WRITER: Rochelle Valverde

Lawrence City Commission to consider permit required for water tower replacement; neighbors have filed protest petition

City leaders will soon consider approving a permit that will allow for the city to replace a water tower in a city park, a project that some neighbors oppose. As part of its meeting Tuesday, the Lawrence City Commission will consider approving a special use permit for an approximately $3.8 million project to demolish the existing Stratford water tower and construct a new tower. The water tower is in Water ...

Brad Finkeldei

Amid difficulties of the pandemic, incoming mayor wants the city 'to look out for everyone in the community'

Over the past 20 years, City Commissioner Brad Finkeldei has played big roles in plenty of local organizations: social service nonprofits, the chamber of commerce, the planning commission and more. And this week, if tradition holds, he'll add a new role to that list: mayor of Lawrence. Because Finkeldei was the top vote winner in the most recent City Commission election and is the current vice mayor, it is ...

Sewage testing for coronavirus infections in Lawrence helps health officials prepare for surges

A study that tests for parts of the coronavirus in sewage has helped give public health workers advance notice of virus surges, and officials say this kind of testing could eventually help them direct resources to the places that need them the most. As part of a study contracted through the University of Kansas School of Engineering, the City of Lawrence has been taking weekly sewage samples at both of its ...

Lawrence solar energy company to again give away solar energy system to local nonprofit

A holiday gift that isn’t coal is always welcome, and for the Good family, giving one that replaces coal is even better. Local solar energy company Good Energy Solutions, 641 E. 22nd St., plans to again give a local nonprofit organization a free solar energy system during the holiday season. Shana Good, who runs the company with her husband, Kevin, said the giveaway is their way to make a difference, ...

Lawrence approaches peak of emerald ash borer infestation; hundreds of trees have had to be removed

Five years after the invasive emerald ash borer was detected in Douglas County, the spread of the destructive insect appears to be approaching its peak — it's led to the removal of close to 150 ash trees so far this year and around 800 since it first arrived. The insect, a type of beetle originally from Asia, was first detected in Douglas County in September 2015. City of Lawrence Horticulture and Forestry ...

City and other partners working to assist homeless people who are camping on Lawrence Public Library's lawn

Leaders from the city and the Lawrence Public Library say they are working to assist the homeless people who have been camping outside the library in recent months. Since the library closed in March because of the coronavirus pandemic, homeless people have regularly been using the seating area and lawn next to the library as a place to sleep overnight and gather during the day. The library has since reopened ...

Lawrence City Hall, 6 E. Sixth St., is pictured Thursday, July 7, 2016.

Consultants: If Lawrence doesn't diversify its economy, it could become unaffordable for many people

If Lawrence doesn't attract more kinds of businesses, it could become a bedroom community that's not affordable for people who don't commute elsewhere, according to an economic analysis that city leaders recently commissioned. In June, the city hired the economic consulting firm Ernst & Young to help create the city’s first economic development strategic plan. The consultants and the city recently ...

Lawrence's 2019 residential lot inventory shows slight decrease in availability

The city’s annual count of the number of available residential lots in Lawrence has decreased slightly compared to the previous year, which some say does not bode well for the city’s effort to create more affordable housing. According to the city’s 2019 residential lot inventory, there was a 19.5% decrease in residential lot supply and a 15% decrease in demand for residential lots. Factoring in both of ...

City moves forward with $325,000 public art project for police headquarters and adjoining park

A $325,000 public art project for the city’s new police headquarters is moving forward, and the selected artist says he sees the project as an opportunity to build an interactive piece that helps build connections within the community. Lawrence City Commissioners approved an agreement with the artist as part of its meeting this week, and the first public meeting to develop the concept design for the project ...

Adjusting to pandemic, downtown to have virtual holiday lighting event and more safe shopping options

Though the community will not gather to watch firefighters rescue Santa Claus from the roof of Weaver’s Department Store or count down for the illumination of the downtown holiday lights, city leaders say visiting downtown for the holidays is more important than ever this year. Mayor Jennifer Ananda made a proclamation as part of the City Commission meeting Tuesday encouraging the community to support small ...

Lawrence City Commission votes to increase fees charged to Black Hills Energy; more discussion to come

Lawrence leaders have voted to increase some of the fees the city charges a natural gas provider to use city property, and more discussions about both fees and environmental sustainability goals will occur in the next year. As part of its meeting Tuesday, the Lawrence City Commission voted unanimously to adopt fee changes in the city’s franchise agreement with Black Hills Energy. The changes bring the ...

Lawrence City Hall, 6 E. Sixth St., is pictured Thursday, July 7, 2016.

Lawrence City Commission to consider increasing fees charged to Black Hills Energy to use public property

Lawrence leaders will soon consider increasing some of the fees the city charges a natural gas provider to use city property, potentially affecting the rates the company charges its Lawrence customers. As part of its meeting Tuesday, the Lawrence City Commission will consider adopting fee changes in the city’s franchise agreement with Black Hills Energy. Under its current agreement with the city, Black Hills ...

Surge in coronavirus cases causing delay in test results and contact tracing; health officials say more staff could be added to help

The recent surge in coronavirus cases in Douglas County is slowing down contact tracing and could also be delaying efforts to notify people that they should quarantine, but public health leaders say these efforts are still helping to mitigate the spread of the disease. Lawrence-Douglas County Public Health Informatics Director Sonia Jordan said that because of the recent surge in cases, public health workers ...

Lawrence City Commission to consider adopting process for investigating potential ethics violations

The Lawrence City Commission will soon decide on procedures for investigating potential ethics violations by its members and other city positions. As part of its meeting Tuesday, the Lawrence City Commission will consider a resolution that establishes procedures for investigating alleged violations of the city’s ethics and professional conduct policy, according to a city staff memo to the commission. ...

Lawrence Community Police Review Board moves forward with ordinance to strengthen oversight of complaints, plans to seek community input

The Lawrence Community Police Review Board is wrapping up its process of drafting an ordinance to strengthen oversight of complaints against police and preparing to begin a public input process regarding the proposed changes. As part of its meeting Thursday, the board voted unanimously to change or clarify several sections in the draft ordinance and is now scheduled to vote on advancing the draft for public ...

Groups propose that historic limestone barn owned by the city become community history center

Several organizations are proposing that the City of Lawrence turn a historic limestone barn that once served as a station on the Underground Railroad into a community history center. The proposal was provided to the City Commission as part of its meeting Tuesday evening and later shared with the Journal-World. Five local organizations are backing the creation of the center, which would serve as an archival ...

Lawrence City Commission approves tax incentives for new headquarters of locally based construction firm

City leaders have approved a sales tax break for a renovation and construction project for the headquarters of a locally based construction company. As part of its meeting Tuesday, the Lawrence City Commission voted 4-0, with Commissioner Stuart Boley absent, to approve a request from Banks Street LLC for an industrial revenue bond sales tax exemption for a two-phase renovation and construction project at the ...

Lawrence City Commission to consider tax incentives for new headquarters of locally based construction firm

City leaders will soon consider a sales tax break for a renovation and construction project for the headquarters of a locally based construction company. As part of its meeting Tuesday, the Lawrence City Commission will consider a request from Banks Street LLC for an industrial revenue bond sales tax exemption for a two-phase renovation and construction project for buildings that will house the headquarters of ...

Growing up in inner-city Detroit, Lawrence's first director of equity and inclusion started on his path with one simple question

The racial inequities that many in the U.S. seek to remedy first confronted Farris Muhammad when he was a child growing up on the east side of Detroit. Even though he lived in a Black neighborhood, Muhammad said that as early as 5 years old he started to notice that the people in charge in his community, be it a shop owner, police officer, judge or social worker, tended not to look like him. And from those ...

Police cannot point to a reason for significant drop in traffic enforcement; inconsistencies in data add to confusion

Lawrence Police Department representatives say they do not know what caused a dramatic drop in the number of traffic citations issued by officers over the past decade. Though several significant developments in policing did occur around the same time as the initial decline in the number of traffic citations issued, the only factor that police department representatives identified were likely changes in how the ...