philadelphia, Kind of reminds one of the current KU layout, with 54,000 capacity, it also a in-stadium track. Was home of the Eagles for a while, but more famously for the annual Penn Relays.

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Maracas 9 months ago

Let's focus on what's important about this project. The track will be removed from Memorial Stadium. The stadium can be remodeled to look like an actual D-1 football venue rather than a high school stadium. Yeah, I said it.

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jack22 9 months ago

Next time some rich developer says he's going to give us a gift or is going to do something for us the city needs to come up with a polite way of saying no thanks. All these gifts are getting rather expensive for everyone but the person doing the giving.

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blindrabbit 9 months ago

All these complaints! Lawrence needs a different form of city government., but will not happen! Need more accountability, but with only 15% of voters voting for this continuing charade, what do you expect. A strong mayor directly elected by popular vote without going through the current commission would be a modern update for a city this size. As it is now, a City Commission (with non-professionals) with a hired City Manager (given carte blanche) gives too much opportunity for the smoke and mirrors we now have.

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mikekt 9 months ago

"After another citizen complained about the secrecy surrounding the project, Jeremy Farmer said that the "venomous and offensive" commentary often heard in Lawrence is unproductive and called for more civility".

Perhaps the reasons why The People's Public Commentaries on Rock Chalk Park, are so "venomous and offensive", Commissioner Farmer, is because most of the City Commissions' responses to the people's stated concerns about the "lack of having a public vote of citizen approval" on such a large and expensive project",..... were to ignore the citizens concerns....... and because of the fact that the publics concerns about, "the giving of a very large construction contract to Mr Thomas Fritzels Companies, by the City Commissioners, without any competitive bidding process, ( that is the standard job letting procedure ) , on such a large project",....... that has fallen unproductively, on the ears of a group of mostly ( save for Mike Amyx ) disinterested appearing City Commissioners .

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crafty 9 months ago

"After another citizen complained about the secrecy surrounding the project, Commissioner Jeremy Farmer said that the “venomous and offensive” commentary often heard in Lawrence is unproductive and called for more civility in local politics"

Mr. Farmer, please remember that as a City Commissioner, you work for ALL of the citizens of Lawrence, not just the long list of Fritzels who very generously donated to your campaign. As taxpayers, we are entitled to express our opinions of city government both publicly and privately. By referring to these comments as "venonmous and offensive" you do not endear yourself to the public you are supposedly serving. Have the comments at times been negative and critical...yes. Have they been true...most of the time, yes. Are they important...absolutely!! Simply because some of your constituents disagree with you does not make them wrong or uncivil or unproductive. I believe the citizens of Lawrence (and especially the person who complained about the secrecy) are entitled to a public apology.

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minimadoff 9 months ago

A public official can commit honest services fraud only by accepting a bribe or a kickback.

A public official accepts a bribe when he “corruptly . . . receives . . . anything of value . . . in return for . . . being influenced in the performance of any official act.”

One element of bribery is that the public official must agree that “his official conduct will be controlled by the terms of the promise or the undertaking.”—“The illegal conduct is taking or agreeing to take money for a promise to act in a certain way.”

This agreement must include a quid pro quo—the receipt of something of value “in exchange for an official act.”

The agreement between the public official and the person offering the bribe need not spell out which payments control which particular official acts. Rather, “it is sufficient if the public official understood that he or she was expected to exercise some influence on the payor’s behalf as opportunities arose.”

Farmer.........................

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cheeseburger 9 months ago

'After another citizen complained about the secrecy surrounding the project, Commissioner Jeremy Farmer said that the “venomous and offensive” commentary often heard in Lawrence is unproductive and called for more civility in local politics.'

I love ya Mr. Farmer, but your comment is way out of bounds. First, you were elected to represent your constituency, and hearing differing views is just part of it. Secondly, anyone with a modicum of attentiveness and common sense can see that the way this whole RCP fiasco has been handled has been less than stellar. For someone who ran on the platform of transparency, this debacle has been anything but transparent and above-board.

I supported the concept of RCP, but I am vehemently opposed to the way the entire process has been handled. It reeks of 'good-ole-boy' and underhandedness, two things I would have presumed you would have been opposed to.

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Matthew Herbert 9 months ago

The survey I would like to see taken (and reported publicly) is one full year after both the library and rec center have been completed, what percentage of Lawrencians have stepped foot in/made use of BOTH. I think the community would be shocked at how low that number would/will be.

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Abdu Omar 9 months ago

I am appalled by the approval of this Rock Chalk project because a proposal of such magnitude should have been approved by a vote of the people. You are spending our money and I want to know who is going to use that facility so far from campus and from the rest of Lawrence. I am sure there will plenty of parking, but where are the cars students need to get out there? Oh, only the rich students whose daddies can afford to buy them their new shiny car will be using the project. This is a terrible waste of tax payer money and I can't wait for the next election.

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Richard Heckler 9 months ago

Has Fritzel paid his $50,000 fine as we speak?

"After another citizen complained about the secrecy surrounding the project, Commissioner Jeremy Farmer said that the “venomous and offensive” commentary often heard in Lawrence is unproductive and called for more civility in local politics. Commissioner Bob Schumm added that the public had been able to give its input on the proposed project for the past 18 months."

There has been a certain amount of “venomous and offensive” commentary coming from the bench in recent times I must say. Politicians are not to be worshipped but are to respond to taxpayers in a courteous and ethical manner. In realty commissioners work for the majority of the people not for the few.

"Loosened the requirements for when a retail market study would need to be completed before a large retail project can be built in the city. City planning staff already does such analysis every two years. The study will now be required for proposals of more than 100,000 square feet rather than 50,000, and applicants will no longer be required to provide independent, project-specific analysis. Thresholds of an 8 percent vacancy rate and 100 square feet per capita also were removed."

Voting taxpayers do not consider elected officials as the "economic giants of our time" therefore a more frequent retail market study plan keeps our city hall and politicians updated accordingly as to current fiscal market conditions. This is preferred as opposed to reckless management.

Thank you, Merrill

3

oneeye_wilbur 9 months ago

Mr Farmer, civility you want needs to be earned by the commission.

Owners have had their zoning stripped from them. East Hills business was and is a public private partnership bot the private details and monetary gains to the private parties have not to date ever been revealed

In a lighter matter, 14th and Tenn is still not upgraded after almost two years now. Downtown parking lots are a disgrace. Just today I watched some Dude sweeping hither and and yonder. I hope he is not paid for the sloppy job.

The direction of this city directly falls upon the commission.

Most of the city east of Kasold is derelict and no matter whether we are gouged for recycling, rental registration, unless the city keeps it's end of the bargain, all is in vain!

Perhaps, you can tell me and others where this "gift" from Fritzel is?

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LJ Whirled 9 months ago

Free money for the Special Few! Woot!

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Eride 9 months ago

"Commissioner Bob Schumm added that the public had been able to give its input on the proposed project for the past 18 months."

How was the public supposed to give input on this project when the commission made decisions approving this project before many details (or almost any) were finalized? Even now, 18 months later, I sincerely doubt most of the public are even certain what those details are.

Graft at it's finest...

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