Posts tagged with Lawrence Government

Kansas Relays events coming back to downtown; host of other events on the way as well

Dandelions are the sure sign of spring in some communities. In Lawrence, it is street parties. During the last several years, closing a city street to host an event has grown in popularity. This year will be no exception. City officials are processing a bunch of requests for upcoming events. Here’s a look:

• For the third straight year, the Kansas Relays plans to use downtown Lawrence as a venue for two of its top events. From 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. on Wednesday, April 17 the intersection of Eighth and New Hampshire streets will become the site of the Relays top-flight shot put competition. About 10 world class shot putters are expected to compete. The intersection and the 100 block of East Eighth Street will be closed from 6 a.m. Wednesday to 6 a.m. Thursday while city crews build and then dismantle the shot put venue. As in past years, the 100 block of East Eighth Street also will be an entertainment zone, which will have a special permit from City Hall to allow outdoor beer sales. The shot put event gets rave reviews and draws large crowds. But when you write it down, it does sound a bit odd: The combination of shot putters, a city street and a party. Sounds to me like we have the plot for a hit cable television reality show.

• The following day — from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. April 18 — the relays will be in another part of downtown for its annual top-tier women’s long jump competition. That competition, in the 100 block of West Eighth Street, will close that block from 11 a.m. to midnight. Like the shot put event, there will be an entertainment zone surrounding the competition, including outdoor alcohol sales. Eight to 10 athletes are expected to compete. I haven’t heard yet who that group will include, but it could be particularly exciting. As of last week, KU has the NCAA Indoor National Champion long jumper in Andrea Geubelle.

• Watching an athlete run and jump more than 20 feet in the air seems like an artistic event to me — especially if I can do it while having an adult beverage — but if you are looking for a more traditional art event, one is on the way. The Lawrence Art Guild will host its annual Art in the Park art fair in South Park on May 5. The Sunday event will close Massachusetts Street from North Park Street to South Park Street from 6 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. on May 5.

• This one isn’t in a city street, but it is a rite of spring for those of us who have grease under our fingernails from time to time. The local chapter of the Antique Automobile Club of America on May 3-5 will host its annual swap meet at the Douglas County Fairgrounds. This event is your chance to walk through rows and rows of auto parts and amaze your friends by pointing at items and saying things such as: “Timing belt for a ’49 Ford.” What? You can do that, right? (I certainly can, as long as no one with me knows what a timing belt off a ’49 Ford looks like.)

In case you are keeping track at home, the city is involved with this event just a bit because it is allowing a portion of the former Farmland Industries fertilizer plant to be used as parking for the event. Some readers in the past have asked whether a portion of the Farmland property will be used to permanently expand the adjacent Douglas County Fairgrounds. That was a plan at one point in time. There are maps at City Hall that show a portion of the Farmland property being used for the fairgrounds. But it appears as the project has evolved, that idea has fallen by the wayside. The more recent plans for the property show the spot once set aside for the fairgrounds being used for industrial lots, which is how the bulk of the 400-plus acre property will be used.

This year’s event will be the 50th anniversary for the swap meet.

• If fixed up cars, rather than ones in parts and pieces are more your style, there’s an event for you. On Saturday, Sept. 28, downtown will host the Rev it Up Hot Rod Hullabaloo car show. The Saturday event will close Massachusetts Street from 11th to 13th streets from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m.

If none of those events is quite your style, don’t worry. There will be plenty more. Lawrence provides almost everyone an opportunity to stand in the middle of a street and partake in something.


Mexican restaurant Tapas closes as it loses lease on downtown building; Mexquisito expands into Eudora

The Trail of Margaritas — you may know it is as Massachusetts Street — now has one less waypoint.

Tapas, 724 Massachusetts St., has closed. Its last day in business was Saturday, general manager Dorothy Hopkins told me.

But fret not, all you folks who are worried about becoming dehydrated as you trek through downtown. Hopkins told me the restaurant is working hard to reopen in another location.

Hopkins said business was good at the restaurant, which had been open a little more than a year. But she said its building recently sold. Actually, I think it is under contract to be sold. Regardless, the new owners have other plans, and Tapas lost its lease.

Hopkins said the restaurant is in early discussions for another spot on Massachusetts Street, but it also is considering the Wakarusa Street corridor.

“I know some other restaurants are struggling in downtown, but our business has been excellent,” Hopkins said. “That is what is really sad about having to close.”

The potential move — which Hopkins said will take at least a month — has left the restaurant’s 26 employees in limbo.

As for what may be on tap for Tapas’ old building, I’ve heard another restaurant is the leading contender. I have a call into a person who I believe will be part of the new ownership group. If I hear back, I’ll let you know.


Perhaps there is a rule or something that when one Mexican restaurant goes out of business, another must open.

The folks who have Mexquisito, 712 Massachusetts St., have expanded into Eudora. The new restaurant opened on Friday, occupying a spot near 10th and Locust streets — kind of catty-corner from the Casey’s — in a spot formerly occupied by . . . a Mexican restaurant.

I had occasion to check it out this weekend, and it brings some of the same — what I would call, slightly upscale — Mexican dishes that it serves at Mexquisito in downtown. You’ll have to decide whether my description is accurate. All I know is that when you order salsa, you get both the red and the green type, which provides the answer to a riddle: What do you get when you combine red and green? Another margarita.

Reply 45 comments from Pywacket Roland Gunslinger Pwopellewcap Msezdsit Tomato Easy_does_it David Holroyd Rachelind Crimsonlaugh Eltudobem and 24 others

Former Lawrence country club executive opens up Italian restaurant in Baldwin City

Maybe my blood is running blue these days, but I have more country club news. Last week, we reported on news of management changes at Alvamar Country Club. Today, we have news about what a former local country club executive is up to.

Brent Boyle, who at various times over the last decade has worked as food and beverage director at Lawrence Country Club and also was club manager at Alvamar Country Club, has opened an Italian restaurant in Baldwin City.

Antonucci’s is at 519 Ames Street, which is across the street from the Kwik Shop. (All directions in Baldwin City originate from the Kwik Shop.)

Boyle said the restaurant focuses on classic Italian dishes. The restaurant has a culinary school-trained chef — Tad Ingles — who has prepared a menu that focuses on dishes made from scratch. That includes, homemade meatballs, a peppers and sausage dish that incoporates restaurant-made sausage, and made-from-scratch pizzas.

Boyle, who also owns the Baldwin Diner, said he was looking to create a bit more of a destination style restaurant in Baldwin City.

“I got to looking around and realized there really wasn’t a restaurant to take a date in Baldwin City,” Boyle said. The restaurant held its grand opening in late January, and Boyle said the restaurant is starting to attract Lawrence and Ottawa customers who want to take a bit of an evening drive.

“The new Highway 59 at 70 miles an hour really makes it pretty easy for people to get down here to Baldwin,” Boyle said.

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Alvamar Country Club strikes new management deal, takes itself off the market

There have been some changes at Alvamar Country Club that executives with the business say are designed to solidify its future as a locally owned golf and country club.

On March 1, the club ended its relationship with Billy Casper Golf, a management company that widely was viewed as preparing Alvamar for a sale.

At the beginning of the month, Alvamar brought in a new management team, led by former Alvamar executive Bryan Minnis, and signed an agreement with Leawood-based Orion Management Solutions to help with operations of the 36-hole golf and country club in west Lawrence.

Minnis said that with the change Alvamar no longer is listing the courses and club for sale with brokers and is no longer actively marketing the property.

“We’re going to operate it in a way that we may very well own it for the next 25 years,” Minnis said.

The club is owned by Alvamar Inc., the company founded by the late powerhouse Lawrence developer Bob Billings. The company has about 100 shareholders, including Minnis, who has served on Alvamar’s board. Minnis said that as those shareholders die and leave their shares to heirs, that is not the ideal ownership situation for the club. He said ultimately the ownership situation of the club likely will change, but the new philosophy is to let that process evolve more naturally.

“Alvamar is not for sale, but it could be bought,” Minnis said. “If the right buyer came along, we would have those discussions.”

But Minnis said he hopes the new direction of the club proves that the business isn’t in a holding pattern. Renovations are under way on the Alvamar clubhouse, including a complete remodel of the bar, and a new Bob Billings Banquet Room and a new “fireside lounge” honoring Charlie Oldfather, another of the club’s founders. The club also is examining the feasibility of an expansion that would add a new pool and fitness area.

On the golf course, new white silica sand is being added to the sand traps. (Alvamar has sand traps? I’ve never gotten out of the trees and the ponds.)

Minnis, who once served as Alvamar’s director of golf and sales/marketing before Billy Casper took over about two years ago, said there are no current plans to convert the 18-hole public course over to a fully private facility.

Alvamar has one private course and one public course, and there had been discussion under Billy Casper’s management to convert the public course to a members-only facility. But Minnis said he doesn’t believe that will be necessary until the club reaches about 800 golfing members. Currently, it has about 500 golfing members.

Minnis also confirmed that the company has been approached by developers interested in developing some types of retirement communities near the course. Minnis said Alvamar hasn’t ruled out the idea but isn’t actively pursuing it at the moment.

“The question really is whether it is possible.” Minnis said. “Do we have enough developable land internally, could it be approved, what would the impact be on Alvamar and the surrounding neighborhood? We don’t have plans of initiating anything ourselves, but we know their is interest from some developers in the community.”

In addition to Minnis, the new management team includes several other people who have worked in the area golf industry. They include:

• Eric Magnuson, director of golf, who previously was worked at Moila Shrine Country Club in St. Joseph, Mo., and was an assistant professional at Lawrence Country Club.

• Paul Hooser, director of instruction, who came from Overland Park’s city-owned golf courses.

• Jen Nuessen, dining and event services director, who previously has been with Adams Pointe Golf Club in Blue Springs, Mo., and the Shawnee Country Club in Topeka.

Reply 10 comments from Liberal Bruce Rist K7k10 Keith Richards Massachusettsman Eugehne Normandin Cagiv Vermont

Police to add more utility vehicles to patrol fleet

You’ve probably noticed a couple of SUV police vehicles on the streets.

Well, you will see more of them in the coming months. (Or perhaps you are a terrible driver and don’t notice police vehicles, in which case I predict higher numbers for the city’s ticket totals in 2013.)

City commissioners at their Tuesday meeting are set to set to approve a bid for eight more of the Ford Police Utility Interceptors. Commissioners are set to approve a bid from Shawnee Mission Ford of $25,700 each for the vehicles.

As we reported last month, police officials said the utility vehicles performed very well in the snow storms, and the purchase price of the SUVs is about the same as the more traditional models.

I’m not sure how the SUVs — they are actually fairly small for a utility vehicle — do on fuel mileage compared to the standard police car, but some reviews I’ve read indicate that SUV police vehicles are about 20 percent more fuel-efficient than the old Crown Victoria Police Interceptor vehicles that are still a part of many fleets.

No word yet on what percentage of Lawrence police fleet is expected to be comprised of the SUVs in the future.

Reply 19 comments from Lawrencedad Thesychophant Janet Lowther Purplesage Currahee Cheeseburger Buffalo63 Areunorml Optimist Keith Richards and 4 others

Tickets issued by Lawrence police hit five-year low

You all must have been a bunch of angels in 2012.

There’s a new report out at City Hall, and it shows city police officers in 2012 issued the fewest number of citations — everything from speeding to noise violations — in at least five years

The Municipal Court’s annual report total citation activity checked in at 28,707 citations, down 7.6 percent from the approximately 31,000 tickets issued in 2011. The new totals mark the first time in at least five years that ticket volume has fallen below the 30,000-ticket level. The city’s recent high was 2010, when 39,699 tickets were issued.

One area where you perhaps weren’t so good is feeding that parking meter downtown. The city issued 94,064 parking meter tickets, an increase of about 5 percent from a year ago.

Here are some other facts figures from the recent report:

• Speeding tickets checked in at 2,268, up slightly from the 2,221 issued in 2011. But the city is issuing far fewer speeding tickets than it used to. In 2008, for example, the city issued more than 6,000 speeding tickets. It issued more than 5,000 tickets in 2009 and 2010, and then the totals plummeted.

In past years, city officials have said the decline has been caused in part because there have been several vacant positions in the city’s Police Department, although the past couple of city budgets have included funding to hire additional police officers. Still, Police Chief Tarik Khatib has told city commissioners on multiple occasions that the department still has serious staffing needs, and he says the department is having to shuffle its priorities in order to respond to the number of emergency calls coming into the city’s dispatch center.

I haven’t had a chance to talk to city officials yet about the report, but perhaps that is what is going on here. Or, maybe, everybody is just being so safe and courteous out on the roadways these days.

• Tickets for operating under the influence of alcohol hit a five-year low at 394. That’s down from the recent high of 798 in 2010. Minor-in-possession tickets also declined to 341, which is below the five-year average of about 375 tickets.

• Noise violations hit a new low at 176 tickets, down from the five-year high of 286 in 2008. I went a bit further back on this one to see how it compared to the days when the issue of party houses was a major topic of discussion at City Hall. The numbers are way off from that time. In 2006, for example, the city issued 449 noise violations.

• Apparently, even the animals are being better behaved. Cases for animals at-large (insert your own college student joke here) fell to a new five-year low at 303. That’s down from a five-year high of 513 in 2010.

• I don’t have past years to compare this with, but I found it interesting nonetheless: The number of downtown parkers who received a special habitual violator ticket — in other words, they had five or more parking meter violations within a 30-day period — was 1,502.

• The top traffic-related offenses in 2012 were: — Speeding: 2,268 — Seat belt violation: 1,684 — No proof of insurance: 1,617 — Stop sign violation: 754 — Driving while suspended: 701

• The top public-offense-related violations in 2012 were: — Theft: 394 — Minor in possession: 341 — Animal at large: 260 — Disorderly conduct: 212 — Battery: 208 — Criminal trespass: 208

I know some of the numbers above don’t match the ticket numbers reported earlier in the article. I believe the difference is that these are offense numbers and the others are ticket numbers. In other words, I think these numbers only reflect those cases that have been closed.

• The last statistic from the report is the one the budget-makers care about. Declining ticket volume did produce a decline in city revenue. Total revenue collected by the court was down 7 percent from a year ago, to $3.58 million.

Reply 23 comments from Sue Grosdidier Thinking_out_loud Liberty275 Buckjennings James Minor Repaste Hoots Bluefirebird Number_1_grandma Jhawkinsf and 5 others

Home sales up in January; new numbers on county’s property tax base; median home values fall sharply in Baldwin, Eudora, rural areas; weekly land transfers

The signs of spring are starting to show up: morning sunlight and chirping birds, an article in the newspaper about crabgrass prevention, and me looking for my hidey-hole when my wife starts talking about the spring cleaning of the garage.

Of course, one other sign of spring soon will be the banners, balloons, pyrotechnic displays and whatever else real estate agents are using these days to attract attention to the large number of spring open houses. So, with that, how about some real estate news today? There are a few new reports of interest out.

• Lawrence home sales in January continued to show signs of improvement. A new report from the Lawrence Board of Realtors found home sales in January were up 44 percent compared to January 2012, rising to 36 from 25. It continues a multimonth streak of sales increases on a year-over-year basis, which has given real estate professionals cautious optimism that a recovery is starting to take hold in Lawrence.

One of the more interesting numbers in the report is that there has been a significant decline in the number of homes on the market, which real estate agents say is a sign the market is starting to get more balanced between buyers and sellers. In January, there were 380 homes on the market, down from 460 during the same period a year ago.

The number of days a home is sitting on the market, though, hasn’t yet started to show that trend. The median days on market: 81, up from 72 a year ago.

• The Douglas County Appraiser’s office has new information out about the county’s real estate tax base. It appears Douglas County and the city of Lawrence once will again will avoid a major hit to their property tax bases.

The numbers aren’t final yet because property owners can still file appeals related to their properties’ assessed values, but the appraiser’s office shows a decline of 0.29 percent for 2013. The total assessed valuation — remember, assessed value is the taxable value, not the market value — checks in at $1.024 billion in 2013, down from $1.027 billion in 2012.

The county is not used to declines but it has avoided the 5 percent or more declines in values that many other markets across the country have experienced.

Just for some historical perspective, I looked up some past numbers. Since 2008, the county’s tax base has grown just 1.3 percent during the tough economic times. Since 2003, the county’s tax base has grown 36.7 percent. To put an even finer point on how the last decade has been a tale of two halves, the numbers show that in the last half of the decade, the county’s tax base has grown by less than 2 percent total. For the first half of the decade, the numbers show that from 2003 to 2008, the tax base grew by 35.8 percent. In case you are wondering, the rate of inflation for that time period was about 17 percent, according to the Consumer Price Index.

The housing bubble was fun for governments who rely on property tax dollars. Now, the question they’re all still trying to figure out: What is the new normal?

• The appraiser’s office hasn’t provided a report that shows the assessed valuation by community yet, but normally Lawrence tracks closely with the overall county total — since Lawrence has most of the county’s tax base within its boundaries.

But there may be real questions about what happens to the tax base in some of the smaller communities and townships in Douglas County.

The appraiser’s office has put together a report estimating the median market values for residential property in each city in the county. The report shows significant drops everywhere but Lawrence. The median value in Lawrence in 2013 is $159,625, down 0.6 percent from the median of 2012.

That’s nothing compared with what the report shows for the other areas of Douglas County. Here’s a look:

• Eudora: the median market value has dropped 10.2 percent to $125,600, down from $140,000.

• Baldwin City: Down 7.4 percent to $132,700 from $143,400.

• Lecompton: Down 16.6 percent to $83,950 from $100,670

• Rural Douglas County: Down 22.8 percent to $153,400 from $198,805.

I haven’t had a chance to talk to the appraiser yet about these numbers, but it seems to indicate the real estate market outside of Lawrence hasn’t held up as well as the market inside of Lawrence.

• Finally, I have fallen behind on our weekly updates of land transfers and property sales as recorded by the Douglas County Register of Deeds. Click here to see listings for the last couple of weeks.

Reply 10 comments from Caz Snwot Chicago95 Gccs14r David Holroyd Steveguy George Lippencott Neworleans Richard07 Laura Wilson

Ross department store set to open this week in Lawrence

Lawrence’s latest retail chain store is about to make its debut.

Officials with Ross Dress for Less have confirmed that they will hold their grand opening celebration at 9 a.m. on Saturday. The store is going into the location at 3234 Iowa Street that previously was occupied by Old Navy. In other words, it will be in the building right next to Kohl’s department store near 33rd and Iowa.

It looks to me, though, that shoppers will get their first chance at the new retailer on Friday. I drove by the location yesterday. (I bought a $4 tie at Kohl’s after a Sertoma club luncheon created a battle between some pasta salad and the tie I wore to the event. The pasta salad won.) There was a sign on the Ross building that said the store was opening Friday.

I never have been successful in actually talking with a Ross official on the phone, so I don’t know much about why the retailer chose to come to the Lawrence market or why it took it almost a year to open the store once it filed its plans with City Hall.

But they are here now, and according to a release from the company, this will be its third new store in the “Kansas City area” since October 2012. It is opening 20 other stores, in addition to the Lawrence store, this week. Overall, the company has about 1,000 stores across the country, and it bills itself as the “nation’s largest off-price apparel and home fashion chain.”

I don’t know exactly what that means, other than I can probably expect to see a new addition to my monthly credit card bill. But according to the company’s Web site, it carries a large line of women’s clothing, in addition to some clothing or men and children, plus some shoes, accessories and home decor items.

We’ll see whether it carries $4 ties because I’m pretty sure my battles with pasta salad aren’t done. Or with BBQ sauce or with grape jelly or with chocolate pudding or with . . .

Reply 8 comments from Fred Whitehead Jr. Bearded_gnome Mike Edson Chad Lawhorn Catalano Naturephile

City’s Public Incentives Review Committee to consider Rock Chalk Park property tax abatement today; member raises questions about city’s analysis

The proposed Rock Chalk Park sports village in northwest Lawrence will create all types of exercises. Today, it will be a math exercise.

The city’s Public Incentives Review Committee will meet at 4 p.m. today to consider making a recommendation on a request for $40 million in industrial revenue bonds for the KU facilities that will be at Rock Chalk Park. The $40 million in IRBs come with a 10-year, 100 percent property tax abatement for the project.

It appears today’s meeting of the Public Incentives Review Committee won’t be without questions. Former City Commissioner Rob Chestnut, who also is a candidate for City Commission in this year’s race, is a member of PIRC. His full-time job is as a chief financial officer for a Topeka-based company, and he was appointed to PIRC to fill the position reserved for a financial analyst.

He seems to be taking that job seriously because he has put together a memo questioning whether the city’s financial analysis of the project is accurate. In short, Chestnut raises questions about whether the amount of incentives the city will be providing to the project will be greater than what it will receive in return.

“I believe the city could lose money on the proposed project,” Chestnut writes in his memo.

That runs counter to what the city’s financial analysis has shown. The city has run a “cost-benefit analysis” that shows for every $1 in incentives offered to the project that it will receive $1.62 back in benefits. That’s important because the city has an economic development policy that says projects receiving tax abatements should have a cost-benefit ratio of at least 1 to 1.25.

But Chestnut makes two major points about the city’s analysis:

• The city’s analysis assumes the $50 million project will start paying property taxes after the 10-year tax abatement has expired. But that does not appear to be the plan in reality. I’ve heard from multiple people that the developers of the project — Thomas Fritzel’s Bliss Foundation, and various KU entities — believe the project should receive the automatic property tax exemption Kansas University receives for its property. The state has not granted that exemption because the facilities will be owned by Bliss — a private, for-profit company — rather than KU. I believe the plan is to use the next 10 years to win such an exemption from Kansas lawmakers.

According to Chestnut’s memo, the city’s model assumes property tax payments in years 11 through 15, and counts them as a benefit that will be received by the city. With those property tax payments, the city’s cost benefit ratio reaches the $1.62 in benefits for every $1 in incentives. Without the property tax payments, though, Chestnut says the project falls into negative territory. His calculation is that the project receives 98 cents in benefits for every $1 in incentives.

• The city’s analysis doesn’t count one item that could feasibly be considered an incentive to the project: the amount of infrastructure the city will pay for Rock Chalk Park.

How much money the city will pay in infrastructure costs for the project isn’t yet known, but it very easily could be several million dollars. The amount the city will pay in infrastructure costs will be determined by how much the city pays to build its recreation center building. The city will pay $25 million for its share of the Rock Chalk Park project, which includes the recreation center building. If the bid for the recreation center building comes in at $22 million, the city’s current estimate, it will pay $3 million in infrastructure costs. Some of that infrastructure is expected to serve both the recreation center and the KU portion of Rock Chalk Park.

But for the purposes of the cost-benefit analysis, the city did not input any infrastructure number into the model. Chestnut notes that if the city even included just $1 million of infrastructure costs in the cost-benefit model, it would create a significant reduction in the city’s cost-benefit ratio.

It will be interesting to see how the PIRC meeting goes today. The committee has some members who are known for asking tough questions. In addition to Chestnut, former City Commissioner Boog Highberger also is on the committee.

Much of this discussion probably hinges on how people view the nature of the project. Most of the city commissioners I have talked to have viewed this property tax abatement issue as more of a technicality than anything else.

They’ve noted that if KU Athletics owned the facilities, rather than leased them, the property automatically would be property tax exempt.

But in recent weeks, new questions have arisen about how much Fritzel’s Bliss Foundation will be able to use the facilities as a privately run, for-profit events venue. The agreements between Bliss and the various KU entities seem to give Bliss much leeway in hosting events at the facilities.

It has been unclear how many and what type of non-KU events Bliss may seek to host at the facility. When I asked KU Athletics about it last week, the response was that the issue was still a matter of “ongoing discussion.”

Another issue to keep in mind is that the model the city uses may not be the best for capturing all the possible benefits of the proposed Rock Chalk Park.

The city’s model seems to be pretty heavily weighted toward measuring how many new jobs will be created by a project. That number has been uncertain with this project. The original application for the IRBs used a jobs figure of two jobs for the project. Then Bliss filed an amended application that says the project will involve 17 jobs. I’m not up to speed on what led to the difference.

But the main economic development part of this project long has been considered to be the amount of visitor spending it can attract to the community. I’m not sure how much the city’s traditional model accounts for that type of benefit.

Plus, supporters of the project would argue an immeasurable benefit is what this project does for Kansas University. It can help with recruitment, it can free up funding to do other improvements — such as at Memorial Stadium or Allen Fieldhouse — and it possibly can solidify KU’s position as a member in good standing with the Big 12 Conference.

Those benefits are hard to measure in any type of model.

So, we’ll see how it goes at this afternoon’s meeting. Ultimately, the PIRC recommendation will only matter so much. The City Commission still makes the final decision on the IRB request.

Commissioners are scheduled to vote on that IRB request just hours after the PIRC meeting. City Commissioners meet at 6:35 tonight at City Hall.

Reply 46 comments from Jhawk1998 Jafs Richard Heckler Repaste Catalano Rob Chestnut Stanley Rasmussen David Holroyd Jhawkinsf Steve Jacob and 20 others

Farmers’ Market struggling to find downtown home for Tuesday market

If you are a gardener, you know finding the right location for your garden is critical, and sometimes it's a bit difficult. Well, it appears that can be the case for finding the right location for your farmers’ market too.

The Downtown Lawrence Farmers' Market will be back for a second week at Lawrence City Hall, seeking a location for its Tuesday Farmers' Market. But finding a spot for the market is turning into as much of a chore as teaching my wife how to run the rototiller.

The market wants to move its Tuesday market — in case you missed it last week, the market has decided to discontinue its Thursday market — into the city-owned parking lot in the 800 block of New Hampshire Street. That parking lot is the home of the very popular Saturday Farmers’ Market.

But commissioners have balked at that idea. Commissioners have heard from some businesses in the area that the weekday market may take too many valuable parking spots on a Tuesday afternoon. In fact, the board for Downtown Lawrence Inc. now has sent a letter asking commissioners to reject the proposed Tuesday location.

Mayor Bob Schumm has tried to broker a deal for the Farmers’ Market to go into a little-used private parking lot that is near the requested city lot.

US Bank owns a small lot on the northwest corner of Ninth and Rhode Island streets that is sparsely used. City officials have checked and US Bank has an interest in allowing the lot to be used as a Farmers’ Market location. In fact, bank executives have expressed some genuine enthusiasm about the idea.

But that doesn’t appear to be the case with leaders of the Farmers’ Market. Avery Lominska, a board member for the market and a vendor at the Tuesday market, said it is critical for the weekday and Saturday markets to be in the same location. Otherwise, marketing the events becomes too burdensome.

“It is close to the location, but it is not the same location,” Lominska said.

Plus, Lominska said, the weekday market once was located on private property in west Lawrence, and they found that relationship to be more difficult than dealing with a public entity like the city.

Lominska is proposing that the city ask US Bank to open up its lot to public parking on Tuesday so that the downtown won’t lose any public parking spaces when the Farmers’ Market is in operation.

I’m not sure how well that idea will go over at City Hall. Commissioners will discuss the subject at their 6:35 p.m. meeting tonight at City Hall. I’ll report back when I learn of the location for the Tuesday Farmers’ Market.

In the meantime, I’m going to try to come up with a more simplified rototiller lesson.

Reply 22 comments from Gravytrainbandit Kartarsh Adrienne Sanders Bearded_gnome Thinking_out_loud Catalano George_braziller Toe Gatekeeper Jhawkinsf and 10 others