Lawrence and Douglas County

Lawrence and Douglas county

City leaders want to meet with Indian tribe over future of North Lawrence land

October 8, 2013


Lawrence city commissioners want to have a face-to-face meeting with leaders of the Delaware Tribe of Indians to learn their intentions for developing a prime piece of North Lawrence property along the Kansas Turnpike.

Commissioners at their Tuesday evening meeting directed City Manager David Corliss to seek a meeting with tribal officials in Oklahoma within the next two to three weeks.

“I would rather be a part of any conversations sooner rather than later,” City Commissioner Bob Schumm said. “I’m very concerned about the environmental impact development could have on that property. It is a delicate piece of property. When it rains, I’ve seen that area look like a great lake out there.”

The tribe this summer purchased approximately 90 acres of farmland along the turnpike, formerly owned by the Pine family as a sod farm, just east of the North Lawrence interchange.

The tribe has not released specific plans for the property, other than saying it hopes to provide housing, child care and medical care for American Indians in the region. But speculation has centered on the tribe having an interest in casino gaming on the property, in part because the tribe expressed an interest in having a casino in northeast Kansas in 2000. The entire North Lawrence area was part of the tribe’s Kansas reservation until it was forced to move to Oklahoma after the Civil War.

City commissioners on Tuesday said they would like for Mayor Mike Dever, City Commissioner Jeremy Farmer and one Douglas County commissioner to travel to Oklahoma to meet privately with tribal leaders. Afterward, a joint study session of city and county commissioners to discuss the future of the property likely would be held.

The property is just outside the Lawrence city limits, but any development is likely to have major effects on city property because of stormwater drainage issues. Tribal officials have confirmed that they are working to have the land put into federal trust, which would make the property sovereign Indian territory and not subject to the city or county’s development regulations.

City and county officials might nevertheless have some sway in the future of the property because tribal officials might seek to negotiate for some services from local governments, such as water, sewer, police and fire protection.

Farmer said he hopes any trip to meet with tribal leaders could help build a stronger relationship between the two parties.

“We need to start building bridges, and we don’t want to do anything to isolate people here,” Farmer said. “I don’t want people’s assumptions to start taking over. The last think I want to do is to tell a Native American tribe that they are not welcome in our community.”

In other news, commissioners at their weekly meeting:

• Approved $40 million of industrial revenue bonds for the Rock Chalk Park sports park on a 4-1 vote. The bonds are mechanisms to exempt from property taxes the track and field stadium, softball facilities and soccer fields that will be leased to Kansas University. The project doesn’t qualify for an automatic property tax exemption because it is not owned by KU. A company led by Lawrence developer Thomas Fritzel will own the property. City Commissioner Mike Amyx voted against the bond issuance.

• Unanimously agreed to name the business park being developed on the former Farmland fertilizer plant Lawrence VenturePark.

• Unanimously approved a rezoning request for about two acres of property at 2518 Ridge Court for a senior duplex housing project. Stormwater drainage issues caused several neighbors to object to the development of an open lot behind the United Way headquarters, but commissioners agreed to take extra steps to review the drainage plans for the project. The 14-unit complex is being developed by the nonprofit Tenants to Homeowners organization.


Richard Heckler 4 years, 8 months ago

"City commissioners on Tuesday said they would like for Mayor Mike Dever, City Commissioner Jeremy Farmer and one Douglas County commissioner to travel to Oklahoma to meet privately with tribal leaders"

As a taxpayer I am requesting a verbatim transcript be made available for all taxpayers to review as a matter of transparency and fairness to all North Lawrence homeowners for they are the second largest number of stakeholders in this matter.

The overall largest number of stakeholders are the combined taxpayers of Lawrence,Kansas and Douglas County.

William McCauley 4 years, 8 months ago

It's none of y'all's damn business, butt out and mind your own bees wax!

nick_s 4 years, 8 months ago

Good luck on that one sir. If they are travelling on taxpayer dime & meeting as representatives of the city of Lawrence, then yes, an exact transcript should be available in my opinion.

Tradways 4 years, 8 months ago

Wow, the city will hand over $750,000 to the homeless shelter that produces nothing, but crime. Ask the home owner directly east of the shelter. But when a taxable, money revenue making business wants to develop land NORTH of LAWRENCE CITY LIMITS they want to stop it at every turn. Probably will call up US Troops and relocate them again.

Brian Hall 4 years, 8 months ago

There are no homes "directly east" of the shelter. The first house is across East 1700 Road about a quarter of a mile away. And there is no proof that what the Delaware Tribe want to put on the land will be a money-maker. If it's housing and community amenities like a medical center or tribal center, it's not going to be making money. Either way, the city needs to know what's going there because it will more than likely need to use the city's infrastructure whether it's apartments or a casino.

rtwngr 4 years, 8 months ago

If I were the Delaware Indian tribe, I would tell the visiting dignitaries from Lawrence, KS to take a hike.

Richard Heckler 4 years, 8 months ago

No one said anything about stopping a Casino as yet. Asking for a transcript is smart business for taxpayers. Don't want commissioners promising away zillions in tax subsidies.

That $750,000 for the shelter is a loan with a lien.

If only liens were attached to all of the developer tax dollar give aways so we taxpayers could get our money back when projects go bankrupt or if the business fails to meet the obligations attached to the tax dollar subsidies or if the business pulls up stakes suddenly. We need our money.

Let's see a $12 million tax dollar subsidy could provide several thousand homeowners with a property tax abatement perhaps for ten years. That's a nice thought.

somebodynew 4 years, 8 months ago

Merrill - you have been around long enough that I shouldn't have to even reply to your comment - "That $750,000 for the shelter is a loan with a lien. "

You don't seriously believe that means anything to the Shelter, do you? The only reason they are coming to the City is because their construction loan is coming due and they can't pay it. What makes you think they will have money to pay this - mortgage or not ??

Richard Heckler 4 years, 8 months ago

It all depends on the terms of the loan for one thing. It will most likely be affordable. For it will not be in the best interest of the community not to arrange the loan accordingly. It would be smart to make it work.

Not only that this loan may well be the most fiscal responsible choice as opposed to the downtown activity once again. Homeless people cannot be tossed in jail for being homeless. Jail is a very expensive hotel for the homeless.

It may also depend on how strong the feeling to keep the shelter in that location rather than have all the homeless activity in the downtown area once again.

The city takes on second mortgages frequently. The terms are quite desirable. A blessing in disguise.

Richard Heckler 4 years, 8 months ago

How many want a Casino in their backyard? That property may well be toxic after years of sod farming...

As a side note regarding lawn care:

Tammy Copp-Barta 4 years, 8 months ago

Funny how the city/county ignores North Lawrence until 1) there is the possibility they could loose money and 2) an Indian tribe buys it!! If I were the tribe, I'd say none of your business what we put here, go play in your high dollar, waste of money Rock Chalk park!

To the tribe, I say, welcome!

Keith 4 years, 8 months ago

"Unanimously agreed to name the business park being developed on the former Farmland fertilizer plant Lawrence VenturePark."

Go Team Venture!

Lawrence Morgan 4 years, 8 months ago

Please take a look at my most recent blog. Even though there is one comment, it is not posted on the front page, although others with NO COMMENT are. This is a very important blog, but the Journal World apparently thinks it is of no interest whatsoever.

And make a comment.

patkindle 4 years, 8 months ago

I assume the city fathers will want to offer "beads, buttons and other trinkets," to insure they still get to get tax money from the sovereign nation

nytemayr 4 years, 8 months ago

what is the point of having a website when you only post the headline. I have a paper subscription but this online site just sucks!

windjammer 4 years, 8 months ago

No they will not it will be a money ranch.

UPNYA 4 years, 8 months ago

"Private meeting with tribal leaders" sounds like they are working out the kick back payments they will receive in order for the Lawrence leaders to approve everything they ask for. Oh well at least I don't have to drive to Topeka or Kansas City to gamble.........

Jeanette Kekahbah 4 years, 8 months ago

why are people in PUBLIC office seeking a PRIVATE meeting? why is a trip to Bartlesville necessary? hello, guess what, tribes have all the fancy gadgets you Lawrence City slickers do like telephones, computers, internets & emails. skype has a pretty nice miles per gallon feature. videoconferencing is a great thing. and so easy to upload on city/county websites for all city/county residents to view. seriously. wth?

Richard Heckler 4 years, 8 months ago

Invite the Delaware Tribe to a CC study session so taxpayers can view this conversation. This is in the best interest of all concerned.

Taxpayers want to know.

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