To the editor:
Convenience rules. Rock Chalk Park gets no free passes to that law of consumerism. Three unresolved issues confronting Lawrence taxpayers deserve attention BEFORE city commissioners sign the development agreement, committing $2.3 million to nonrefundable “preliminaries.”
1) Accommodations. Industry consultants have already warned us: Without adequate on-site restaurants and lodging, special events planning will be a miss, not the hoped-for financial hit needed to pay for this bright idea, year after year.
2) Parking. Plans call for 7,500 shared parking spaces. One Kansas University stadium alone will seat 10,000, so whose events win top parking priority access: KU or the city?
3) Contracts. When did the public forfeit our right to protection and democracy? To contractually commit to an $18 million (no, wait, a $25 million) obligation without resolving taxpayers’ essential safeguards beforehand is pure negligence.
Yes, we need more rec space. Isn’t the issue, though, getting out-of-town folks to pay the annual costs, via special events? Event planners and event attendees all know people want assurance of two big concerns before they make reservations to attend playoffs/conventions: 1) Can we all eat and sleep nearby, at reasonable rates? and 2) Is there plenty of easy on-site parking? Even if we offer 50 basketball courts, it won’t pay the annual upkeep if these pedestrian issues blow the lid off the financial bottom line.
We need to slow this rockslide down a bit and get some answer before committing.