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.


Keith Richards 5 years, 3 months ago

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

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 5 years, 3 months ago

Even if he doesn't, a yes vote on this issue will get him favorable treatment down the line on projects that will benefit him. That's how government by cronyism works.

UneasyRider 5 years, 3 months ago

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

Hudson Luce 5 years, 3 months ago

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

Catalano 5 years, 3 months ago

Being about facts and not innuendo, I would recommend that you get yourself into the loop a little more. Not defending Cromwell, just saying that he's not married to Hannah at this particular moment in time. Okay? (It's public record.) Sheesh.

George_Braziller 5 years, 3 months ago

Do a little research and you'll find out who he was "dancing" with. It makes it all an interesting twist.

Catalano 5 years, 3 months ago

Doesn't it though. And, btw, who was Hannah "dancing" with before the dance you refer to? Perhaps someone who ran for national office last year?

Catalano 5 years, 3 months ago

OMG, I just innuendoed. I positively HATE when that happens.

Attn. moderator: Please be a Calgon and delete me and take me away from all this.

Catalano 5 years, 3 months ago

Well, 2009 was 2009. 2012 was 2012. And today is today. Do you ever read the court proceedings in the Monday paper? Know how to google?

irvan moore 5 years, 3 months 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

Bob Forer 5 years, 3 months 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.

Catalano 5 years, 3 months ago

Apparently you don't understand how the PIRC is structured. It's not Schumm and's who gets to sit on PIRC at any given time.

Bob Forer 5 years, 3 months ago

What did I mention that was incorrect? Six people made the Committee's recommendation. Two of those six were essentially making recommendations to themselves. WTF does "structure" have to do with it. You are just as intellectually dishonest as the CC.

Hudson Luce 5 years, 3 months ago

It's not absurd, it's self-dealing. Lawrence city government is just a mechanism for transferring taxpayer dollars to people like the Fritzels and Compton. If city commissioners were required to recuse themselves from voting on issues which would enrich major contributors or relatives, we wouldn't be having a lot of these problems. That, and going to a district voting system instead of an at-large system.

jafs 5 years, 3 months ago

Yes, that seems nuts.

City commissioners shouldn't be able to be members of PIRC. But what about former commissioners or those who are running?

Catalano 5 years, 3 months ago

So I take it that Cindy Yulich abstained?

Catalano 5 years, 3 months ago

Sounds like Shannon Kimball was absent. But USD 497 doesn't cover the boundaries of this project. Interesting. Wonder what the school district in that area thinks? Wonder if the city asked them?

Catalano 5 years, 3 months ago

But, Wilby, if you ran you could have your own WILBY district!

One-Eyed Wilbur for City Commission!

One-Eyed Wilbur for City Commission! by Catalano

Cindy Yulich 5 years, 3 months ago

The superintendent of Perry was in attendance at the meeting.

Catalano 5 years, 3 months ago

Nice to know. Were they allowed to comment?

lhs96299 5 years, 3 months ago

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

Bob Forer 5 years, 3 months 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!

jhawkinsf 5 years, 3 months ago

"I understand you're mad as hell, but I wish you'd stop shouting so often and so loud. I'd actually listen to you if you took some effort to pick your fights. But just because every issue has become in crisis in your life doesn't mean I'm obligated to respond in kind." Did I get that right? Baaaa bleat baaaa.


(posted with a smile on my face and hoping it will be received in kind).

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