After rejecting $320,000 design for East Ninth Street, city set to spend more money for new plans

The City of Lawrence has budgeted more than million for 2018 to reconstruct several blocks of East Ninth Street.

After the original design was rejected, additional funding to create a new design for the reconstruction of East Ninth Street is set to move forward.

As part of its consent agenda Tuesday, the Lawrence City Commission is scheduled to authorize a $170,000 design agreement with Bartlett & West Engineers for the reconstruction of a segment of East Ninth Street.

The design will be the second for East Ninth Street, following a $320,000 design concept that was completed last year by el dorado inc. That 81-page comprehensive concept design integrated artistic elements such as light and sound displays, natural rock seating, and stormwater management that used native grass and stone.

After years of debate and public review, the commission voted unanimously in June to forego el dorado’s design for a traditional street reconstruction project.

“El dorado fulfilled their contract and so we have their design plan in hand,” said Porter Arneill, the city’s director of arts and culture. “They’ve been paid for that so the city owns that design.”

Work on what was referred to as the “arts corridor” began in 2014 when the Lawrence Arts Center won a $500,000 ArtPlace America grant to fund the integration of public art along the roadway, which connects downtown to the arts district in East Lawrence. Of the $320,000 design cost, $50,000 was paid for by grant funds.

The cost estimate for the original project — which was from New Hampshire to Delaware Street — was about $3.8 million. The traditional design, no art included, is estimated to cost $2.5 million and will reconstruct East Ninth Street from New Hampshire to Pennsylvania Street.

The new street design from Bartlett & West would include reconstruction of the street, storm sewers, sidewalks and on-street parking, as well as pedestrian lighting, street trees and retaining walls, according to a city staff memo to the commission. Six-foot sidewalks would be constructed on both sides of the street but there would be no bike lanes. The design also does not include underground electrical or decorative street lighting poles at intersections.

Though the commission decided against el dorado’s design, the ArtPlace grant funds are still available to add artwork to the basic street reconstruction project. The Arts Center still has $335,000 remaining from the grant, and together with the city has submitted a proposal to ArtPlace that lays out a broad framework for the project.

The proposal states the grant will support Lawrence artists in developing and creating public art, which Arneill said could include the same artists as the el dorado design concept. The grant must be spent by June 2020, and Arneill said requests for qualifications, artist selection and art designs will go through an approval process with public feedback.

Though Arneill said the opportunity to do integrated work is more limited with the new street design, it is not necessarily out of the question.

“My hope is we find a range of artists coming up with different concepts and ideas which may lead to physical interactions in the environment but also ephemeral,” Arneill said.

In addition to considering authorization of the new design agreement, commissioners Tuesday will receive the update on the ArtsPlace grant funds and authorize the issuance of $2.5 million in bonds for the project. Funding for the project was approved as part of the city’s 2018 budget process.

A public meeting will be held when the new design plans are 50 percent complete to discuss the construction schedule and impacts with the neighbors and adjacent property owners, according to the memo.

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

Correction: A previous version of this article misstated the parameters of the original project design, which was from New Hampshire to Delaware Street.