WRITER: Rochelle Valverde

Incoming city manager faced tough situations in Clayton, other roles in the region

As incoming city manager Craig Owens gave a driving tour of Clayton, Mo., he was sure also to drive outside Clayton’s bounds to a place starkly different from the city he has managed since 2008. Just outside the affluence of Clayton, an invisible line is crossed and the landscape changes: the homes are still brick but they are much smaller, closer together, some in need of repair. Here, the school district ...

From high-rise cityscape to Lawrence: incoming city manager brings development experience to new role

The world incoming city manager Craig Owens departs is a very different one from what awaits him in Lawrence. The approximately 2.5-square-mile city of Clayton, Mo., where Owens has been the city manager since 2008, has been booming by many accounts. The city has about 16,000 residents and brings twice that number of people into the city for work. On a recent weekday morning, people with briefcases in hand ...

City asks judge to dismiss homeowner's lawsuit related to 23rd Street construction project

The City of Lawrence is asking a judge to dismiss a lawsuit related to the ongoing project to widen a portion of 23rd Street, in which a homeowner is disputing the city’s determination of a property line and payment for an easement. In its motion, the city states that the 3-foot-wide strip of disputed land is incorporated into the plans for the 23rd Street construction project and that the city has deposited ...

City seeking resident input on issues facing downtown as part of expanded master plan process

The city will soon hold two community meetings on the future of downtown Lawrence and is providing resources for neighborhoods and other local groups to hold their own meetings to gather additional input. The city is asking what priorities and concerns residents have for downtown, and the input will help inform the development of the city’s downtown master plan, which has not been updated in 20 years. The ...

City to consider exceptions for sexual assault intervention training for businesses that serve alcohol

City leaders will consider creating exceptions to a proposed ordinance that would require managers at businesses that serve alcohol to undergo sexual violence intervention training. As part of its meeting Tuesday, the Lawrence City Commission deferred adopting an ordinance requiring the training for on-site managers as a condition of drinking establishment licenses, which are required for bars, restaurants and ...

City commissioners concerned by proposal to charge entry fees at recreation centers

City leaders expressed concern about charging entry fees for the city’s recreation facilities, and officials said they would have to weigh such changes against other options to balance the budget as part of the upcoming 2020 budget process. At the Lawrence City Commission’s meeting Tuesday, Lawrence Parks and Recreation Department Director Derek Rogers told the commission the slower-than-anticipated sales ...

City of Lawrence proposes entry fees for recreation and community centers

Some Lawrence residents could soon have to pay as much as $48 per year to use the city’s recreation centers, which are currently free and provide access to cardio equipment, weights, basketball courts and other activities. As part of its meeting Tuesday, the Lawrence City Commission will review a proposal to begin charging entry fees at the Prairie Park Nature Center and the city’s four recreation centers: ...

Lawrence City Commission to consider requiring sexual assault intervention training for some staff at local bars

City leaders will soon consider requiring certain bar and restaurant staff to undergo sexual violence intervention training in order to get their local liquor licenses. As part of its meeting Tuesday, the Lawrence City Commission will consider adopting an ordinance requiring the training for on-site managers as a condition of drinking establishment licenses. In February, commissioners asked city staff to draft ...

City proposes cutting some projects amid slowdown in sales tax collections

The City of Lawrence is collecting less in sales taxes than anticipated, and city officials are now projecting that the city will not have money for some of the projects it previously planned to complete in the next five years. At its work session Tuesday, the Lawrence City Commission reviewed the city’s draft 2020-2024 Capital Improvement Plan. The plan includes about $62 million in projects and purchases ...

Lawrence City Commission interested in overhaul of permitting process for certain Airbnb rentals

Lawrence city commissioners indicated Tuesday that they are interested in making significant changes to the way the city handles certain Airbnb properties and other short-term rentals. As part of its work session Tuesday, the commission discussed replacing the recently established permitting process for whole-home short-term rentals, where the property owner lives elsewhere. As currently set up, the permits ...

Lawrence City Commission to discuss changes to Airbnb permits, including possibly banning some from neighborhoods

Lawrence city commissioners will soon consider whether to walk back the city’s new regulations for Airbnb rentals and potentially ban certain rentals from neighborhoods. As part of its meeting Tuesday, the commission will discuss amending the recently established permitting process for whole-home short-term rentals, where the property owner lives elsewhere. Currently, about 30 property owners have applied for ...

Lawrence City Commission candidate withdraws from race; primary election not required now

Dustin Stumblingbear has withdrawn his candidacy for the Lawrence City Commission. Stumblingbear’s exit from the race means that a primary election is not currently required unless another candidate files to run in the next few weeks. The seats of commissioners Stuart Boley, Leslie Soden and Matthew Herbert are up for reelection this year, and both Soden and Herbert have announced they will not seek ...

Lawrence City Commission to review potential savings of declined wind energy agreement

After not accepting a potential wind energy agreement last year, city leaders will look more closely at how much money the city might save by switching to wind energy. As part of its work session Tuesday, the Lawrence City Commission will review a cost-benefit analysis of a wind energy agreement that Westar Energy previously offered the city and the city was criticized for not accepting. The consultants, Black ...

KDOT narrowing down options for South Lawrence Trafficway expansion, will study 4- and 6-lane freeway designs

The Kansas Department of Transportation is narrowing down its study of potential options for the expansion of the South Lawrence Trafficway. KDOT began its three-year environmental impact study on the lane expansion project in September, and the project team presented six initial options for the project to the Lawrence City Commission last month. KDOT engineer Aaron Frits told the Journal-World last week that ...

Lawrence planning $62 million in projects for next year, including bus hub and new operations center

Projects the city is planning for next year include a new multi-department operations headquarters, a segment of the Lawrence Loop trail and a bus-transfer hub. At its work session Tuesday, the Lawrence City Commission will review and provide input on the city’s draft 2020-2024 Capital Improvement Plan. The plan includes about $62 million in projects and purchases for next year, which will be finalized as ...

Commissioner Matthew Herbert announces he will not seek reelection

Commissioner Matthew Herbert will not seek reelection, opening up the Lawrence City Commission to have at least two newcomers next year. Herbert, who has a 7-year-old daughter, said his decision was mainly family-oriented. He said part of his consideration had to do with his recent career change to working full-time as a property manager, which he said has brought odd and unpredictable hours. “My new ...

Lawrence City Commission to consider future site of bus-transfer hub

After years of debate, city leaders will soon consider selecting a site on Bob Billings Parkway for the location of a future bus-transfer hub. As part of its meeting Tuesday, the Lawrence City Commission will consider selecting the area along the south side of Bob Billings Parkway, between Crestline Drive and Iowa Street, as the final site for the Lawrence Transit Transfer Hub. The site would potentially serve ...

Lawrence City Commission to consider controversial downtown apartment project

City leaders will soon consider controversial plans to build a five-story apartment and retail building near the southern entrance of downtown Lawrence. The Hub at Lawrence would stretch the width of the block between Massachusetts and New Hampshire streets and include more than 550 bedrooms targeted to college students. Due primarily to the main building’s height and size, the city’s historic preservation ...

Local dogs to showcase disc-catching skills at South Park; volunteer judges needed

Local dogs can soon display their disc-catching skills for the public at South Park as part of the Skyhoundz Local Championship. The Lawrence Parks and Recreation Department is hosting the annual event May 11, and it will be free for spectators and dog-owner teams wishing to compete, according to a news release from the city. Dogs of all types and abilities may take part, including novice and veteran ...

Neighborhood leader and community board member Courtney Shipley files for City Commission; primary election now required

Neighborhood leader and community board member Courtney Shipley has filed for election to the Lawrence City Commission. Her entry into the race as the seventh candidate to file for three seats will trigger an August primary election. Shipley, who is chair of the Lawrence Association of Neighborhoods, said that there are long-term plans in the works that require careful implementation, but that most immediately ...