The Flame - November 2010
Massachusetts Street named a 'Great Place'
Designation sets Lawrence apart from other communities
The American Planning Association recently announced the designation of Massachusetts Street in Lawrence as one of "10 Great Streets for 2010" under the organization's Great Places in America program. APA Great Places exemplify exceptional character and highlight the role planners and planning play in creating communities of lasting value.
APA singled out Massachusetts Street for its forward thinking and commitment to comprehensive planning since the 1970s. Comprehensive plans positioned businesses along the street as central to the area's economy, thereby focusing further retail growth away from proposals that would have hurt the vitality of downtown.
"Massachusetts Street is a shining example of a classic downtown that remains both viable and vibrant. Not only is Massachusetts a hub of retail activity in Lawrence, it is also the center of social and entertainment activities," said Mayor Mike Amyx. "I am proud the city's planners and leaders capitalized on the opportunities available for redevelopment in downtown Lawrence and that the resulting area is now home to an eclectic mix of retail shopping, service-oriented businesses, restaurants and drinking establishments, and many residential opportunities for local residents."
Through Great Places in America, APA recognizes unique and authentic characteristics found in three essential components of all communities – streets, neighborhoods, and public spaces. APA Great Places offer better choices for where and how people work and live every day and are defi ned by many things including planning efforts, architectural styles, accessibility, and community involvement.
Since APA began Great Places in America in 2007, 40 Neighborhoods, 40 Streets and 30 Public Spaces have been designated in 47 states and the District of Columbia. For more information visit www.planning.org/greatplaces.
City departments cut budgets due to the economy
The economy has hit everyone hard. For the City of Lawrence, the decrease in assessed valuation on property in the city limits has meant reduced property taxes and revenues for the city. For 2011, the city chose to eliminate 10 currently vacant positions in several departments saving the city almost $500,000. Additionally, in the General Fund, departments reduced their non-personnel budgets by 2.5%, totaling just under $115,000. The city's departments chose various methods for reducing their operational budgets including reductions in travel, training and employee programs, and office supplies. Additional cost savings were identified by reducing contractual services and overtime. Several departments chose to cut costs on computer equipment, software and educational expenditures for employees.
City acquires former Farmland Industries site
Future use includes a business and industrial park
The City of Lawrence has now officially acquired the former Farmland Industries fertilizer plant located just east of Lawrence on K-10 Highway. The city acquired the facility as an additional site for industrial and business park expansion. The 467-acre site is a great location for growing our local economy to provide additional employment opportunities and an increased community tax base. Currently, existing places for larger businesses to expand or relocate to Lawrence are limited. One of Lawrence's strongest needs is to grow jobs located in our community.
The former Farmland facility is adjacent to K-10 and the existing East Hills Business Park. Additionally, the site includes a BNSF rail service, has contiguous acreage for larger businesses and sites, and has relative close proximity to utilities and infrastructure. City land use plans call for the use of this property as an industrial/business park.
The city received $8.5 million from the Farmland Trust for remediation efforts. The environmental remediation efforts are focused on the fact that the groundwater, soil, sediments and storm waters contain nitrate and ammonia levels that exceed the levels environmental regulators find acceptable.
Farmland Industries produced fertilizer, and essentially, the property has an overabundance of fertilizer compounds in it. While there will likely be restrictions on the redevelopment of the land that will likely prevent homes to be built on the site, and buildings with basements to be constructed there, the site conditions do not pose a danger to people visiting or working at the site.
Remediation efforts may take up to 30 years to complete; however, the city is already looking at demolishing several storage facilities and tanks over the next few months. This alone, will have a great impact on the entrance way to Lawrence from the east and start to show progress at the Farmland site.
The City's web site has more information available on the Farmland Property.
Visit www.lawrenceks.org/farmland for more information.
City and University build partnerships for community
The City of Lawrence and The University of Kansas have a long history of cooperation focused on their shared mutual interests in a strong and vibrant community. Outlined below are some of the coordinated
programs and projects that reflect our "town-gown" relationship.
The Bioscience and Technology Business Center (BTBC), on The University of Kansas West Campus in Lawrence, represents a unique partnership between local and state entities united to expand the economy by promoting bioscience and technology industries. The center combines the fundamental resources necessary to successfully grow start-up companies and collaborations.
The City and University also partner with the Lawrence-Douglas County Bioscience Authority to encourage growth of the bioscience sector in Lawrence and Douglas County.
In August 2009, the City of Lawrence Transit system and KU on Wheels launched the first coordinated route between the two transit systems. Over the course of the first year of cooperation, ridership on the T has increased by 19.9% from 2008 to 2009 and 974,125 fixed-route rides were provided through the coordinated system in 2009. A shared maintenance facility is under construction that will benefit both the City and University's transit fleet. The coordinated transit system was recognized in September 2010 as "Transit System of the Year" by the Kansas Public Transit Association. Lawrence's coordinated system also earned the Federal Transit Administration's Ridership Award for 2009.
The University of Kansas Housing Department provided $50,000 toward the purchase a ladder truck that will be housed at Station #5. The new ladder truck is being built now and will replace the existing ladder truck in the city's fleet. The close proximity of a ladder truck is beneficial to the University and can respond quickly if needed at one of the dormitories located just north of Station #5.