Archive for Sunday, April 24, 2016

Lawrence City Commission will be asked to support funding for proposed $20 million transit hub on KU campus

A Lawrence Transit System bus stops just south of Seventh and Vermont streets, Monday, Jan. 18, 2016.

A Lawrence Transit System bus stops just south of Seventh and Vermont streets, Monday, Jan. 18, 2016.

April 24, 2016

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Looking out over what could be the future site of a transportation hub (a Kansas University parking lot filled with vehicles on a Friday afternoon), the president of the nearby University Place Neighborhood Association explained some of the questions neighbors have about the project.

They want to know what kind of noise and air quality the transit hub would produce; whether it would push traffic into University Place; and if the center, which would include multiple levels of parking, would be visible from their homes.

Steve Evans, a retired architect and the neighborhood’s president, said he initially heard negative feedback, but he wants the neighborhood to “wait and see.”

Lot 90, the parking lot in front of Kansas University's Ambler Student Recreation Fitness Center, is highlighted on this map of the southern portion of KU's campus along Naismith Drive.

Lot 90, the parking lot in front of Kansas University's Ambler Student Recreation Fitness Center, is highlighted on this map of the southern portion of KU's campus along Naismith Drive.

“When you hear about something like this being adjacent to your neighborhood, you think it doesn’t sound good,” Evans said. “I think there’s people making a lot of assumptions now, but we really need to understand what this project is — then we can have some opinions about it.”

On Tuesday, Robert Nugent, administrator of Lawrence Transit System, will ask the City Commission for permission to submit a grant application for the project to the U.S. Department of Transportation. With that, Nugent will need a letter of support signed by Mayor Mike Amyx and a commitment to provide the funding required to match the federal grant.

The grant application is due April 29.

“This is so they can take another look at it and also so we can ask them for a letter of support and a financial commitment for the project,” Nugent said

Current estimates put the transit hub, proposed for KU’s Lot 90, at $20 million. If awarded, a Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) grant would provide 80 percent, or $16 million.

The hub, dubbed an intermodal facility comprising a parking deck, bicycle lockers and office space, would be constructed in partnership with KU. Chancellor Bernadette Gray-Little has given her approval to proceed with the grant application, said Danny Kaiser, associate director of KU Parking and Transit.

If the project were to win a grant, an agreement would be established between the city and KU to provide the $4 million match. In a memo to city leaders, Nugent said Lawrence Transit has more than $4 million in reserve funds that could be used for the match. The funds came from a 0.05 percent sales tax approved by voters in 2008.

According to Nugent’s memo, a bus transfer facility would be located on the first floor, and up to four levels of parking would rise above it.

The facility would be accessible from Schwegler Drive off Naismith Drive, and the project would include road improvements to ease traffic flow at 18th and Naismith.

Besides the Lawrence Transit Center, it would serve KU on Wheels and the K-10 Connector.

Renderings of the center are not yet public. Nugent said he’d like to provide more details to commissioners Tuesday than are currently available, such as the final cost estimates and the structure’s footprint.

The new development, initially proposed for the northeast section of that parking lot, is now being considered for the southeast portion. It’s anticipated to cover less than half of Lot 90, Nugent’s memo states.

If approved by the City Commission on Tuesday, after the grant is submitted, work will continue on environmental and traffic studies and detailed drawings.

Nugent said Tuesday’s vote would not be a final decision on the location.

The City Commission rejected a proposal last year to locate a transit hub at 21st Street and Stewart Avenue, and this new site, too, could still be denied.

“I don’t think their vote will say, ‘This is where it’s going to be and we’re committed to it from now on,’” Nugent said. “It could happen somewhere down the line, the public, or even us, could say, ‘This is not where we want to do it.’ And we could withdraw the proposal for the grant. There’s a lot of public process.”

The public process will continue Wednesday with an open meeting at Fire Station No. 5, 1911 Stewart Ave. On Thursday, the University Place Neighborhood will meet to discuss the project.

University Place is bounded by 19th Street to the south, the KU campus to the north and Arkansas Street to the east. It runs as far west as Edgehill Road. The neighborhood surrounds Ambler Student Recreation Fitness Center, and just to the west of Ambler is Lot 90.

“It’s important for us now is to really, fully understand what this project is and how it’s going to affect the neighborhood,” Evans said. “I think they’re really sincere that they want to hear what we think and involve us in the process. That, to me, is probably the most important thing.”

Comments

Steve Jacob 1 year ago

I always point out the sales tax ends April 1st 2019. And the sales tax is basically .25%

https://www.lawrenceks.org/sales_tax_proposal

Rich Hedges 1 year ago

I didn't realize we had so much money available for frivolous uses. Surely there are better uses than to spend $20 million for a bus stop.

Ken Easthouse 1 year ago

Rich, the city and university would only be required to front $4 million for the project, the other $16 million would come from the Department of Transportation.

I, too, am interested in what the proposed hub would look like to the surrounding neighborhood. I would not want to take a "wait and see" approach, as the approvals are going through right now. If I were Mayor, I'd want the buy-in from the whole Neighborhood Association before agreeing to sign a letter of support.

Also, Commissioner Boley was correct in wanting to ensure there is some level of economic activity around the proposed bus hub. The economic incentive for public transportation comes not from the rider fees, but from those riders travelling specifically to engage in commerce - be it going to work or shopping. If the central hub doesn't have significant economic activity in the immediate area, we're missing an opportunity.

Rich Hedges 1 year ago

Ken, doesn't matter that it is only $4 million from the city (our money), it is still a lot of money. The $16 million is our money also. The proposed hub appears to be for the benefit of the University, anything more than $1 from the city is too much. What economic impact would it have? What economic activity around the area?

There are many things that need attention in Lawrence, this just doesn't seem it would be a wise investment. Sidewalks, streets and many other things are in need of funding. Our city commision has been very free with our checkbook and quite frankly their free spending has benefitted the general population much.

Rich Hedges 1 year ago

What I meat to say was: Our city commision has been very free with our checkbook and quite frankly their free spending HASN'T benefitted the general population much.

Kevin Kelly 1 year ago

I have been asking for my crumbling curb on 19th Terrace to be replaced for YEARS. If they charge people to park in the new parking garage even more people will be parking in your neighborhood where it is FREE. Put it in the Lied Center parking lot.

Chris Anderson 1 year ago

Question: Would the facility contract with inter-city bus services such as Greyhound to be the location for that service?

Carol Bowen 1 year ago

The "city" bus system is losing its identity. There are already many people who assume the bus system belongs to KU. it's ok to combine efforts, but the city needs to do a better job of promoting the bus system to residents other than students.

Shelley Bock 1 year ago

I am for the concept. I've seen it work wonderfully in Europe where all forms of transport come together at a specific spot. Granted, Lawrence doesn't have a "subway" or the population density of these communities, but by having food shops, offices and other vendors, it would heighten interest and focus ridership to a specific location. Then, I would assume that routes would expand outward like spokes on a wheel and do a better job of allowing ridership to get to their destination.

And, yes, I have used the bus. I'd like to leave my car parked more often. With this concept, I'd try to ride more often.

Kevin Kelly 1 year ago

Please explain why those of us in the area (our neighborhood) should welcome food shops, offices, and other vendors. Why should we be in favor of more traffic, noise, parking, buses, etc? What is the benefit to me as a local home owner? It may be great for KU and it's future subway but I haven't heard anything that makes me think this is good for the local streets where people actually reside. In what way will this make my hood better?

Deborah Snyder 1 year ago

Ms. Bock; there is no shopping available at the proposed location. There is no spoke-like transportation plan, as most of these buses must use Naismith to exit campus.

In addition, there are hundreds of students living or parking in the Centennial Neighborhood who walk up the alley between Maine & Missouri to cross 18th & proceed past the highly popular student gym, & there is the new School of Business all competing for the same parking spaces as those who use their gym as attend classes.

That lot is full 4 days/week & did I mention the basketball parking for KU games?? How will heavy tonnage on 18th, a neighborhood side street be affected by dozens of buses?

Richard Quinlan 1 year ago

Call it what it is , the KU Bus System . It does not adequately serve the working areas of town. Take East Hills for example. The earliest you can get there is 6:58 , most factories run two to three shifts. If your shift starts at 7 or before you out. Last run is is around 7 so its not usable for 2nd shifts at all. now there is 20 runs a day out there that are probably half empty or more.

Now why put all this congestion into an area that is already constricted ? You have tons of area over Iowa that is not in an already challenged neighborhood. How will you maintain a schedule when the bus is stuck on 19th for a half hour in the afternoon rush ?

Richard Heckler 1 year ago

Forget any type of retail or office space that is nuts.

How central is this location to all of Lawrence?

Will the upper 4 levels of parking at this hub be RESERVED strictly for the transportation hub?

If so shouldn't all users be required a obtain a sticker or such to prevent this space from being raided? The sticker would be free of course.

How will this hub work best for those who work inner city Lawrence,Kansas?

How will this hub further improve the T?

By all means do absolutely consider neighborhood concerns!

Clara Westphal 1 year ago

This is a very poor location for the citizens of Lawrence.

John Kyle 1 year ago

It's a hub. A central location where passengers can safely transfer buses to get to their destinations whether shopping or work. There is no need to have a hub in a busy shopping area. There will still be buses going downtown and to the shopping areas in town just like they do today. I would guess that most people using the current bus hub downtown are transferring buses and not going downtown to shop. It would be BETTER to not have a hub in a congested shopping area.

Carol Bowen 1 year ago

John, That was my original thought. Then, I looked "transportation hub". The design - at least in Wikipedia - is hub and spoke. The concept is a place for an exchange of transportation modes rather than a location for bus transfers. I've used hubs in large cities without realizing what they are called. Maybe, the city should address this in the comprehensive transportation plan before making a major commitment.

Deborah Snyder 1 year ago

With due respect, neither Schwegler nor 18th can accommodate joco buses. I can all but guarantee the medians will deteriorate at both 18th & Schwegler for buses turning south to exit campus. And again, what about student traffic at and near those intersections?

I also understand the Naismith Ditch is fed by KU underneath Naismith. How will underground infrastructure at KU hold up to such heavy vehicular traffic? And to top everything off, a Traffic Circle is scheduled to replace the traffic light at 19th & Naismith. The joco bus is akin to a 10-wheeler w/o the flexibility. How will this and other buses negotiate this intersection?

Finally, the city is growing, hugely, if plans outside the SLT western leg come true. How is a hub in a finite space on the south side of KU going to accommodate a growing number of buses servicing this (and other) new area(s)?

It is not. appropriate. to tell the public that we must wait for the transportation group in charge of this proposal to develop the plan BEFORE "comments" may be allowed.

Kevin Kelly 1 year ago

Haven't heard about a proposed traffic circle at 19th and Naismith. It will be interesting watching the students try and meld busy pedestrian traffic with a free flowing traffic circle. But, from the information I understand from KU, there are no students parking south of 19th St and walking north anyway?

Deborah Snyder 1 year ago

If Mr. Nugent would be willing to look at the city map, there are two good areas for transportation hubs to accommodate future growth in Lawrence.

The first is at 25th and Iowa Street. This southwest corner site has a brick & mortar building ready for occupancy and a large parking lot for dozens of buses. It has retail nearby & easy access to Iowa.

The second site would be at Bob Billings (west 15th) & Kasold. This southeast corner stands on KU property & thus surely this grant would still apply to an empty field devoid of use or any known future use by KU??!

I am not.an enemy to the need for a hub between KU & the City, including the joco or Greyhound bus lines. But for chrissake, the current proposal creates more problems than solves them, for reasons completely unrelated to your needs!

David Holroyd 1 year ago

Finally a few are thinking how horrible an idea this is. Valuable campus land that could be used later for a building is about to be squandered away.

I am TRULY disappointed that the chancellor would sign off on this but then she agreed to take quasi control of Indiana street parking.

The city commission will endorse this. It takes only three votes.

This idea of a bus hub in a town with a non growing population, a town with no jobs in the near or future is now obsessed with a bus hub.

And for Boley to believe that there needs to be commercial around a bus hub, one has to question his motives. Is he ready to fleece another developer for funds for affordable housing.

Face it! Lawrence has now the bottom of the gene pool coming up with ideas. And when KU is not fully in session in the summer months, the hub is what then?

Chancellor Gray, please if you read any posts or if Shade does, DO NOT endorse this most hair brained idea!

Richard Heckler 1 year ago

I like this thinking ....

"The first is at 25th and Iowa Street. This southwest corner site has a brick & mortar building ready for occupancy and a large parking lot for dozens of buses. It has retail nearby & easy access to Iowa.

The second site would be at Bob Billings (west 15th) & Kasold. This southeast corner stands on KU property & thus surely this grant would still apply to an empty field devoid of use or any known future use by KU??!"

I'm not sure anywhere near campus needs more traffic?????

Richard Heckler 1 year ago

Item 2 Consider authorizing staff to submit a joint City of Lawrence/University of Kansas TIGER Grant application for a multimodal facility to be located in Lot 90 of the KU Campus. Consider authorizing the Mayor sign a letter of support and notice of local funding in an amount not to exceed $4 million, contingent on award of the grant. Staff Memo & Attachments

ACTION: Authorize staff to submit a joint City of Lawrence/University of Kansas TIGER Grant application for a multimodal facility to be located in Lot 90 of the KU Campus. Consider authorizing the Mayor sign a letter of support and notice of local funding in an amount not to exceed $4 million, if appropriate.

http://lawrenceks.org/assets/agendas/cc/2016/04-26-16/04-26-16_cc_agenda.html

Lots of tax dollar spending on this agenda.

industrial revenue bonds

Corporations can borrow money by issuing bonds on their own in the commercial marketplace, in which case they must offer investors the prevailing rate of interest.

When the bonds are issued instead through public entities, the securities become tax-exempt. That means that the investors who buy the bonds do not have to pay federal (and often state) tax on the interest income they receive.

Because of this advantage, tax-exempt bonds typically carry a lower rate of interest. The difference between the interest rate on tax-exempt bonds and the interest rate on commercial corporate bonds constitutes a subsidy to the business.

http://www.goodjobsfirst.org/accountable-development/industrial-revenue-bonds

http://www.kansascity.com/2014/05/04/4998875/leawood-sticks-up-for-taxpayers.html#storylink=cpy

Starting in the late 1960s, Congress began imposing restrictions on the uses of bond proceeds as well as limits on the allowable volume of bonds that could be issued. Today there are two permissible types of tax-exempt IRBs used for corporate subsidies: Small Issue IRBs are restricted to the construction, expansion, or renovation of manufacturing facilities. They are generally limited to $1 million, but under certain circumstances that amount can go up to $10 million.

Exempt Facility IRBs have no size limits, but they can be used only for specific types of projects, such as water and sewer facilities, electricit and natural gas facilities, and certain types of rental housing.

Certain facilities such as stadiums, convention centers, and parking garage that used to be allowed are now excluded.

Monty Scott 1 year ago

This whole thing can be summed up to what is good for KU, is good for the rest of us. Just look at the location of the proposed hub, it will allow for additional parking for Basketball. As we are all aware, this sport is the mother milk of KU athletics.

Once again, this city is being led to the KU feeding troughs. I wonder who is going to build the structure? Could this be RCP part 2?

Kevin Kelly 1 year ago

I wouldn't be surprised to find that the Central District was seeded as a way to speed up post basketball parking lot evacuation as well as a way to charge more people to park for basketball games. What happens when someone needs to get to or from the "hub" on the day there is a basketball game? I wonder what the KU students think about seeing all this money being spent as they themselves grow further into debt?

David Holroyd 1 year ago

Continue the experiment. A hub in a town with a non growing population, a city commission taking orders from the Dutch door office in an alley.

Face it folks, Lawrence is dirty , tired worn out and expensive with not much to return. The best jobs are the city, county, KU, school district and those created within the chamber of commerce for their crony friends unable or unqualified to work elsewhere.

Moocher Elites!

Kevin Kelly 1 year ago

KU got what they wanted, surprise???!! Happy I didn't waste my time at that meeting. Future student money saver: Park at 19th Terr and Ousdahl for free, walk north to your apartment across the shiny new crosswalk at 19th and Ousdahl where you opted out of a parking sticker to save money, proceed to walk to the new hub to use the bus while your car sits in front of my house.

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