Lawrence City Commission to consider hiring consultant for project that would build road along dog park
photo by: City of Lawrence
A controversial proposal to extend a road near the Mutt Run Off-Leash Dog Park may soon get a new round of discussion at Lawrence City Hall.
City leaders will soon consider a revised proposal to hire an outside consultant to guide a community discussion of the city street project, which has drawn strong opposition from several users of the dog park.
As part of its meeting Tuesday, the Lawrence City Commission will consider authorizing a $38,960 contract with JEO Consulting Group for community engagement services and preliminary design of the road extension. The consultant will conduct three virtual public meetings and come up with two alternative designs for the project, which will be used to inform the commission’s decision on whether and how the project will move forward.
The project would install an approximately 1-mile paved roadway connecting existing segments of West 27th Street on both the east and west sides of the Clinton Lake spillway, creating a continuous roadway from the Kansas Highway 10 and 27th Street intersection to East 902 Road at the dog park. A group of dog park users have objected to the project and hiring the consultant because they say the road extension would disrupt the open space and safety of the park and may not be necessary since the Kansas Department of Transportation is planning major changes to Kansas Highway 10 and the intersection that could begin as soon as 2024. The proposed alignment would directly border the off-leash dog park and city staff have proposed fencing the park for the dogs’ safety.
The extension would create a second exit to the Youth Sports Complex, which staff say would help ease congestion at the 27th Street intersection and provide another entrance to the complex for emergency vehicles. The city has received a KDOT grant to pay for a large portion of the project. A city staff memo to the commission states that since city staff originally proposed the project and submitted the cost-share application to KDOT, hiring a consultant allows staff to take a step back and “mitigate bias towards an outcome.”
In January, commissioners voted to defer hiring the consultant, which at the time called for a $97,670 contract. Commissioners expressed concern with the cost of the consultant and how seriously a no-build option would be considered. Ultimately, the commission voted unanimously to defer the decision because there was not a majority that agreed on how to move forward.
Based on concerns cited in the meeting, city staff is recommending a revised approach to community engagement to reduce the cost and provide a break in the process at which point the commission could provide direction on the project, according to the memo.
The contract that the commission will consider Tuesday includes three virtual meetings. The first meeting would include the steering committee that the city previously formed in October, and would include discussion of details of the proposed project, KDOT’s planned improvements to K-10 and the intersection, and public input received thus far. The memo notes that although KDOT has been moving forward with the process to complete the highway improvements, construction of the project is currently unfunded.
The second and third meetings would be workshops that include the steering committee and the public. Those meetings would include discussion of a traffic analysis, the committee’s concerns and priorities, and two alternative road alignments that the consultant is tasked with creating. A recommendation will ultimately be provided to the City Commission, which will decide on whether and how to move forward on the project.
Under the proposed contract, the consultant’s fees for project management, public meetings and presentations represent about 46% of the $38,960 contract, or about $17,900, according to the memo. The traffic data and analysis would cost about $9,260, or about 24% of the contract, and the preliminary engineering work would cost about $11,800, or about 30% of the contract.
The city received a $1.04 million grant from KDOT to help fund the project, and has previously estimated the city’s contribution to the project, should it go forward, would be an additional $300,000.
The City Commission will convene virtually for its regular meeting at 5:45 p.m. Tuesday with limited staff in place at City Hall, 6 E. Sixth St. The city has asked that residents participate in the meeting virtually if they are able to do so. A link to register for the Zoom meeting and directions to submit written public comment are included in the agenda that is available on the city’s website, lawrenceks.org.