Archive for Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Editorial: What’s next?

Lighting at Rock Chalk Park is just the latest controversy caused by officials willingness to rush this project forward.

February 26, 2014


Lawrence city officials have agreed to spend approximately $2,500 to hire an engineer to determine whether a series of 100-foot light poles at the Rock Chalk Park development in northwest Lawrence will cause an unacceptable amount of light to shine on adjacent properties.

That’s not the question that should be asked.

The question is: Why did the developer/builder violate the terms of an agreement with the city about the lighting? And what do city officials intend to do about the violation: look the other way, slap some wrists, figure out some way to justify the 100-foot poles, require the poles to be replaced with shorter poles, or what?

This latest chapter in the Rock Chalk Park mess is another in the list of errors that already have been exposed and additional errors of judgement that are almost sure to surface in the coming months due to the manner in which this project was rammed through by Lawrence city officials, Kansas Athletics officials, KU Endowment Association officials and the builder/developer.

The problem is compounded by the fact that city officials mistakenly issued building permits for the project before a lighting plan from the developer was presented to the City Commission, which was a condition of the commission’s zoning approval for the project.

It’s another example of the many fallouts of the rush-rush approach to getting the recreation park under way.

The attorney for a neighboring property owner now says the city may need to limit the number and type of events that can be held at the park because some events might increase the lighting problems. The only trouble with this reasoning is that the developer’s Bliss Sports owns the stadiums and other facilities and has a lease with Kansas Athletics that allows the owners to use the facilities — three venues for track and field, soccer and softball — for other events. Except when the facilities are booked for KU events, Bliss Sports will be allowed to schedule its own events — although non-sports events would require permits from the city. In addition, Bliss Sports will get the proceeds from concessions, ticket sales, parking fees, etc.

It’s a one-way street, and the only ones to blame are city, KUEA and Kansas Athletics officials, who were so blind and enthralled by the project.

What’s the next chapter, and how will city officials explain or justify their oversight?


Richard Heckler 4 years, 3 months ago

Why was any construction activity allowed to move forward before site plan approval?

It seems to me the city has plenty of regulations on the book regarding lighting that a special task force should not be necessary.

How is it tax abatements and such can be approved after site plan approval? Shouldn't all matters be resolved before any ground is broken? No matter if it downtown apartments,hotels or Rock Chalk Parks?

Obviously developers have zero respect for city hall. Why do city commissioners support such nonsense as described above? What's with the reckless behavior?

Lawrence Morgan 4 years, 3 months ago

To me, it seems much more than reckless behavior. It's gone beyond that. Richard Heckler and the Editorial writer make many of the most important points.

If this were a private business, how would regulators and employees let this kind of thing go ahead? Once people found out, you would be fired and possibly also be put behind prison walls. I simply don't understand it. Tax money, and more important - people's future lives in Lawrence - are at stake.

It seems to me that an investigation is in order NOW. Maybe employees and/or city commissioners have an inside track? Who knows?

This kind of thing can't continue either at city hall or with the developers. The city goes overboard to collect $25 for rentals, but when it come to the big stuff, they are barely seen or heard.

Please, let's investigate the developers, previous city commissioners (who approved this project with very little upfront discussion), and city hall inspectors NOW!

Alan Baker 4 years, 3 months ago

Investigate everyone involved with this project from top to bottom. Start with KUEA and KU Athletics, they gave the developer the power over the politicians who control the tax payers check book. A independant audit would discover acts of corruption never seen in this part of the country.

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