New master plan for City of Lawrence’s field operations campus aims to address neighborhood concerns

photo by: City of Lawrence

Part of the Farmland site, looking north, is pictured in this City of Lawrence aerial image. The dashed white line shows where the original master plan located a Municipal Services and Operations Department building.

The City of Lawrence is working on reducing the overall size and number of operations housed in its proposed field operations campus in eastern Lawrence in response to concerns from neighbors.

The location of the proposed campus, on the former Farmland Industries site, borders the Brook Creek Neighborhood, and residents have expressed concerns about the size of the project and its proximity to the neighborhood, including the impact of noise, lighting, odors, traffic and other disruptions. The Lawrence City Commission voted last year to reallocate some of the project’s design funding to come up with an alternative design that addressed the concerns, and a new proposal was presented to the commission this week.

Originally, the proposed master plan for the project called for 13 operations to be located on the site. The largest building, for the city’s Municipal Services and Operations Department, was going to be the building closest to the neighborhood.

The new master plan proposal reduces the number of operations from 13 to nine, removing household hazardous waste, horticulture, forestry, and facility maintenance from the site, according to the new plans. The remaining operations are: streets, stormwater, traffic, wastewater collection, water distribution, inspections, solid waste, the central maintenance garage and a fueling area. The MSO building houses the first six operations.

Under the new plans, the footprint of the campus shifted generally east, away from the neighborhood, accomplished mainly by moving the MSO building from the far west side of the campus to the far east side and leaving the area it would have occupied vacant. The solid waste building is also shifting over. The result is the preservation of green space between the neighborhood and the campus. Plans also call for an acoustic wall and berms — mounds of earth that will also have vegetation coverage — to help reduce noise.

photo by: City of Lawrence

The city’s original master plan for the field operations campus includes six buildings, a fueling area and 13 operations.

photo by: City of Lawrence

The city’s modified master plan for the field operations campus includes three buildings, a fueling area and nine operations.

The presentation also includes a tentative schedule and cost estimates. The project is currently broken into four phases estimated to cost about $123 million total, though the presentation notes those costs are 2021 numbers and are likely low due to increases in the cost of materials. The timeline calls for construction on the first phase to begin in 2025 and for the other phases to be built over the subsequent five years.

According to current estimates, the first phase of the project — which includes the MSO building, fueling area and an entry road — will cost about $40 million. Those estimates will be updated once designs are completed. It’s estimated that planning and associated approvals for the first phase will take place in the latter half of this year and the first quarter of 2023. A public meeting will be held before the project proceeds to the Planning Commission and ultimately the City Commission.

Engineering Program Manager Andy Ensz said in an email to the Journal-World that funding for the first phase of the project — which will include general obligation debt and utility revenue bonds — will be discussed further with the City Commission at its meeting June 21, as part of the city manager’s recommended Capital Improvement Plan. Ensz said the first phase of the project has been included in the city’s current utility rate models, and the impact on utility rates will be discussed in July. He said future phases of the project have not been included in rate models.


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