Lawrence City Commission to consider dam maintenance project that could include plaza and kayaking area along Kansas River

photo by: Ashley Hocking

The proposed site for a Kansas River recreation area is located on the south bank of the river, shown here on Nov. 9, 2018.

City leaders will soon consider a dam and riverbank maintenance project that could also lead to the addition of public access points and whitewater features to the Kansas River.

As part of its meeting Tuesday, the Lawrence City Commission will consider a $1.24 million contract to repair holes in the dam, stabilize the riverbank and design potential recreational components and a public access point to the river.

The city is legally responsible for maintenance for the dam and owns the land under Abe & Jake’s Landing and the adjacent Riverfront Plaza building, where the riverbank is eroding and needs to be stabilized. A city selection committee is recommending a contract with TSP Environmental that calls for about $574,000 for dam repairs, $600,000 for riverbank stabilization and $62,000 in engineering costs for the potential recreational improvements, according to a city staff memo to the commission.

Instead of rebuilding the existing retaining wall along the riverbank, the commission will consider stabilizing the bank by building a public access point. As previously reported by the Journal-World, conceptual plans call for a terraced stone plaza that creates river entry points and extends slightly into the river and helps create pools and whitewater for kayaking and other water activities. Plans for construction of the recreational and access features would come to the commission for consideration at a later date, according to the memo.

The city has $1 million budgeted to repair the holes in the dam and another $1 million to stabilize the riverbank. The city does not have any additional money budgeted toward a recreational aspect, but some of the project could potentially be funded by grants.

The memo states that the city met with the Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism regarding the possibility of using grants for certain aspects of the recreational component of the project. The department indicated it was interested in helping fund the project, potentially through a Coast Guard grant, according to a letter from the department to the city.

City staff also met with representatives of Riverfront LLC, the Marriott hotel, Abe & Jake’s Landing and Bowersock Mills & Power Company to discuss the project, and all parties said they were interested in accommodating public access if the recreation aspects are constructed, according to the memo. Once plans are approved and final costs determined, city staff would negotiate a change order with TSP for the construction of the recreational components, which would then need to be approved by the commission.

The city received proposals from three companies for the project. A staff selection committee interviewed each vendor and recommended awarding the contract to TSP Environmental because its proposal was the most thorough, the project team demonstrated successful completion of several similar projects, and the pricing was competitive, according to the memo.

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



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