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?