A city project to convert the former Farmland Industries fertilizer plant into a business park may end up being a new venture in more ways than one.
Lawrence city commissioners at their Tuesday evening meeting will consider officially naming the business park Lawrence VenturePark.
"What we really wanted to convey with the park is that it is a project with a lot of energy," said Megan Gilliland, the city's communications manager and a member of the team that studied the naming issue.
Gregory Thomas, the director of the Center for Design Research at KU, volunteered his services to work with the group seeking a name for the 400-plus acre park that is along Kansas Highway 10 on the east side of Lawrence. Other names considered included: VentureCenter, ReSource Center, Prairie Center, Corporate Business Center, HarvestCenter, Heartland Gateway Center, Element Business Park, Riverview Technology Center, Innovative Industry Center, Spark Technology Center (or Spark Park, for short), Progress Place, EcoVision Park, ReNew Business Center, Parkland Commerce, Crosstrails Commerce, Greenway Park and reConnect Park.
Gilliland said if city commissioners approve the new name, it will allow for marketing brochures and other materials to be created for the park, which currently is undergoing the construction of infrastructure such as roads and sewers.
Commissioners at their Tuesday evening meeting also will consider adjusting those infrastructure plans. The biggest adjustment sought by staff is a $1 million increase in the budget to complete a northward extension of O'Connell Road.
The project originally had called for O'Connell to connect to a frontage road in the business park. The new plan calls for O'Connell to extend all the way to 19th Street. But city officials said they would stop just short of connecting O'Connell to 19th Street. Instead they would wait to make that connection in a future year when the budget allows for 19th Street to be improved to handle additional traffic.
But staff members are recommending the O'Connell roadwork be completed now, while construction crews are already on site.
Commissioners also will be asked to approve about $977,000 in change orders for the project. Some of the changes have resulted from unexpected environmental issues on the site. The city has spent about $165,000 to remove soil that was contaminated with asbestos. The city also is spending $150,000 to build a new retaining wall on the site that wasn't originally anticipated as part of the road design for the project.
Construction bids for the Farmland project came in well below engineer's estimates earlier this year, giving the city room in its budget to absorb the latest change orders. Bids for the road and sewer line work came in at about $5.5 million in April. The city had budgeted about $9.5 million for the project.
Commissioners meet at 6:35 p.m. Tuesday at City Hall.