Lawrence City Commission to consider first step in project that would build road along dog park
photo by: City of Lawrence
City leaders will soon consider taking a first step in the extension of a road near the Mutt Run Off-Leash Dog Park that more than 1,300 Lawrence residents say they oppose.
As part of its meeting Tuesday, the Lawrence City Commission will consider authorizing the city to issue a request for qualifications for public engagement and design services for the extension of West 27th Street adjacent to the city dog park. The city received a $1.04 million grant from the Kansas Department of Transportation to help fund the approximately $1.55 million project, according to a city staff memo to the commission.
However, a group of Lawrence residents has come out against the proposed road, and a petition asking for a moratorium on the project now has more than 1,300 signatures, according to a document the group shared with the Journal-World.
The project would install an approximately 1-mile paved roadway connecting existing segments of West 27th Street on both the east and west sides of the Clinton Lake spillway, creating a continuous roadway from the Kansas Highway 10 and 27th Street intersection to East 902 Road at the dog park. The dog park currently takes up approximately 100 acres, and City Engineer David Cronin said the extension would be located north of the current dog park and would not encroach on the area.
City officials have said the road project aims to provide more direct access to the dog park, Clinton Lake and nearby Eagle Bend Golf Course, as well as improve access at the city’s Youth Sports Complex. The connection would provide a second entry/exit point to the sports complex, which currently has only one access point at the intersection of K-10 and 27th Street and commonly creates traffic backups near the intersection. As part of their request for a moratorium, the opponents of the road project want the city to consider other options for addressing traffic congestion at the intersection.
Lawrence resident Anne Fowler, one of the organizers of the group, said she thought the number of signatures the group has obtained indicates how many people use the park and don’t want to see a road built alongside it, which would require the area to be fenced.
“It is such a lovely open space,” Fowler said. “It gives people a sense of calm and peacefulness that they can walk in a natural environment.”
The opponents of the project have also claimed that the city hasn’t sought enough input from people who use the dog park. In a letter previously submitted to the commission, Lawrence resident Adrienne Dunavin asked why the city did not get feedback from park users before applying for the grant. She noted that community engagement is a priority in the City Commission’s strategic plan, and she also asked why recent meetings and city surveys focused on improvements to the city’s dog parks instead of whether the road should be extended.
In the memo to the commission, city staff recommends that more work be done to gather community feedback on the project.
“Thus far, the project has not gone well and it is needing a reset to ensure an appropriate community engagement process to involve multiple stakeholders,” the memo states.
Even if the city issues the request for qualifications and later selects a company for design services, the process will still require additional commission approvals before the design process actually begins. The memo states that the chosen company would gather more public input on the project, which would be presented to the Parks and Recreation Advisory Board, Multi-modal Transportation Commission and the City Commission. Cronin said that after this community input process, the City Commission would take a final vote on whether to move ahead with the design services.
Last week, the commission deferred the approval of a revision to the city’s Capital Improvement Plan that would have allocated funding for the project and will now consider that part of the planning document as part of Tuesday’s meeting.
The City Commission will convene virtually at 5:45 p.m. Tuesday with limited staff in place at City Hall, 6 E. Sixth St. The city has asked that residents participate in the meeting virtually if they are able to do so. Directions for submitting public comment and correspondence are included in the agenda that is available on the city’s website, lawrenceks.org.