City to reconsider master plan for field operations campus following concerns from neighbors

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.

Following concerns from neighbors about the city’s plan to build a new field operations campus in eastern Lawrence, city leaders have reallocated close to $400,000 to modify the master plan for the project.

As part of its meeting Tuesday, the Lawrence City Commission voted 5-0 to authorize the firm Dake Wells Architecture to utilize $383,991 of schematic design funding previously authorized for the project to make modifications. Commissioners agreed that they needed to address the neighbors’ concerns where possible.

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. As details of the project became known, residents in the nearby Brook Creek neighborhood began voicing various concerns about the impact of the facility on the neighborhood. Those 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.

As part of the meeting, the commission authorized using up to half of the approximately $860,000 it 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 farther from the neighborhood.

Jo Taylor, a nearby resident, said in a letter to the commission that she appreciated the city’s and design team’s response to the neighborhood’s concerns; however, she said statements that the design team would “explore and review” options to preserve green space and limit unsightly views, noise, and light do little to assuage her concerns or those of her neighbors. Taylor said she thought the best response to those concerns was to abandon the plan to build the field operations campus on the former Farmland site.

Once half of the schematic design is complete, the design team will present the findings to the neighborhood and the commission.


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