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Archive for Monday, August 4, 2014

Road project for growing northwest Lawrence delayed by 2015 city budget

August 4, 2014

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A growing city budget doesn't quite have enough money to fund a road improvement for an area of Lawrence that is expected to add hundreds of new homes soon.

At least that is how it stands as city commissioners on Tuesday plan to give final approval to the 2015 city budget, which calls for a property tax rate increase of 1.47 mills, or about $28 on a $170,000 home.

As currently proposed, a project to rebuild Queens Road in northwest Lawrence is being delayed one year so the city can make nearly $3 million in improvements to a portion of Ninth Street that are needed to comply with a national art grant received by the Lawrence Arts Center.

City commissioners have been enthusiastic in their support for the $500,000 ArtPlace America grant, which aims to make Ninth Street east of Massachusetts into an arts corridor. But it will come at a cost to an area of town that commissioners hope will become the city's next major growth area.

"There are more wants than wallets at budget time," City Manager David Corliss said of the exclusion of the Queens Road project.

The city's capital improvement plan previously called for beginning design work for Queens Road in 2015 and making the $3.8 million worth of improvements in 2016. But now that timeline will be pushed back a year.

That's despite a host of proposed development near the road, basically gravel with thin coats of pavement in some stretches. Lawrence developer Tim Stultz has received city approvals to build about 190 apartments and 90 single-family homes at the northwest corner of Queens Road and Overland Drive. Stultz said people may begin living in the residences by late 2015.

Farther to the west, an Arkansas development group has applied to build 900 apartments as part of a project known as The Links. It also could have residents in 2016.

Corliss said the city likely will encourage residents of the new developments to use other roads as much as possible, including George Williams Way, Stoneridge Drive and Wakarusa Drive. Corliss said the city has no plans to deny development permits for the area because of the delay in the road project.

The project is to be funded through a roughly equal split between developers and the city.

Here's a look at other major building projects included in the city's 2015 budget:

• $2.2 million to rebuild Bob Billings Parkway between Kasold and Wakarusa.

• $2 million to continue construction of 31st Street between Haskell Avenue and O'Connell Road.

• $1 million for an interchange at the South Lawrence Trafficway and Bob Billings Parkway. In addition to the local funding, the state plans to spend $16 million on the project.

• $800,000 for residential street maintenance.

• $750,000 for new self-contained breathing apparatuses for the fire department.

• $400,000 in design work for a future reconstruction of Kasold from Sixth Street to Bob Billings. The $2.5 million in construction work is planned for 2016.

• $200,000 for the design work to rehabilitate Fire Station No. 1 in downtown Lawrence. The city plans to spend $1.4 million on construction work in 2016.

Commissioners gave preliminary approval to the 2015 budget in late July. It calls for about $188 million in spending. The proposed 1.47 mill increase would add about $28 a year in property taxes to a $170,000 home.

Commissioners meet at 6:35 p.m. Tuesday at City Hall.

Comments

Carolyn Simpson 4 months, 3 weeks ago

It is nice to see a project east of Massachusetts get priority for once.

John Yocum 4 months, 3 weeks ago

Continuing to OK apartments and home building, but sating "no" to retail. Bedroom Community with folks shopping elsewhere. That's Lawrence planning. Oh, and my taxes go up again.

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