Guests tonight are from Lawrence Transit, Kirsty from Midland Care (and NoLaw), architects working on the sprinkle park at Lyons
Board members present: Ted, Alison, Jeff
Ted called the meeting to order at 6:59 pm introducing the guests who are here to talk to us about park improvements and other issues.
Ted said we want the tennis courts back in addition to having the pickleball courts. Kirsty has been interviewing residents on their thoughts on this. She said it was wonderful to talk with people in the neighborhood. She met some really cool folks! They have thoughtful and passionate ideas about the parks in NoLaw. She bought her house here because she could walk to the tennis courts. She has been a tennis professional her entire life. At first, there was one tennis court and one pickeball court, and that was a great mix, and representational of the unique neighborhood we have. Many folks wanted tennis court nets raised to regulation rates, and many people want a practice wall added.
Folks do not want to lose the basketball courts but also are sad that tennis is not available any longer. One neighbor said without the basketball courts, he would not have made it through COVID. It helped a lot of kids get through the isolation. Kirsty talked with neighbors bout the basketball court use at John Taylor. Neighbors there said that the court are multipurpose. People teach kids how to ride bikes on the courts. People dance and do Tai Chi on the courts. Neighbors will sit and watch kickball and other games at the sports fields in the parks from their front yards. It was unanimous that folks want the parks to add sports and keep the parks diverse rather than take any sports away from the parks.
Kirsty said that folks from Common Ground garden at John Taylor said that a restroom would really help them! Neighbors in the area are concerned that unhoused people might choose to squat in the restrooms, but other neighbors suggested that the restrooms be locked overnight the way they are in Lyons park.
Kirsty said that 7th street seems like a “speedway” from the train tracks to highway 40. One idea was to add more 4-way stops and then have flags and other indicators at those stops, the way the city did when we got stop signs over the past few years at intersections that formerly didn’t have signs.
Kirsty asked for feedback from attendees. Folks talked about time limits at the courts, common courtesy, parking issues, and where trees had been taken out recently.
Ted agreed that we need Lyons to be a multi-sport park. We will be getting a new shelter at the park, and we will keep an eye on the parking issues there.
Next the architects working on the spray park spoke. LandWorks Studio is heading up the project in concert with the city. The spray park has been in the city’s P&R plan for about five years. One is already under construction in East Lawrence on Burroughs Creek Trail. This will be the second project done and it will start in 2022. They are speaking to residents and sharing initial design processes and will be submitting plans to the city in about a week. The earliest a plan could be approved would be early August. The project will be open to public comment throughout the process.
The firm has looked at Lyons park and figured out an ideal space for the spray park, close to the current picnic shelter (which will be upgraded or possibly angled differently in the park when it’s upgraded in 2024), the restroom (which will not change), and the playground (which will be upgraded this year). Spray parks are an aquatic recreation amenity that does not involve any standing water, unlike a wading pool. The water collects in drains and is captured, filtered, and re-used rather than used only once. The parks are more accessible and don’t require lifeguards or knowing how to swim. They have smooth, level, paved terrain, so are more accessible.
SE corner of the park near the playground to the east of the current parking area by the courts is the location, and the playground is also scheduled to be replaced within the next year, so the two will be designed in concert with one another. There is the correct type of access to water and sanitary sewer in that corner of the park. They plan to preserve the existing shade trees as well.
The architects brought design boards with an overview of the spray park location and two concepts that they are looking at for the design in relation to the playground. The playground surface will change to pour and place rubber rather than wood chips. There will also be a new sidewalk put in on the north side of Lincoln Street.
A resident asked if the porta-potty will remain by the pickleball courts. Mark H. said that it’s only there when the regular bathrooms are closed. The regular restrooms will open on April 15th. They are always locked overnight.
A resident asked if there will be regular swings in the updated playground. There is a swing planned, but it looks kind of different from a regular old rubber swing. The resident asked if there will be baby swings. There will be different versions, replacing what we have.
A resident asked if they have spoken to the business on the south side of Lincoln. They have not yet. Ted said that there are going to be new warehouses built on the south side of Lincoln soon, and they will also put sidewalks in.
A resident asked about both summer and winter play. The spray park will only be open when restrooms and drinking fountains are turned on, so spring, summer, and some fall hours. The spray park will have daily hours when it is operational as well and operate on a timer. The features will turn on with a pedal or button, and have a programmed sequence. Parks and Rec is looking at what the optimum operating schedules for the spray parks will be. The playground equipment will be available 365 days a year.
A resident asked if the project would be less expensive if the shelter stayed the same rather than getting renovated or moved. The shelter budget is coming out of a different line item, so it doesn’t impact the cost of the spray park.
A resident asked about the budget and if there was money to make improvements to other parts of the parks, like the basketball courts. Mark said there are multiple projects and funding, which are separate, and that they are planning to resurface the basketball courts this year. The resident said that the baskets are too low.
Residents were encouraged to look at the designs and weigh in on which ones they liked or didn’t like with blue or red dots on the designs. It looks like we won’t get our recreation center with a pool any time soon, but we like this idea!
Mark said that the John Taylor Park restroom CIP/funding will be looked at for 2026. Mark spoke about some of the more updated designs for playgrounds in Lawrence and other shelter ideas, like the sails in Burcham Park. We do like to picnic in the rain… so we are pro roof.
Ted featured the new North Lawrence tee shirt that is based on our new Welcome sign at the Depot. Sign Up did the sign, the city built the frame for it and illuminated it, and Happy Shirt printed the tee shirts. $12 for members, $15 for everyone else.
Ted said that even though we usually do not meet in June, July, or August, we have some big changes happening in Lawrence, and we might want to invite the new Police Chief to visit. If we do have an extra meeting this summer, it will be in the Lawrence Journal World, on Facebook, and on our website.
Ted reminded everyone that even though we were not face-to-face for the last 2 years, NLIA was still busy working for North Lawrence.
The North Lawrence Garage Sale will be the weekend of May 21st. Midland Care will hold their second fundraising lunch between 10am and 2pm. Hopefully it will not be a torrential downpour this year.
A resident asked if Ted had heard complaints about property taxes this year. Ted gave clear recommendations how to appeal —especially finding which properties that the county compares to yours and noting the clear differences. Residents can get a list from the county and compare them and appeal raises or changes in their taxes.
A resident noted that he is one of the folks who likes to watch games in Lyons park from his front yard. He wondered if kickball was going to make a comeback because he really enjoys watching games. Kirsty suggested that we aren’t promoting Lyons park as a great place to play kickball. Our mayor said that the Kaw Valley leagues have not been gathering as much during COVID, and they will be restarting this May.
Ted said he will report back to the city about slowing traffic on north 7th street, especially with the updated amenities that will draw more children and families to the park at 7th and Lincoln.
A member of Lawrence Transit is here this evening to do a presentation about route redesign. She had handouts of the route proposals and did a short presentation. There will be a new transit hub built at Bob Billings and Crestline. The KU routes will change in August of 2022, and the city routes will change early in 2023. There is a survey available, and route proposals are still open to public comment via Lawrence Listens.
Route 4, the current NoLaw route, will have two major changes, possibly three. The route will be moved to North Street rather than Lyon Street, and will connect to a 6th street route during peak frequencies, 30 and 60 minute frequencies. Between 7 and 9 am and in the early afternoons, there will be a bus every 30 minutes, and it will take people downtown, along 9th to the Merc, and out 6th to Rock Chalk Park. There will also be Sunday micro transit service available, similar to dial a ride, or via an app, and it will be more point-to-point. They will also be looking at fare-free service starting in 2023 after the routes are changed. There will also be interline routes available, offering fewer transfers per ride.
We did our drawing gift certificate and Ted mentioned that we have snacks tonight.
Ted closed the meeting talking about the possible pedestrian walkway designs over the river. He said that the projects behind Johnny’s are picking up again after two years of not doing much during the pandemic. The walkways didn’t really have designs for how they would connect and integrate into North Lawrence — just designs for south of the river. So folks working on the projects behind Johnny’s are going to integrate with the walkway folks, and Ted will bring notes and designs to the May meeting.
All new development will be bordered by North 2nd street, and not extend east of there. We are still looking at six possible grocery store chains for that location in the second phase of the project. Johnny’s will stay the same, but Betty’s will have a big building with commercial and residential spaces available. The Gaslight building will be saved, and stories will be added in the first phase. The second phase will include a hotel and a grocery store between the first phase developments and the levee. All facades of the buildings will need to resemble the historic depot and be limited to how high they can be on N. 2nd street. The elevator building behind Johnny’s will also be preserved, perhaps by barn and building preservation folks.
The entire project is required to have its own storm water abatement system and not tie into the existing systems, which get overloaded already when we have heavy storms. The first phase will likely have a retention pond, and the second will include the pump system for stormwater.
The whole walkway/connecting design is furthering the goal of connecting the entire loop around the city, and some folks want bike paths extended around and north of the airport as well (as the levee curves to the north on both ends).
Ted encouraged residents to give input on how we want these things done, since we are the folks who live here.
We did have first responders available, an engine and five firefighters, sitting across the river here when the big KU parade happened on Sunday. Ted was instrumental in getting that to happen; the city does not have a consistent policy or a habit of making sure we are covered every time big events happen. We actually have to ask EVERY time!
We adjourned the meeting around 8:22 pm but people stood around and chatted afterwards.