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City sets bid date of May 14 for recreation center; project could be completed by spring of 2014

March 26, 2013


If all goes as planned, Lawrence will be playing basketball — and much more — in a new mega recreation center by spring 2014.

“I’m anxious to see it come out of the ground,” Mayor Bob Schumm said.

Commissioners on Tuesday set the project on the path to construction. Commissioners on a 4-1 vote set a bid date of May 14 for the proposed $25 million recreation center, which is slated to be part of the larger Rock Chalk Park sports village just north of the northeast intersection of Sixth Street and the South Lawrence Trafficway. Architects are estimating the city could move into the new facility by June 2014.

About 20 members of the public showed up at an open house Tuesday afternoon to see the plans for the recreation center. Residents attending the event were mixed on the project.

“We’re glad that they are having more bids on the project than what they were planning on previously,” Joanne Dahlberg said. “I don’t know exactly what I think about it, but I understand it a lot better now.”

Commissioners on Tuesday agreed to the city’s standard bid process that will award the construction of the building to the lowest bidder. Previously, the city had considered a process that would have allowed Lawrence developer Thomas Fritzel — a private partner in the larger Rock Chalk Park sports village — to match any low bid for the recreation center.

On Tuesday, much of the attention focused on what will be inside the 181,000-square-foot building. The project includes:

• Eight full-court gyms that also can be used as 16 cross-court gyms or 16 volleyball courts

• A 200-foot by 85-foot indoor turf area that can accommodate one full-length soccer field or three cross-court fields

• An eighth-mile, four lane indoor walking/running track

• Cardio and weight room areas

• A 7,000-square-foot area that can be used as a future wellness center

Several details of the project created excitement from people who attended the open house. Jim Budde, a Lawrence resident, said he’ll use the indoor walking track frequently. Currently, he has to go to the Holcom Recreation Center at 7 a.m. each morning to walk in its gym before classes begin for the day.

Ernie Shaw, the leader of the city’s parks and recreation department, said his department is starting to work on ideas for new programs that can be held in the building, which will be the largest recreation center in the city. The building is designed to host large youth basketball and volleyball tournaments, but Shaw said city programs and leagues also would be added. He said potential uses for the building may include: indoor soccer and football on the large indoor turf area, an enlarged youth volleyball program, youth basketball seasons that extend beyond the normal six-game seasons offered by the department. Shaw said the city may develop a year-round basketball league that would be hosted at the center.

Commissioner Mike Amyx was the lone commissioner to vote against the bid letting. He has expressed concern about the size, scope and location of the proposed center.


somebodynew 5 years, 3 months ago

Let me first say that I am not a proponent of how this whole thing has developed, but one thing still bothers me: What exactly does this 'bid process' do ??? The City has already committed to paying $25 Mill no matter how the bids come in. If I were a contractor and thought I could build it for $20 Mill, and submitted the bid, it does not save the City any money. Somebody is getting $5 Mill more from the City.

At least that is the way I understand what has been written before. Maybe I need more coffee and, if so, I am sure there are plenty of people on here that will tell me that.

Catalano 5 years, 3 months ago

Anything from $25 million not spent on the actual rec center would go toward the cost of the infrastructure. I think.

Patty Buchholz 5 years, 3 months ago

I suppose Fritzel is planning on using the leftover artificial grass from his apartment complex that the city said he couldn't use but let him do it anyway for the indoor field. How many other things will they let him slide by on this 'if he gets the bid'? Oh, I meant when he gets the bid. Very disappointed in the city commission especially Schumm and Dever as they think the public is ignorant enough to believe KU would have move facilities to another county if they don't let Fritzel build this. I am still amazed that the commission believes the taxpayers of Lawrence should continue to pad the Fritzel's pockets while they ignore city building codes and other regulations. Very disappointing.

Richard Heckler 5 years, 3 months ago

By all means. It's never too late. Taxpayers would appreciate the opportunity to express themselves. It's too bad politicians do not trust the voters intuition.

Voters not trusting politicians 24/7 is nothing new no matter who is sitting in office.

Let us vote.

Prairielander 5 years, 3 months ago

They way I understand it, there is a portion (2 gyms) similar to Holcom that will always be open to the public even if there are tournaments or other activities in the Field House portion of the building. Also, other Parks and Rec programs should move to the Field House which will open up gym time at Holcom and East Lawrence.

d_prowess 5 years, 3 months ago

Chad, who is the appropriate contact to make a suggestion for this project? Specifically, I wonder if there has been any thought to incorporating a 3.1 mile (5K) running path throughout the property. I think this would be a great asset to the property as some of the many 5Ks that happen within Lawrence could be moved out there. Thanks for your insights!

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