Lawrence City Commission to review proposed master plan for $29 million field operations headquarters

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.

More details will soon be shared about the city’s plans to build a $29 million field operations headquarters in eastern Lawrence.

As part of the Lawrence City Commission meeting Tuesday, city staff and the design team for the project will present the master plan for the field operations campus, which the city plans to build on the site of the former Farmland nitrogen fertilizer plant in eastern Lawrence. The approximately 75-acre campus will house seven structures or buildings.

Work groups from both the Municipal Services and Operations and the Parks and Recreation departments will be housed at the new campus, according to the project website. The facility master plan for the field operations campus includes a fuel island, a central maintenance garage and buildings for solid waste, facilities, household hazardous waste and forestry and horticulture. The biggest building on the campus is the public works building, which will house the city’s water, wastewater, streets, stormwater, traffic and inspections divisions.

The city recently held an informational meeting for residents regarding the project, which will be built on a portion of the Farmland site that is adjacent to the east edge of the Brook Creek neighborhood between 15th and 19th streets, according to the project website. At the virtual meeting, a recording of which is available on the project website, some residents expressed concerns about the potential for noise, light, smells and traffic from city trucks negatively affecting the neighborhood. City staff and design members said that an existing tree line between the site and the neighborhood will be maintained, creating a buffer, and that operations and lighting will be centralized on the site so they are farther from the neighborhood. They also said trash trucks are washed daily and that truck traffic will use 23rd Street rather than 19th Street.

photo by: City of Lawrence

The facility master plan for the city’s proposed 75-acre filed operations campus includes seven components.

Apart from the design of the campus, the plan also includes components to help remediate environmental contaminants from the former Farmland plant. A city staff memo to the commission states that city staff and the design team coordinated with GHD, the environmental consultant hired by the city to study conditions on the Farmland site, and that one of the “project imperatives” is to remediate the site so that it can be put to a beneficial use. To that end, the memo states that field operations buildings and parking lots may be able to serve as a physical barrier to help prevent contaminated soil and water from leaving the site.

The City Commission previously approved an engineering services agreement in the amount of $577,480 with Dake Wells for preliminary design services for the project as well as an additional $39,536 for chemical analysis of soil samples, according to the memo. That agreement includes the campus master plan as well as other components, such as a traffic impact study, review of current facility conditions and review of current departmental operations. The memo states that the MSO Department will seek approval from the City Commission for the next phase of design at a future meeting.

The City Commission will convene virtually at 5:45 p.m. Tuesday with limited staff members 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, using temporary meeting procedures put in place to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. Directions for submitting public comment and correspondence are included in the meeting agenda that is available on the city’s website, lawrenceks.org.

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