City leaders to consider adding funding for key segment of Lawrence Loop

photo by: Rochelle Valverde

Part of the Lawrence Loop trail near the intersection of 12th and Oregon streets is pictured on Monday, July 16, 2018.

The years-long effort to complete the city’s trail system could be getting a boost.

At its meeting Tuesday, the Lawrence City Commission will consider allocating $100,000 in next year’s budget for design of the downtown segment of the Lawrence Loop, with plans for construction to take place in upcoming years. The commission amends the city’s five-year capital improvement plan annually as part of the budget process, and the commission will consider removing funding for two projects and allocating more than $1 million for the construction of the downtown segment and other gaps in the trail over the next few years.

As originally proposed, the 2019 budget did not include any money for the loop, and the only allocation in the five-year capital improvement plan was $600,000 for the downtown segment in 2021. Mayor Stuart Boley said he thought completing the loop was a community priority and that the proposed plan was not in line with that priority.

“We need to put more resources to this and we need to do it sooner than two years down the road, because if that’s all we do we’re not going to be making much progress in the foreseeable future,” Boley said.

Boley and Vice Mayor Lisa Larsen both expressed interest at the commission’s work session last week in providing funding toward completion of the few remaining gaps in the Lawrence Loop. The loop is about 75 percent complete and will eventually provide a continuous 22-mile concrete path around the city with connector trails linking it to neighborhoods.

Once complete, the downtown leg of the trail will connect the Burroughs Creek Trail on 11th Street to Constant Park on Sixth Street. In addition to the downtown segment, other significant gaps are in northwestern Lawrence, between Queens Road and Kasold Drive, and in northern Lawrence, between the trail at Sandra J. Shaw Community Health Park on Maine Street and Peterson Road.

Based on direction from the commission to provide funding for the Lawrence Loop, city staff has compiled the following updates to the 2019 budget and the five-year capital improvement plan, according to a memo to the commission.

· Remove funding for two projects: A $1.5 million event space project at the Indoor Aquatic Center was moved from 2023 to unfunded. A $2 million downtown parking structure project was moved from 2020 to unfunded.

· Add funding for downtown segment: $100,000 for design of the downtown portion of the loop was moved from 2021 to 2019, with construction to take place in 2020 and 2021. The funding source was changed from the general fund to the capital reserve fund. The total cost of construction is estimated at $1.3 million, with $600,000 coming from the capital improvement reserve fund and $700,000 from state grants.

· Add funding for Queens Road segment: $1.2 million for construction of the Queens Road to Kasold Drive portion of the loop was added to 2022 and 2023, with $720,000 coming from the general fund and $480,000 from state grants.

As part of its meeting, the commission will set the maximum amount of expenditures for the 2019 budget, which can later be adjusted downward but not upward. The commission will also formally vote on amendments to the 2018 budget, which will determine what the city will do with a $2.25 million surplus in the city’s general fund. Commissioners last week expressed interest in using $200,000 of the surplus for a housing voucher program for homeless families and putting the remainder in the city’s capital improvement reserve fund, which is used to fund improvements to city facilities and infrastructure.

The city also made adjustments due to Douglas County not allocating funding for its share of four joint county-city projects, according to the memo. Those adjustments result in $2 million of reductions for 2019. The adjustments are as follows:

· Moved $224,000 for repairs to the Community Health Building elevator from 2019 to 2020.

· Moved $400,000 for repairs to the pavement at the Community Health Building from 2019 to 2020.

· Moved the Douglas County portion of $769,200 for pavement replacement at fire and medical stations from 2019 to 2020. The city portion of $2.2 million remains in 2019.

· Moved about $1.8 million for the reconstruction and expansion of 19th Street from Harper Street to O’Connell Road from 2019 to 2021. Waterline repair along the street will still occur before 2021, and $325,000 for design and land acquisition is included in 2019. The overall cost, including the county’s share, remains at about $3.6 million.

The City Commission will convene at 5:45 p.m. Tuesday at City Hall, 6 E. Sixth St.


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