Lawrence and Douglas County

Lawrence and Douglas county

Concept plan for 5K, 10K trails at Rock Chalk Park emerges

July 28, 2013


Rock Chalk Park may end up being more than a top destination for youth basketball, volleyball and a host of Kansas University sporting events, if a city commissioner's plans become reality.

The sports complex and the area surrounding it may become the place where the community goes to run, walk, jog and participate in a host of fun runs and other events that traditionally have been held downtown.

Lawrence City Commissioner Bob Schumm is leading a committee that is recommending a 10 kilometer concrete trail be built on the Rock Chalk Park property and the surrounding area in northwest Lawrence.

"It really could be quite extraordinary," Schumm said.

Schumm has led a seven-member committee that has met several times at the site — which is near Sixth Street and the South Lawrence Trafficway . The group is forwarding recommendations on to the project's architects for further refinement. The ideas include:

• A 5 kilometer, 10-foot wide concrete path that would start and end near the main parking lot for the city's Rock Chalk Park recreation center. The trail would travel along a creek just north of the property and go through areas of timber and open prairie. It also would feature a 100 foot drop in elevation in a quarter mile stretch that would add interest for runners and walkers, Schumm said.

• An additional 5 kilometer trail that would connect to the one on the Rock Chalk Park property. That trail would go north and east from the Rock Chalk Park site along an existing city sewer easement. It would connect with Queens Road, go west along county road N 1750, then connect with the existing South Lawrence Trafficway hike and bike path, which leads back to the Rock Chalk Park property.

• A one- to two-acre section of largely undisturbed prairie land that would be set aside as a conservation effort to ensure future generations will have access to native Kansas prairie.

• Amenities such as two restrooms along the trail route and benches about every 1,000 feet.

• A picnic area with an eight- to 10-foot fire ring that could be used by organizers of fall or winter events who want to provide a warming area for participants or spectators.

Schumm said the plan was designed with events in mind. He said serious cross country meets are not likely to be held at the complex, but he believes it could be ideal for the large number of fun runs and other such events that nonprofit organizations often host downtown.

"I absolutely think we should try to encourage them to have those type of events out there," Schumm said.

Schumm, a downtown restaurant owner, said the variety of running events occurring in or near downtown is creating extra costs for the city's Police Department, which often has to provide traffic control for the events. He's not sure the events are generating enough new economic activity in downtown to offset the costs.

"Generally, the running participant is not the person that goes shopping right of way after they finish running," Schumm said. "Now, if they come to town for a run and spend the night, I think they are going to make their way to downtown regardless of where the race is held."

When a trail system could be in place is an open question. The city has approximately $350,000 for trails in the project's infrastructure budget, Schumm said. He said that would not be enough to construct the system envisioned by the committee. For example, the city is estimating it will cost about $265,000 to do just a six-block extension of the Burroughs Creek Rail Trail in East Lawrence.

Schumm stopped short of saying he would call for the city to spend more dollars on the project. Instead, he said he wanted to see what could be accomplished with the money already budgeted, and also be open to partnerships that could help fund the project. The Rock Chalk Park complex is a joint venture between the city, Kansas University and a private development group headed by Lawrence businessman Thomas Fritzel.

Members of the committee, which was selected by Schumm, said they hope a project can come together. Bob Etzel, who previously was a park commissioner in St. Louis, said the property offers a longterm opportunity for the residents to experience the outdoors.

"Some people may say this is a running trail, but to me it is much larger than that," Etzel said. "The most exciting thing about this project is that is preserving an important piece of landscape for the public. The property out there is a great example of what northeast Kansas has to offer.


Clint Church 4 years, 10 months ago

Forget the concrete and just put in a nature trail.

Bobby Burch 4 years, 10 months ago

Totally agree! A dirt single track would be much less expensive.

Susan Lee 4 years, 10 months ago

Lawrence is so elitist, and becoming even more so. I cannot believe that you have closed the East Lawrence Rec Center due to lack of funds, yet contemplate building more and more for those on the west side (and don't tell the children to "ride the bus" out there)

The gap between the haves and the have nots continues to grow wider in Lawrence. How very sad.

elliottaw 4 years, 10 months ago

  1. The East Lawrence Rec center is not closed.
  2. There are no gyms currently on the west side so our kids have to "ride the bus"
  3. Realistically this is only basketball courts so it's not like you are missing out on anything I think it will be little used by most people

Ken Lassman 4 years, 10 months ago

This comment was removed by the site staff for violation of the usage agreement.

Robert Rauktis 4 years, 10 months ago

So, let's get this straight: the idea is to rob downtown of events which really do draw runners, who theoretically are not the usual deadbeats, to take back the streets in a stimulating historic district and National Geographic campus with events that disturb no one for their time expenditure and scheduling, so they can spend yet more money on man-made trails out at a boondoggle? A runner will come to Lawrence to run on a flat, low interest terrain, when there is now, a really great facilities at Rim Rock Park?

Which planet do these proposals come from?

elliottaw 4 years, 10 months ago

Not to mention that there are already running trails at Clinton Lake Sports Complex

leftylucky 4 years, 10 months ago

The area that contains Baldwin creek (city park?) by the rcp wreck center that contains 49 acres was a gift to the city after the city paid 49000 dollars for the sewer easement that runs along baldwin creek. This easement is for sewage pump stations to carry sewage from west Lawrence to the sewage treatment plant. How will the policing of the private (Fritzel) part of the rcp be handled? Will Fritzel provide the policing?

City gets 49 acres of creek land for 49000 dollars, buys 26 acres at 30000 an acre from KU endowment, city pays for design work rcp wreck center, 1 million dollars m/l. City hides bill self assists foundation donation In infrastructure improvements. Ku endowment , hides behind Rcp llc, Ku athletics hides behind Fritzel and endowment.
Paul Warner architect also was the agent for swan management who sold the land to endowment. He Became the agent for the endowment when the endowment bought the land for the wreck center (hiding behind the limited liability company Rcp llc.

Warner has an office in The one two three building on 8th street, and Fritzel ownes the building,(same building that Lawrence united the political action committee was located ).

cabmando 4 years, 10 months ago

Lets see, 5-10 k x5ft wide concrete path, 4" thick plus contractor fees, that will cost the taxpayers what? A LOT. We have those amenities already about 1/4 mile to the west of RCPark

Interested_Resident 4 years, 10 months ago

Has anybody asked some members of the running community if they want this?

I feel like my mom with bad taste has just got back from TJMax with a weird looking outfit expecting me to think it was great.

A majority of runs are connected to the community's they run through and with this only being suitable for 5k's and 10k's there are not that many runs that would be benefited from the space.

Finally if the path is poured with concrete like the Burrows Creek Trail, a majority of us will avoid the system as the surface is hard on the joints. If this ends up in the final plans, any way it could be made of asphalt, or gravel?

Brock Masters 4 years, 10 months ago

This amenity already exists in Lawrence - it is called a sidewalk.

Eugehne Normandin 4 years, 10 months ago

Will there be a place to hold the St. patricks day parade out there too?

Beth Ennis 4 years, 10 months ago

I agree, concrete is not necessary. Why not make it out of crushed limestone like the levy? That way bikes and runners can use it and it wouldn't cost anywhere near that amount of money. Running on concrete is hard, so if you are going to make a running path, then make it better than concrete. However, I don't want to see the runs move from downtown. A lot of people who come to town for those runs would never know what a great downtown we have if they are going to run out west. They will most likely take the interstate exit on the west side of town or the Hwy 10 exit and never see or go anywhere near downtown. I just don't get it. What I really think is that they are trying to correct this boondoggle so that they all might get re-elected.

q_ball2kand1 4 years, 10 months ago

Bike riders also pay taxes. Maybe you should stay home on a treadmill.

Terry Sexton 4 years, 10 months ago

I'm in favor of adding these trails to the Rock Chalk project & hope they give serious consideration to using asphalt.

del888 4 years, 10 months ago

1 kilometer = 3280.84 feet. So... 5 kilometers = 16,404.2 feet. "Amenities such as two restrooms along the trail route and benches about every 1,000 feet. " Do we need 16 benches installed on a 5K path? I'm not a runner, but I doubt that most runners sit down ever 1000 feet. Scratch the benches off the list and add a couple of beer taps for us non-runners.

Matt Schwartz 4 years, 10 months ago

I thought the running/biking events downtown were paid for by the event organizer to offset police this or isn't this true?

50YearResident 4 years, 10 months ago

Mr Schumm is having visions of grandeur. There seems be no end to spending on everyone's leisure time. Let's pave over the whole county for walking and biking paths. Cement is cheap and Mr Schumm needs a monument for his time served.

George_Braziller 4 years, 10 months ago

He always has had visions of grandeur except usually it's been about himself.

blindrabbit 4 years, 10 months ago

Why no acknowledgement or historical advantage to recognition that the Oregon Trail passed through this property. Any other city would make some "hay" out of recognizing that fact, even Baldwin takes pride in the fact that the Santa Fe Trail passed close to the town site. Interestingly, Kansas City, Missouri and Johnson and Douglas Counties are the only places that both trails are traversed.. The Lawrence area is a little bit ashamed when it comes to historical trail recognition; a result of embarrassment when the Elkin Prairie (that abuts the Rock Chalk Park) was plowed up at night to avoid protests of citizenry about 20 years ago. The property had visible Oregon Trail ruts and was a popular spot back in the day for historical gatherings. And we want something unique, shame on us.

JayhawkFan1985 4 years, 10 months ago

You gotta love that we are even discussing building trails in a location within the city where EVERYONE will have to drive a car to gain access to them. Kansas is so Brownbackward!

Jayhawker07 4 years, 10 months ago

They will build all that out there. That is there point. Just won't happen overnight. We did save money on Fritzels bid for $10 mill. Thomas is a very giving resident. Whe need to show some respect for what has been given to us. The trail is a blessing that has been bestowed upon us. Mr. Schumm has only our best interests while serving the community. Now let's all bow down and say thanks, for we are very thankfull for all they have provided to the city of Lawrence.


blindrabbit 4 years, 10 months ago

I heard that Commissioner Schumm wanted to make sure that the porta potty holes were small enough so nobody could fall through.

Jayhawker07 4 years, 10 months ago

Now that is funny. Right on. I would hope that would never happen again. What a mess!

irvan moore 4 years, 10 months ago

will there be enough space left out there to build a statue of mr. schumm to show our gratitude for his leadership through this trying time for our community

Jstanobservation 4 years, 10 months ago

There will be a memorial plaque on one of the restrooms.

Jayhawker07 4 years, 10 months ago

Maybe we could do a Mr. Bob "Hankey" Schumm one. In bronze too.

Just a thought, check it out.

blindrabbit 4 years, 10 months ago

They ought to line the paths and trails with wood chips from all of the hedge (Osage Orange) trees they will be cutting down out there. Based on Lawrence's bad history of paving streets and roads the wood chips will hold up better than any pavement the City gets involved with.

Mark Jakubauskas 4 years, 10 months ago

Why not sink that amount of money into sidewalk repair, which everyone can use, promotes community, and encourages exercise ?

The current city policy of requiring the homeowner to fork over thousands of dollars for sidewalk repair is idiotic, short-sighted, and other communities have found better ways to deal with it than sending a homeowner a nastygram threatening them if they don't repour the sidewalk. I don't have to pay completely for fixing the street in front of my house, or bear the entire costs of fire and police protection, or even tree removal and replacement. Why is the sidewalk not a city responsibility ?

Jean Robart 4 years, 10 months ago

Ah, but there isn't any "glory" in that.

Brock Masters 4 years, 10 months ago

Here is the deal. There are several running groups in Lawrence so why not ask them what they'd like to see.

A 10K concrete path sounds boring and uninviting, but here is my concept of what would draw me and not compete with other venues. How about a training trail. You basically could construct a 10K loop with a cross over to shorten it to 5k. Construct it out of running friendly material and put in training technical hills that someone can run up, but also have the path go around it for those that do not prefer a challenge.

Regardless of whether I got it right or not, the message is ask the "customers" what they want. Unlike the rest of the park, opinions will be given for free.

Jayhawker07 4 years, 10 months ago

You might want to talk to Thomas about that or one of the LLC's that approves who will do work on there property. They are calling the shots not the city.

1southernjayhawk 4 years, 10 months ago

Comments by those like beatnik, jstanobservation, blindrabbit, 50 year resident are just rude and crude...and not even funny. They feed off each other like my 5th grade schoolmates used to. They add nothing to the conversation and are one of the reason why many civil, civic minded capable people would never consider running for Lawrence City Commission.

What Schumm proposes may or may not be a good idea (I for one like it, especially if linked to the SLT bike path). I think many walkers, joggers, skateboarders, rollerbladers, cyclists and others will like the idea. Time will tell as the idea develops.

But I want to emphasize that I cannot stand trying to read news from Lawrence is this forum and seeing comments from people like the above. In the interest of civility and good manners, perhaps it is time for people to have to use their name with their comments. Many, maybe most, other online local papers require this.

Keith 4 years, 10 months ago

You are not forced to read the comments.

nick_s 4 years, 10 months ago

Mr. Schumm, You have already blown it. No matter what you put out there people will not trust or believe that you have the interest of everyone at heart. Even if you consulted with every special interest group in town & satiated their every request, it seems that no one is going to trust you after the way this was handled from the beginning. Whether this will be a success is going to be a debate for some time, but we will all find out soon enough. I hope that this commission has made the right choice for our community.

Now that its a done deal, what are we going to do to make this a success? Who is building on the newly- zoned property out there to make this a serious attraction to the 32+ tournaments it is said we need to book for this to be self-sustaining? Wichita has a similar center whose funding is set to be approved in August & will be open next summer. They already have firm deals with lodging, food, & entertainment providers. Will they not be a major competitor or will the university be that much of a draw that we just build a rec center & magically youth leagues from across the region & nation will flock here?

Im not for or against the rec center, just hoping that we are making the right decisions here. Starting with a no-bid process seems irresponsible & a bad start to this whole thing. A professor from our fine university always said to get the first step right, because if you messed that one up all of the other steps that follow will be wrong. I will say that if anybody operated their personal finances in such a fashion they wouldn't get far.

Jayhawker07 4 years, 10 months ago

At the very beginning it was presented to us to be self-sustanable like "Fieldhouse USA" in Frisco TX. With Bill Self leading the pack with a $1 mill donation. Land donated, only spend $25 mill cap. on a building worth in excess of $30 mill. Folks in Kansas busting at the seems for childeren basketball leagues needing a place to play.

Now we pay $10 mill. for a building worth yea, $10 mill. We get a prime spot deep in the backside in the corner, no seperate entrance for the Community Building. "Now" they say it was never about being self-sustainable. It is for the children and the community at heart.

You know you are so right about not believing what our elected officials say, and it starts at the very top. Well maybe not that far. But you know what I mean.

PS. What a diss on Mr. Self, saying they will use his money for the infastructure to say it nicely. Which was a no bid major ripoff just like Junction City. Very smooth Fritz. You are a business man for sure. You leagaly have provided what you said you would. Hats of to ya. You should be so proud of yourself. Let's not put that to a vote either.

nick_s 4 years, 10 months ago

"Lawrence officials are counting on about 32 events a year to use its proposed regional recreation center. Lawrence's basketball history and Kansas University’s success in the sport are expected to help attract tournaments and other events that would help pay for the operating costs of the center."


So now that isnt the end game? So we dont have a plan still? First it was for tournaments, & jobs, & revenue, now its just for sh*@s & giggles with more wonderful perks being added, on whims from our commissioners? Mr Schumm, please back away from the rec center, dont touch anything else. You have no more credibility & anything you do will have the stink of improprieties all over it regardless of your intention & process on the go-forward.

del888 4 years, 10 months ago

It seems like building a running path is only in the interest of a few people in Lawrence. Anyone who is interested in jogging or walking for exercise will just walk around their own neighborhood. It's ridiculous to think someone would want to drive out there to the new RCP just to jog on a new path. It's a waste of money to build a running path that only a few will use. Spend the money on something EVERYONE can use. Better yet, fix the broken sidewalks around town.

Currahee 4 years, 10 months ago

How much are they going to charge the citizens of Lawrence who partially funded this?

patkindle 4 years, 10 months ago

I agree, everyone is tired of the gutless wonders that post under an alias oh, I forgot they have high level jobs, or maybe at least their parents do

Jayhawker07 4 years, 10 months ago

My children do Pat. I would hate to have my children be judged and discriminated on what I believe and feel. I say it as I see it. Just as you do, or maybe not.

crafty 4 years, 10 months ago

Chad -- Who are the people that make up the committee that Schumm appointed? Thanks!

Stuart Evans 4 years, 10 months ago

I spend a fair amount of time on all of the existing concrete trails in this town, as do a lot of other people. Some days, it's downright crowded out there. I have no doubt that new trails would be utilized by many; some of us will even bike, walk or run the extra distance, to get out there.

From my perspective, this would be a great addition to our city's healthy lifestyle amenities; but it's only something that I would like to have, not something that we absolutely need.

Bob Forer 4 years, 10 months ago

The most important fact regarding this issue is not mentioned. How much will it cost? I think it is irresponsible to float a trial balloon to the public when there has obviously been no estimates calculated as to cost. I can think of a million things that would be nice to have. But, darn, there's always that stumbling block--can we afford it.

If commissioners want the public to take any idea seriously, they should do their homework first.

James Minor 4 years, 10 months ago

I like the idea. The trails provide anyone with the opportunity to train, or just leisurely exercise in a safe area. The cost needs to be worked out but the concept is good. While people are enjoying the RCP activities others can participate in their own way. Special fund raiser runs can be held without running in traffic and the distances will be known. The city could also require a small percentage from the fun run to offset the maintenance costs. Numerous athletic events are increasing in popularity, duathlons, triathlons, etc, and these activities fit the idea of the RCP. For all those that oppose the trails or exercising in general, maybe Lawrence can put a restaurant nearby for you to sit, watch, and eat, while others get healthy!

NewKansan 4 years, 10 months ago

The broken record continues...surprised we didn't hear about any bushes that needed trimmed. Ghetto? I'll take you to a few ghettos if you really want to see some. Keep up the complaining...people will never take you seriously unless you stop sounding like a cranky old man.

Also off-topic as well. This article is about Rock Chalk Park, which is obviously an issue that has raised considerable public debate. Why not contribute to that discussion?

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