March 2020 Meeting Notes

Officers present: Ted, Jeff, Alison

Neighbors present: 8

Ted called the meeting to order at 6:57pm.

Ted chatted a little bit with a former resident about the Maple Street pump and the improvements that were done on Perry Street and other nearby streets to improve storm water drainage north of the tracks in North Lawrence.

On the subject of water, Ted said there is a proposal for someone to build whitewater rapids on the South side of the river, near the old power plant. There will be two ponds for rafting built along with a service road. Water from the dam will flow through these ponds to create rapids. Part of the project will include continuing the Lawrence Loop from behind the Santa Fe Depot going east to connect to Burcham Park. Dam repair will also coincide with the construction of the rapids ponds. There is both federal and city money involved. We expect construction to start early next year.

And also on the subject of water, Ted said that there is still not a backup generator for the pumps underneath the underpass, even though there are new pumps that run on electricity. He is still working on getting the city to install a natural gas generator for the pumps when the electricity goes out and in the event that the backup lines also go down, as we have had numerous times in the past three years — eight times last year, one due to the pump exploding and seven because Westar (at the time) cut both power sources. A backup generator would cost about $40K.

Ted said he has met with the new city manager, Craig Owens, a number of times. Ted encourages residents to write letters to the Commission and the City Manager on any number of topics that are of concern to us, and to attend city commission meetings.

Ted reviewed what happened at Christmas with the holiday lights at the Union Pacific Depot once the Visitor Center moved out (last year, before the holidays). We had very few lights at first; Ted went to the city and asked them to put more lights up. In 2020, we are supposed to have the exact same lighting as Mass Street south of the river, because the area is zoned as Downtown. We will be keeping an eye on what they do!

Ted has been working on the history of Jefferson, Kansas and North Lawrence, when we ended up as part of Lawrence (after one failed bid a few years earlier). Jefferson preceded Lawrence; Chief Sarcoxie of the Turtle Band tribe was here. There were trees on this side of the river, but the Delaware people had burned the land south of the river, so there were no trees. There is a lot of history just sitting in storage at Watkins. Ted is working on having a North Lawrence and Jefferson history rotate through the glass cases at the UP Depot. That way, it will be seen by people who rent out the space for private events and also when we vote.

The St Patrick’s Day parade will start at 1 pm in South Park on Tuesday, March 17th and end in North Lawrence at the Bird. Ted and Pat are the Senior King and Queen this year.

Ted shared some renderings of the projects that will be happening behind Johnny’s Tavern. He is still working with the group that is trying to get a grocery store put in at that location. Ted reminded us that the project at the Borders building fell through because the owners of the building put that building up for sale. There has been talk of a grocery store at 2nd and Locust for over a decade. There are information packets on their way to 7 different grocery retailers detailing the population in the area and the plans for the development. These retailers include Aldi, which is already looking at placing another store in Lawrence (possibly out by the Sports Pavilion). North Lawrence remains in a federally defined food desert.

Ted asked our guest speaker to speak. Schuyler is a graduate student in the School of Architecture, working on a thesis with a research project relating to the bus system and the current grassroots project that residents have put up at bus stops. The buses run in 30 minute or one-hour increments, and residents need amenities at the stops while they are waiting. The City has not provided shelters or seating at all of the stops. She is looking at accessibility, problems, and bottom-up solutions that would work to help residents use the transportation system more easily. She noted that one of the only grocery stores that it’s possible to reach by bus from North Lawrence is The Merc, which is also one of the most expensive ones, and the trip takes about an hour. She had flyers and contact information for residents (which Alison will post).

A couple of residents asked questions about the project. The transit hub is supposed to be moving to Bob Billings and Crestline, which may be one reason why there are no amenities built in certain areas. The land will be rented from the University. This move has been in the works for 10 years. The project is to highlight the amenities and the concerns of residents. Schuyler will meet with anyone who wants to talk about their concerns.

Ted said that Velocity Church fundraised to donate $10K to build bus benches and shelters. The city could not accept the money at that time, because there was no written policy for accepting donations from organizations. The city had to draft a policy first before they could accept the money. Ted told the donor that they should stipulate that the money be used for the project intended only, rather than put into the general fund. East Lawrence and North Lawrence were highlighted as the neighborhoods in need of amenities. Ted will ask the new city manager if the funds are going to be used for this project only, including sidewalks and other ways that riders can access the bus safely. Many of the stops are just a patch of grass on the side of the road.

Ted said that para-transit and transit for the elderly, which are called in for specific pickup, are use more than the regular route that comes through some of North Lawrence. There are two seating areas with some shelter at the main stops on the 4 route, but none on the smaller stops. Which is why we see resident-made “bus benches” out of lawn chairs, etc. Ted believes that if there are amenities at the bus stops, more people would feel more comfortable using the transit system. According to Bob Nugent at the time, a bench on a concrete slab would cost $15K.

Schuyler is talking to Van Go, the kids who make the beautiful benches, about possibly donating benches for bus stops and helping create amenity infrastructure. Ted said that there is a cool bench made out of a big tree on Locust Street (where there is also one bus shelter, on the north side). A resident asked why there aren’t buses running when the bars get out. There is Safe Ride available for folks who cannot drive home.

A resident said that the routes also do not connect well; the North Lawrence bus gets to the library just after other buses that go to the University and further leave the hub. If the transit hub is moved to Bob Billings, we expect that waits and the route times would end up being longer. The bus works decently for students, but it isn’t working for residents actually to get where they need to go.

Alison mentioned that a friend of the Grocery Committee worked with one of the TV stations a few years ago in Kansas City and they filmed his ride from Pinckney neighborhood to Checkers to get groceries.

David (a resident) wanted to let everyone know that (Alice) Carleen Howieson passed away on February, 25th at her home. She was our neighbor on Lincoln Street, and had lived there since 1996 when she built her house. We will post the obituary in a separate post. There is not a memorial service scheduled at this time. Donations can be made in Carleen’s name to the Lawrence Humane Society or a local charity of your choice. Ted thanked David for recalling how he met her and how he helped her over the years. She is going to be terribly missed.

Ted reminded attendees about the successful Christmas donations this last year. (Please see the post with the January meeting notes for the details…) Ted was involved in buying diapers, feminine hygiene items, and delivering bicycles that Wes bought from The Lawrence Recyle-ry to Ballard Center. Ted reminded us that every dollar that was donated stayed in North Lawrence with our families and our “working poor”. We have been collecting for the Christmas fund for over 15 years. Ted is very proud of the businesses and the individuals in North Lawrence that support this fund every year.

Ted said that anyone who wants to attend city commission meetings with him, give him your contact information. The meetings happen the first and third Tuesday evenings of the month at 5:45 pm at City Hall, 6 East 6th Street, the Commission Room, first floor. There is a public comment section during which residents can talk for three minutes about any topic of concern; it is not necessary to get the topic on the formal agenda.

A reminder that if you’re cleaning out your closet this spring, Ballard Center accepts clothing, especially business and business casual clothing, for their “professional closet” clothing pantry. Donated business attire helps people who need to dress well for job interviews and for work.

The meeting was adjourned at 8:17 pm

Stay safe and well, everyone. See you in April!

March Meeting Monday

The March meeting of North Lawrence Improvement Association will take place as scheduled Monday, March 9th, 7pm at Peace Mennonite Church, 615 Lincoln Street.

We have our spring events and activities to discuss and will have a special guest in to talk to us about the grassroots bus stop seating movement in Lawrence.

Cookies and drinks provided. Membership is $5/year and dues support the operating expenses of the organization, which is no longer federally funded. We will hold our regular raffle for a DLI certificate.

Hope to see you there!

Reminder for Monday

Just a reminder that there is NO NLIA meeting tomorrow night. We will be hosting our annual Cabin Fever Chili Supper at 5 pm at the UP Depot. Everyone is welcome!
We still need folks to bring more soups, chilis, salads, and desserts — please bring whatever you can share with the community, preferably in a crock pot or other warmer if it’s a dish that needs to be kept hot. You can email us at to let us know what you’re bringing or if you have any questions.
NLIA will provide electrical outlet access, tableware, napkins, drinking water, and some serving utensils for the chilis. If you’d like to help set up or clean up, please show up early or stay a little after. We always appreciate the help.

Cabin Fever Chili Supper 2020

NLIA’s annual Cabin Fever Chili Supper will be held Monday, February 10th at 5 pm at the Union Pacific Depot in North Lawrence, 402 N. Second Street.

This is a community event not to be missed! Whether your tastes range from mild to spicy hot, vegan to meat-laden, we will have tasty dishes for everyone to try. We even invite folks from south of the river! You might sup with the Mayor, or even the new City Manager. Who knows?

As of this writing, we need volunteers to help set up and clean up. We can always use some more soups, chilis, and sides, including desserts, salads, add-ins (cheese, sour cream) or anything else tasty you’d like to bring.

Email the Coordinator at or call Ted at home (see your most recent postcard or last year’s newsletter for phone numbers) to let us know how you can help and/or what you’re bringing.

NLIA provides drinks, some serving utensils, and all the bowls, plates, silverware, napkins, and all the enthusiasm we can muster to make this a fun event.

Donations to offset the costs of renting the hall and other costs incurred by NLIA are welcome.


Meeting minutes — January 20th

Officers present: Ted, Jeff, Alison

Neighbors present: 13

The meeting was rescheduled from last week because Ted had a conflict with a city advisory board meeting.

Ted called the meeting to order at 7 pm. He thanked residents for coming out in the bitter cold.

Ted went to the meeting last week and the downtown zoning on North 2nd Street (formerly Bridge Street, of course!) was part of the discussion. The area goes all the way to Lyon Street, encompasses the Levee cafe, goes to the depot, and covers the area behind Johnny’s.

But Ted believes that we are not benefitting from technically being a downtown district. This year, when the city initially decorated with lights for the holidays, there was much less on the Depot. When Explore Lawrence was a tenant there (which is not a department of the city), we got accustomed to having great decorations on the building and the trees. The new management said they weren’t getting enough signatures from visitors, so they moved downtown about six months ago. Travelers are still stopping at the depot, and when there’s nothing there, Ted eventually gets a call.

The Visitor Center is now on the east side of Mass in the 800 block. There is no parking dedicated to the center, and there is no RV or camper parking in the area the way there was at the Depot.

Ted says it was a bad move to change the Visitor Center to downtown. Though they may be getting more signatures from shoppers in downtown Lawrence, these may not be actual tourists or visitors to the city.

Parks and Recreation is the department that puts up lights, so Ted called city hall when he saw that there were only two bushes and the outline of the Depot decorated after waiting to see if they would put up the customary amount of lights. He said that the whole area looked like a dark hole rather than a festive entrance to the City of Lawrence. Since the zoning is the same as Mass Street downtown, Ted thinks we need to be treated as such. They did put up more lights, but it’s nothing like it was in the previous years when Explore Lawrence was there.

Ted told the commission that he wants the Depot and North 2nd street to be decorated the way downtown is each year, including trees and light poles. Parks and Rec confirmed that they will make sure to decorate the entire Downtown District, all the way to the underpass next year. (They know they will hear from us if they don’t!)

At least 30,000 vehicles per day drive through North Lawrence on North 2nd/3rd. Having a cheerful appearance that mirrors the lights traditionally put up downtown during the holidays will be welcome.

Since the Depot now doesn’t have a tenant and there is space, Ted wants to see more historical information installed that pertains to Jefferson, Kansas (through 1870) and North Lawrence (since 1870), and have the Depot be a permanent installation of the River Kings historical display. Jefferson was here in the 1820s, concomitant with the presence of Delaware tribe. Some of the older buildings still standing are from the 1860s. Ted remembers buildings still standing in the 1960s that were build in 1840 or so. The River Kings were workers that supported business and recreation in Lawrence through the mid-20th century. Currently, part of the River Kings display is in the lobby of the Spring Hill Marriott. Ted would like to see some of the historic material from the Watkins collection also rotate in and out of the Depot on a regular basis.

Were this move to happen, the Depot would become a destination for visitors once more. Currently it is a city-owned building that can be rented for weddings, meetings, etc.

A neighbor talked a little bit about the history of Bismark Grove, where in the 1800s and around the turn of the 20th century, there were picnics, events, races, concerts, etc. The train line used to have a stop at Bismark Grove before it came into the Depot in North Lawrence.

Ted pointed out that as the development behind Johnny’s happens, there will eventually be 500-600 new residents living there, as well as shops and businesses where people will visit and work. We hope there will be a grocery store there as well. Many parts of the Johnny’s building will be saved, as well as the Gaslight building, the building that Sadie’s is in, and the old grain elevator will be preserved.

Ted is on the Downtown Master Plan Advisory Board, and they had their second meeting last week. What the city decides based on what that board and the consultants say will affect how North Lawrence looks and feels over the next 20 years. South of the river they are talking about increasing below-ground parking instead of surface parking in the current surface parking lots. They are exploring building 6-7-story buildings on the current surface lots, with underground parking, retail on the first floor, and offices above. HRC says they cannot demo any historical buildings, but the city can build on currently vacant lots. The plan is 2020-2040, and it will change the look of downtown to look more like the Great Wall of New Hampshire, with the historic buildings interspersed between the new, tall buildings. The limit on height for buildings is currently around 90 feet, but could be up for discussion as infill happens. 

We have a new city manager, who comes to us from Clayton, MO, basically a suburb of St. Louis. They have a lot of new buildings like we do on New Hampshire, and there are 35-40k people who commute to Clayton every day to work in that area, and only 20k residents. So, the 2020-40 plan is looking at preserving the historic character of downtown while building upward and increasing density and residency.

A resident complimented the city for doing a good and timely job of snow and ice removal and pre-treating during the latest storm.

Ted said his purpose on this advisory board is that our side of the river gets developed the way we want it to be. Something like the development behind Johnny’s can only be good where it is, because it would not happen in any other area of North Lawrence due to desire to keep the residential appearance.

Ted continues to work on the grocery store project, with the hope that there will be one that wants to join the development behind Johnny’s. They have been working to contact smaller retailers like Brothers Market (Tonganoxie), Harps Foods (De Soto) and Checkers (of course), along with larger retailers (ALDI, Price Chopper) with the information about how many residents are underserved in the area, and how many cars come through that intersection each day. The grocers that are being targeted will get a packet of information as well as a large map of the area. We are hoping for a 35,000K grocery store, which is a little smaller than the Mass St DIllons, and parking will be much better.

Ellen Young came to talk with us about the 31st running of the Shamrock Shuffle on Saturday March 7th at 9am. Last year they changed the course and ran the 10K through NL. Many of the 10K runners loved the route and the neighborhood. This year the 5K will be the first part of the 10K route rather than run on the levee. The run begins at 9, and the 5K should be over by 10. There will be an aid station again at The Bird (mile 1.5). Residents are welcome to sit and watch runners and encourage them on their route or play music. The race will begin at Johnny’s, drop off the Levee at 8th and Oak, 9th to Maple, left at Maple to Locust, to Elm, and then west (opposite of traffic, in a designated lane) on Elm to 3rd, and at 3rd and Elm get back on the Levee around the Levee Cafe and the 5K be mostly over around 10 am. The 10K will continue over the bridge into the Pinckney neighborhood. There are volunteers who will be picking up trash and taking care of the runners. Volunteers will flyer the affected streets with door hangers.

Proceeds from the race will go to Tenants to Homeowners, Positive Bright Starts, and Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library. Last year the money went to the Lawrence Children’s Choir and Lawrence Football.

A resident asked how many runners typically run. Ellen said 300-350. A resident asked where the runners will park. Ellen said that they will park at Johnny’s, the Visitor Center, and the parking lot at 2nd and Locust.

They are calling for volunteers. The city wants adult volunteers at all the major intersections. People can show up at Johnny’s to be assigned to their volunteer jobs.

The St. Patrick’s Day parade originally started at The Bird, went across the bridge, and went on various streets to what is now the R bar. Apparently merchants in downtown didn’t want rowdy, drunk, heathen North Lawrence folks parading on Mass Street — until they saw the crowd that the parade draws! Then the parade started at South Park and came up to the Bird, and a few people wanted it to stop at 6th. But because it started at The Bird, and was originally a North Lawrence event, we would not have that.

The Christmas donations totaled around $5000 this last year. Officially, we adopted around 8 families. Each got $500 in gift cards, from DIllons and Wal Mart. Becky Price at the Ballard Center distributed the cards to the families. We had some extra money, so we bought more gift cards to give to additional families in the form of gas cards, etc. Then, we still had some money left over, so Ted asked Becky what they needed. She said diapers! Ted cleaned out the #4 diapers at the local retailers along with baby wipes, etc. He asked Becky what else they needed! It was supplies for women’s monthly needs. Ted asked, you really want ME to go buy this? But he did! NLIA also gave out a number of $50 -100 cards to more people whose names we got from Ballard, individuals and families that might need a little help.

We also had a nice surprise this year from Wes at the Bird. He stopped at the Re-Cyclery and crew down $1000 for bicycles and said Ted will be by to pick them up. Ted got a call the Saturday before Christmas from Wes saying that the bike shop was expecting him. Wes said he’d know what to do with the bikes! Wes bought a variety of bikes from small trikes on up to 5th-6th grader size.Ted called a friend with a truck help him pick them up and take to Ballard. Ted also got a call from a resident about some teddy bears she had that along with some winter hats and gloves. It was a huge bag full of little bears and a huge bag or stocking caps, and gloved for kids!

Ted said that all the businesses up on North 2nd and 3rd are very generous and caring during  the holiday season and that everyone misses Beverly. Ted has been doing the collection mostly on his own the past 2 years. Beverly recently retired after 15 years of doing this volunteer job, but she sure has our businesses “well-trained” to help with the project. They are glad that the money stays in North Lawrence and helps North Lawrence families.

Ted talked about the traffic calming devices destined for Lyon Street. They are finally being installed, after a 2-year wait once we were awarded the federal grant money to install them. (These are the grants that we are no longer eligible for because we are no longer a low-to-moderate-income neighborhood). Ted had been asking the city why the humps had not been installed even though we had gotten the money via our grant two years ago, $40,000 to pay for and install them. There is a new traffic engineer who has been taking bids for outside contractors to do the humps, and the latest bids were $9300, rather than the $8000 we bid the grant out for. Because we got a federal grant for ours, ours should not cost the taxpayers that, however!

Ted said that recently there was a church that wanted to donate $10K to the city to put in bus benches and bus shelters. (Ted said he was worried the city would commandeer the money and spend it somewhere else!) The commission would not take that money from the church for that project. They said they didn’t have a policy for how to take gifts from organizations or people for projects.

A resident reminded us that there is a year-round farmers’ market in North Lawrence, on Saturday afternoons from 2-4 at Happy Shirt. There is also a Sunday market that happens at 10am at Slow Ride Roadhouse. This outdoor market will begin again on March 1st — and you can get tacos at Slow Ride when you’re done shopping.

The Cabin Fever Chili Supper will be Monday, February 10th at 5:00pm at the Union Pacific Depot. This will be in lieu of the regular monthly meeting. We have only 13 folks signed up to bring food — so get in touch with Ted or Alison soon to let you know what you’re bringing!

Ted asked for a motion to adjourn and a second. The vote was was unanimous.

January NLIA Meeting POSTPONED

The January meeting of NLIA will be postponed to Monday, January 20th (Martin Luther King Day) because of a committee conflict that the President has encountered.

Ted is one of 18 people on the Downtown Master Plan Steering Committee. They will be meeting that night with a consultant from Houseal Lavigne Associates to review the “Existing Conditions Analysis and Vision” that this consulting firm has created.

Please be thinking about what dish you plan to bring to the Cabin Fever Chili Supper on Monday, February 10th, 5:30pm at the Depot. We will be taking names at this next meeting.

Ted can update on the activities of the city committee and how their plans will affect North Lawrence (hint: strongly!) at our delayed meeting.

We will see you at 7pm on Monday, January 20th at Peace Mennonite Church, 615 Lincoln Street.

Thank you to our Holiday Donors

NLIA would like to extend a warm “Thank You!” to all of our Christmas Fund donors.
These individuals and businesses are part of what make North Lawrence such a great place to live and work. Their generosity this year will help us adopt six North Lawrence families through the Ballard Center.
We couldn’t do this without them! There are more names to come. When you happen to see these folks, please tell them thank you for helping our adopted families have a Merry Christmas.
Bill Barker
BCR Storage
Bowersock Electric
Century Homes
Combs Custom Cycle
Cordova Motors
John Davis
Englewood Florist
Extreme Bus Builders
Happy Shirt
David and Joyce Higgins
ICL Chemical Plant
James Gang Automotive
Johnny’s North
Kansas Manufacturing
Kelli from Uplift Coffee Shop
Lawrence Battery
Lawrence Landscape
Lynn Electric
David Mitchell
Steve Ruttinger
Sandy Unfred

NLIA Winter Social

As usual, in lieu of our December meeting, The North Lawrence Improvement Association’s “Annual Winter Social” will be held Monday, December 9th, 7pm at Centenary United Methodist Church (4th and Elm).
Church volunteers will open the Festival of Nativities for neighbors to enjoy (usually it’s only open Saturday and Sunday 12-4). The volunteers will graciously serve hot apple cider and be on hand to answer any questions. We will also have cookies!
The gift shop will be open as well — holiday items, handmade crafts, ornaments, jams, jellies, and cookies are available for cash sale.
There are rumors this may be the last year of the Festival, so if you’ve never seen this display, Monday night would be the night to attend. It is a true hidden treasure of North Lawrence, and there are always new things to see.
NLIA will be collecting donations for Ballard Center. Items like diapers, personal hygiene items, women’s care items, and other goods not covered by SNAP as well as non-perishable food are needed.
We will also be accepting donations for our Christmas families.
Hope to see you there!

Notes from November Meeting and a flier

Thanks for your patience, everyone. I’ve got a back-log of notes I need to go through from previous months (and years), and have been trying to figure out the best way to log these without clogging up the website. I’ll do my best to get those back-posted over the winter months.


NLIA meeting, Monday, November 18th, 7pm, Peace Mennonite Church

Officers present: Ted and Alison

Neighbors present: 18 (including our Mayor and a future commissioner)

Ted gave a treasurer’s report. It was available for attendees to view at the front table.

Ted talked about the Christmas donations. Beverly, who used to collect the money, reminded us that businesses expect all of their donations to go into the Christmas accounts, rather than the treasury for NLIA. Ted said that we don’t use any of the Christmas money for operations expenses for NLIA.

Ted asked for volunteers for the Christmas collection project. The last year that Beverly collected the money was 2017 — after fifteen years of collecting! Ted and Jeff collected in 2018 (and really missed Beverly). NLIA could use people to help this year so Ted isn’t trying to do everything on his own. We usually collect around $5000 per year and help between four and six families.

The Ballard Center already has four families in mind; NLIA always takes on more families and folks than originally planned, but is are able to do this because businesses and individuals in the neighborhood are so generous this time of year. A majority of our local businesses regularly support this project and write large checks for these families. NLIA spends the money on gift cards to major retailers, grocery cards, gas cards, and gift items from the families’ lists.

The families all live in North Lawrence, so the money and benefits stay here. NLIA coordinates with the Ballard Center to get the cards, and gifts to them on time so that the families can pick them up before the holiday.

Ted went on to talk about the approval for double-density in Lawrence. North Lawrence has serious stormwater problems already, so the more rooftops and the less ground we have for water to percolate through, the more trouble we will have with stormwater runoff. We have had the 6.6 million dollar pump for four years now, but it has only been used at about half-capacity so far, even with the torrential storms we’ve seen since 2017. This isn’t because we don’t have the stormwater; it’s because we cannot get the water to the pump. The ditches aren’t directed to the Maple Street pump drainage areas the way they need to be. Ted said that the city was supposed to reconfigure all of the ditches and driveway tubes starting four years ago (under the pretense that they could do it more cheaply than contracting it out). So far they have done Locust and Perry streets for just a few blocks. They have dug out some other ditches, like along Lincoln Street, but they are still problems and the ditches do not all drain toward the drainage areas that take water to the pump. The city does not allocate enough money for most projects, definitely not for North Lawrence, and they usually run out of money for projects within three months of the new year.

Ted met with the mayor last week about double-density as well as the stormwater issues. He said that double-density is only raising property values rather than solving our affordable housing issues. East Lawrence, Pinckney, and Brook Creek are experiencing the same issues as we are (driving up housing costs) but North Lawrence is especially going to continue to experience stormwater problems as density increases. Double-density is not the solution to affordable housing in Lawrence. While we believe smaller houses can fill one niche, that of young people graduating college and wanting to settle down in Lawrence and perhaps helping retiring or single people who want to downsize, it does not fill the gap for families who need larger spaces with enough bedrooms.

Ted has asked Matt Bond if double-density would raise flood insurance prices. Matt said that FEMA does a study every five years and we would have to wait until we are re-evaluated to find out.

Ted has talked with some people who own lots in North Lawrence who are considering raising the prices on their lots to be competitive with West Lawrence prices, or else sitting on their properties rather than selling. One of the reasons that double-density builders are predating on our neighborhood (and the other lower-income neighborhoods) is the cheaper prices of our lots. These developers have no consideration for the fact that they are going to cause storm water runoff problems for current and future owners once they cover those lots with roofs and non-permeable structures such as driveways and patios.

We have had more than 12 new houses built in North Lawrence since the beginning of 2019. These, however, have been more of the usual 2-and-3-bedroom houses, not tiny houses.

Double-density will change how FEMA looks at the stormwater situation in North Lawrence, but the survey won’t be immediate. We are protected by a levee, and it’s less likely for the river to overcome the levee to cause a flood situation. In an actual flood situation, it is more likely that storm water accumulating and running toward the river is what will inundate houses and roads and cause hazards and damage.

ALL of the stormwater that hits North Lawrence has to be pumped out; it has no place to run otherwise. When people build houses on land that previously served the purpose of stormwater percolation and protection, there is no place for the water to go except into our basements, garages, and foundations.

785-832-3400 is the phone number of the new city manager, Craig Owens. Ted encourages you to call if you have any questions.

A resident commented on affordable housing. She said that lots bigger than 7K square feet can be divided, but RS5 need to apply for special permits. Ted said that many of the smallest lots we had in North Lawrence were RS7 before 25 years ago. Then the city pushed RS5 zoning, and because North Lawrence already believed this was too small of a lot to handle stormwater, we were the last neighborhood to agree to the zoning. The neighbor said that they must consider these issues if they are building houses on a smaller lot. Ted says no they do not. Alison concurred that neither the developers or the city take these factors into consideration when they build here.

A resident suggested that we need, as a neighborhood to focus on overall permeability of the land for each site, not only new build, so it would apply for people who were remodeling, putting in impermeable driveways, etc. This idea would ensure that we can have each property have as much permeable land as it needs for stormwater abatement, not just the older and existing properties.

A resident asked about the rules regarding bringing in clay soil to build up house foundations, which some developers are still bringing in. This is not supposed to happen, but clearly, it still does.

The city is also supposed to allow each homeowner to keep all of the soil dug out of their  front ditches. They are supposed to ask the homeowners where they can place the soil on the property if they wish to keep it. They city did not do this on Lincoln Street when they worked recently, even though Ted called the city and also chased the trucks to see where they went with the soil.

Ted has been talking with Matt Bond at Stormwater Engineering for years about stormwater control, and said the the city made a plan about four years ago to have engineering studies done whenever big projects happen. However, nobody is sure what happened to that idea. Ted feels like he has been singing the song of the stormwater and the grocery store over and over and over again, for years and years.

Double-density isn’t a bad idea, and North Lawrence Improvement Association isn’t against the idea of smaller housing per se. It will only become a problem when new build affects stormwater and existing structures in a negative way, as we have already seen with regular-sized housing and lots.

A resident asked about maintenance of ditches. Keeping the ditches free of debris and weeds is the responsibility of the homeowner, but the city is responsible for directing the water toward the appropriate pumps. If your driveway tube is blocked or compromised, call the city to have them come clear it or replace it.

A resident asked about the north side of North Street, and if they could get ditches that run from about 4th down to 6th to go toward the Maple Street pump. Ted gave an example on Lake street, where the ditches had to be 4 feet deep and 3 feet wide to run properly, so the city had to put tubes in rather than keep the ditches. Ted thinks that North Street, like Lake, is so flat that ditches won’t go toward 6th. But the issue might also be that it is a city/county property line issue.

The city did purchase two new pumps for the 2nd street underpass along with a third, backup pump. However, there is still no backup generator. One time last year, a pump blew up; every other time the pumps went out, it was Westar turning out or losing the secondary power during a storm. NLIA will continue to request a natural-gas backup pump for this area.

Ted mentioned the Cabin Fever Chili Supper for February 10th at 5:30 at the Union Pacific Depot. This event will be here before we know it! The sign up sheet was available on the front table. We had seven folks signed up from last month, and over 18 people in the room (a majority of whom hadn’t signed up yet…). Alison will be in contact with everyone who signs up.

Ted read a letter from the plant manager of ICL, Gordon Leong. The letter was in appreciation of NLIA and the work that we do in and for our neighborhood and the events that we hold. They are providing some operational support funds to us this year. Thanks, Gordon!

Alison talked about the chili cook-off contest that will be held at the North Lawrence Farmers Market. This event will happen at Slow Ride on Sunday, November 24th, 10am-3pm. She had fliers and information available about the event. The entry fee is a warm item of clothing to donate to Ballard Center, and all cash donations to try the chilis will go to Ballard Center.

A resident talked about the other vending market that has started on Saturdays in the Happy Shirt parking lot. This event has food trucks and live music.

Ted asked if any residents had been finding new, brighter street lights instead of their older, lower-Kelvin one. Evergy has been changing out functioning lights to blue-bright LED lights, the color of which is considered harmful to wildlife and humans. The city signed a contract with Westar saying that they weren’t supposed to do this (change out lights that were functioning, but maybe the bulb just burned out). We have already fought this fight with Westar (Evergy) about these blue-color LED lights, but we aren’t making any headway.

A resident asked if the lights can be shielded. The answer is yes; Alison will get that number and put it on Facebook and the website.

Beverly will ask Centenary United Methodist Church if we can have our customary social gathering there on Monday, December 9th, at 7pm rather than our regular business meeting, so we can view the Festival of Nativities. The festival will be held 12pm-4pm on Saturdays and Sundays, starting Saturday, December 7th. This will be the 25th year of the Festival.

The community dinner is at Centenary United Methodist church this coming Wednesday evening, November 20th, 5:30pm-7pm. It will be a Thanksgiving-style dinner. All are welcome. The church will provide turkey, ham, potatoes, and dressing. Participants can bring salads and desserts.

Ted asked for a motion to adjourn. It was put forward and seconded. All responded aye.

All neighbors and business owners in North Lawrence are welcome to attend meetings and become members of North Lawrence Improvement Association. We thank everyone who came out tonight for their generous support of our organization and our Christmas families.