Following concerns, city leaders to decide whether to reconsider master plan for field operations campus

Renderings of the city's $29 million Field Operations Campus show seven buildings and structures that will serve up to a dozen divisions from the city's Municipal Services and Operations and Parks and Recreation departments.

City leaders will soon discuss concerns from neighbors regarding the city’s plan to build a new field operations campus in eastern Lawrence, and consider reallocating close to $400,000 to modify the master plan for the project to address some of the concerns.

As part of its meeting Tuesday, the Lawrence City Commission will receive an update on the city’s discussions with neighbors about their concerns and consider authorizing the firm Dake Wells Architecture to utilize $383,991 of schematic design funding previously authorized for the project to make modifications.

The city announced plans in 2020 to build a $29 million field operations campus that would span about 75 acres and could house operations of up to a dozen divisions, including solid waste, streets and vehicle maintenance, as the Journal-World reported. The headquarters, proposed for a portion of the city-owned Farmland site in eastern Lawrence, was originally proposed to be directly adjacent to the east edge of the Brook Creek neighborhood between 15th Street and 19th Street. As details of the project became known, neighbors began voicing various concerns about the impact of the facility on the neighborhood.

City staff and the Dake Wells design team held two meetings with neighbors and other interested residents over the summer to provide information about the project and get feedback. According to a city staff memo to the commission, concerns voiced by neighbors included proximity of the site to the neighborhood, unsightly views, noise, light, odors, disruption of open space, and the effect the facility will have on the neighborhood’s property values.

City staff and the design team are requesting the commission to authorize using up to half of the approximately $860,000 the commission previously allocated for schematic design of the new facility “to explore options to address the neighborhood concerns.” That includes potentially reducing some of the 12 city divisions proposed to locate on the new campus or locating some of the divisions further from the neighborhood.

More specifically, the design team would review options for reducing the impact of the project by “prioritizing” the relocation of operations to only six divisions instead of 12, namely streets, storm water, traffic, wastewater collection, water distribution and inspections. The design team would also review the possibilities of relocating the campus’ entrance and some of the proposed functions — Municipal Services and Operations, fueling, the city’s maintenance garage and the solid waste division — further east on the Farmland site. Options to preserve green space and “limit unsightly views, noise, and light from the facilities” would also be reviewed.

Once half of the schematic design is complete, the design team will present the findings to the neighborhood and the commission. The memo notes that future phases of the field operations campus will require additional funding and that those funding requests will be made at a later day as part of the city’s Capital Improvement Plan.

The Lawrence City Commission will meet virtually at 5:45 p.m. Tuesday, and some staff will be in place at City Hall, 6 E. Sixth St. The public may attend the meeting in person at City Hall or participate virtually by following directions included in the commission’s meeting agenda, which is available on the city’s website,


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