Lawrence City Commission defers decision to hire consultant for project that would build road along dog park

photo by: City of Lawrence

A map shows a connection that would link two existing segments of 27th Street, connecting the Youth Sports Complex to the Clinton Lake spillway, creating another point of access for the complex, the nearby dog park and the lake.

City leaders voted to defer hiring a consultant to help guide a community steering committee that will discuss a controversial project to extend a road near the Mutt Run Off-Leash Dog Park.

As part of its meeting Tuesday, the commission considered awarding a $97,670 contract to JEO Consulting Group for community engagement services for the road extension project, which many dog park users strongly oppose. Commissioners expressed concern with the cost of the consultant, and voted unanimously to defer the decision.

Some commissioners suggested that the steering committee, which will consider alternatives to the proposed road alignment as well as a no-build option, initially move forward without the help of the consultant. However, City Engineer Dave Cronin said that if the city ends up going forward with the project, it would be important that the consultant was involved from the beginning. Cronin suggested instead that the city break the consulting work into phases and not pay for latter phases if the committee recommends a no-build option and the commission agrees with that recommendation.

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 proposed alignment would directly border the off-leash dog park and city staff have proposed building a fence for the dogs’ safety.

The city received a $1.04 million grant from the Kansas Department of Transportation to help fund the project, and estimates the city’s contribution would be an additional $300,000, according to a city staff memo. The extension would create a second exit to the Youth Sports Complex, which staff say would help ease congestion at the 27th Street intersection and provide another entrance to the complex for emergency vehicles. A group of dog park users object to the project and hiring the consultant because they say the road would disrupt the open space and safety of the park and may not be necessary since KDOT is planning major changes to K-10 and the intersection that could begin as soon as 2024.

There was not a majority of the commission that agreed on how to move forward, and the topic will be deferred to a future meeting for further discussion. A date for that discussion is not yet set.

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