Lawrence City Commission approves permit for water tower replacement
photo by: Rochelle Valverde
After an hours-long discussion, city leaders have approved a permit that will allow the city to replace a water tower in a city park.
Around midnight during their Tuesday evening meeting, the Lawrence City Commission voted 4-1, with Commissioner Lisa Larsen opposed, to approve a special use permit for an approximately $3.8 million project to demolish the existing water tower and construct a new one in Water Tower Park, 1225 Sunset Drive.
Residents of the adjacent West Hills neighborhood filed a protest petition against the permit, and many residents expressed concerns about the effect of the project on the park and the nearby homes. Commissioners in favor of moving forward on the project agreed that replacing the tower was the more cost-efficient choice over the long run and therefore the best choice for the city’s utility rate payers. Larsen indicated an interest in clarifying the cost and efficiency of rehabilitating the existing tower and voiced concern that neighbors were not involved in the process earlier.
The current tower will not be demolished until the new tower is completed, and in an effort to address concerns from neighbors, the commission called for the new tower to be built as close to the current tower location as possible. Specifically, the new tower will be 30 to 37 feet farther west than previous plans indicated, moving the tower more toward the northwest quadrant of the two-acre park.
Under previous plans, the new tower was more centrally located in the park. The shift westward will be accomplished through a reduction to the size of the bowl of the tower and incurring additional construction costs. The commission also called for other conditions, such as a lighted 10-foot path along one side of the park, as well as prohibitions against the addition of fencing around the tower, private communication antenna and related private equipment buildings. The site plan for the project will come back to the commission for review at a future meeting to ensure all conditions are met.