Lawrence and Douglas County

Lawrence and Douglas county

City review committee fails to recommend approval of incentives for Rock Chalk Park development; City Commission to vote tonight

March 5, 2013


The city’s Public Incentives Review Committee this afternoon failed to recommend approval of a set of incentives for the proposed Rock Chalk Park development.

The review committee deadlocked 3-3 on the issue of whether the proposed sports park should receive $40 million in industrial revenue bonds, which would give the project a 10-year, 100 percent tax abatement valued at about $17 million.

Lawrence city commissioners, though, still have the final say on whether the project should receive the incentive. City commissioners will consider the issue at their 6:35 p.m. meeting today at City Hall.

On the Public Incentives Review Committee, members Boog Highberger, Rob Chestnut — who is a current candidate for the Lawrence City Commission — and Douglas County Commissioner Mike Gaughan voted against recommending the incentive.

Committee members who voted to recommend the incentive were Mayor Bob Schumm, City Commissioner Mike Dever and Brad Burnside. Other members of the committee either were absent or abstained from voting.

Chestnut, a chief financial officer by trade, raised several questions about whether the financial analysis conducted by the city painted an adequate picture of the financial cost and benefits of the project. He said he could see a larger value of the project, but said the city’s economic development policy indicates projects that receive an incentive should meet a certain cost-to-benefit ratio and it was unclear that this project met that standard.

Gaughan said he believed the financing agreement between Thomas Fritzel’s Bliss Sports and various KU entities still wasn’t understood well enough.

“I just wondered what type of precedent we were setting with the lack of clarity on a lot of these financial details,” Gaughan said after making his vote.

The project, slated for the area north and east of the South Lawrence Trafficway and Sixth Street interchange, calls for stadiums for track and field, soccer and softball that would be owned by Fritzel’s Bliss Sports but would be leased to Kansas Athletics.

On adjacent property, the city is considering building a $25 million city-owned recreation center. The Public Incentives Review Committee on Tuesday wasn’t considering any items directly related to the recreation center.


Bob Forer 1 year, 1 month ago

Okay, you sheep of Lawrence, listen, and then repeat twenty times:

'I'm as mad as hell, and I'm not going to take this anymore!


oneeye_wilbur 1 year, 1 month ago

I am really dumb and just don't know why KU doesn't do their own thing.

The city can do something later, it is really

Why would Fritzel get money if the city backed out? Is the City already "in". and we don't know about it?


lhs96299 1 year, 1 month ago

The three C's control Lawrence, KS. -- Collusion, Cronyism, Corruption.


oneeye_wilbur 1 year, 1 month ago

This issue should have been reviewed long ago. This is a perfect example of why businesses do not want to deal with Lawrence beauracracy. Only the locals do, because they control it.


Cindy Yulich 1 year, 1 month ago

The superintendent of Perry was in attendance at the meeting.


Catalano 1 year, 1 month ago

So I take it that Cindy Yulich abstained?


Bob Forer 1 year, 1 month ago

Odd that Dever and Schumm would serve on a committee that makes recommendation to the City Commission on which they sit. Its kinda like making a recommendation to oneself. Absurd, simply absurd.


irvan moore 1 year, 1 month ago

mr. schumm and mr. dever should have recused themselves, if (when) they pass this later tonight at the commission meeting will show the total lack of respect they have for the taxpayers of this didn't pass the pirc, that at least means slow down and take a closer look


Hudson Luce 1 year, 1 month ago

Aron Cromwell's wife is Hannah Fritzel, Joel Fritzel's daughter... I wonder how Aron's going to vote?


UneasyRider 1 year, 1 month ago

If Chesnut is against it, it means its probably good for taxpayers and bad for Chamber members.


Keith Richards 1 year, 1 month ago

Does Burnside stand to make any loans for any of the RCP as the local president of US Bank?


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