City leaders ask for more details on how proposed $29 million field operations headquarters would save city money

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.

City leaders would like to know more specifics about how a proposal to build a $29 million field operations headquarters in eastern Lawrence would create operational efficiencies, thereby saving the city money.

As part of the Lawrence City Commission’s meeting on Tuesday, city staff and the design team for the project presented 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 would house seven structures or buildings.

Many of the questions from the commission dealt with the project’s potential impact on city operational costs and the city’s taxpayers and ratepayers. Commissioner Stuart Boley said that if the campus is going to save the city money by making city operations more centralized and efficient, details about those savings would be important to the conversation going forward.

“How will these efficiencies affect the budgetary operations?” Boley said. “How will we save money by doing more efficient work?”

Work groups from both the Municipal Services and Operations and the Parks and Recreation departments would 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 would house the city’s water, wastewater, streets, stormwater, traffic and inspections divisions.

Other commissioners agreed with Boley, and Commissioner Lisa Larsen requested that city staff put together a report that details the efficiencies that the project would bring for both the commission and the public to see. Commissioners also asked whether the project would require that property taxes or utility rates be raised, but city staff said it was too early in the process to say exactly how bonds or utility rates would go toward covering the costs to build the facility.

The City Commission previously approved an engineering services agreement in the amount of $577,480 with Dake Wells Architecture for preliminary design services for the project as well as an additional $39,536 for chemical analysis of soil samples, according to a city staff memo. Additional contracts for the projects would have to go before the commission for approval.

City Commission Meeting 09/15/20


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