Officers present: Ted, Alison
Neighbors present: 7 Guests: 2
Ted called the meeting to order at 7:07 pm
Brian, from Landworks, an architect for the Lyons park spray pad project, spoke first. The city was here at a spring meeting to talk about the idea. He is here to give an update on the splash pad work. The idea has gone through a number of pubic processes, including a special use permit, and received comments, suggestions and improvements. They have a more detailed site design now, and he brought some visuals of the layout for us to look at.
Lyons Park is slated for the spray park, a renovation of the playground, and a renovation/replacement of the picnic shelter on site. All of the mature trees are being taken into consideration during this process.
Currently, the playground is going to move closer to the current parking area, rather than stay under the trees where it is now. It will be the front piece of this improvement. It is a year-round amenity. The spray park will move north to take advantage of the existing shade, and the mechanicals will be tucked back behind the shelter, but close enough to Lincoln Street to hook up to utility services. The renovated shelter will remain quite close to where it is today. The bathroom will remain where it is.
There will be new sidewalks running on the north side of Lincoln Street starting at 7th and there will be a weaving walk that connects South to North to Lyon Street as well.
They playground construction will start in fall of 2022. Blueprints for the spray park will be submitted by early fall for construction bids. Hopefully the feature will be constructed over winter 2022-23 and be open for summer 2023.
Brian also brought a mockup of different features proposed for the spray park that includes designs reminiscent of flowers, cattails, rocks, etc. Each of these elements will offer different water experiences. The features are activated by a pedestal and go in a sequence for a number of minutes before turning off.
This is a recirculating system where the water is filtered and treated before it comes back out of the holding tanks. The tanks are cleaned and sanitized and will be shut down for winter. There will also be naturalized (possibly limestone) seating around the spray park, like rocks, in the available shade.
Mark said that there is a RFP coming out shortly for the playground, being given to different construction companies. They will submit designs, and we should be able to see the proposals if we invite them back to a future meeting. There is an idea to have the playground and the spray park similarly themed.
A resident asked if the playground will be constructed before the spray park or if it would cause disruption of the spray park. Mark said that it depends on who responds to the RFP and who might be able to construct before the end of the year. There are no utilities needed to reconstruct the playground, but the supply chain for playground products is as limited as many other things are right now.
A resident asked how far the shelter will be from the new amenities, concerned about families attending the playground and the spray park who might use use the shelter as well. Brian said that keeping the shelter where it is provides the advantages of people knowing where it is, and when it is replaced in 2024, that work won’t disturb the park amenities that they are installing in 2023.
A resident pointed out that if the shelter is further from the new/updated amenities, it will be easier to rent out for separate/private events. Another resident asked if there will be conflicts around renting the shelter during the spray park season. Brian did not think so. Mark said it will possibly be the most popular shelter in the city to rent for an event once the spray park is in operation.
The parking lot entrance may receive and upgrade when the sidewalks are upgraded, and it will have bicycle parking installed.
A resident asked if this is the same company that did the spray pad in Burroughs Creek. It is not. The hours there are 9am – 8:30pm and it opened on July 6th of this year.
Mark said a number of basketball courts will be re-surfaced this year.
Ted said that Lyons park is a “regional” park, and John Taylor is a “neighborhood” park. These designations mean that funding comes from different budgets.
We almost didn’t get the funding for the shelter renovation. It had a tree fall on it recently, so there is now a dent in the roof. It is over 50 years old. We will have our neighborhood potluck picnic in the shelter the second Monday in September, 5:30 pm.
The proposed restrooms for John Taylor are coming in close to $130K now rather than $85K. NLIA will attempt to apply for funding or grants or some kind of help to get these constructed in 2023.
A resident asked if they could just keep the current playground equipment. Mark said that it is aged out and is from the 1980s and is also no longer supported (square post equipment) by the manufacturer. They will give a 15% discount to remove their old equipment if they win the bid.
A resident asked if the playground parts can be recycled — the metal could, but the plastic parts are difficult to recycle.
A resident noted that John Taylor Park (which is a neighborhood park) is used quite a bit and most folks who visit there wish there was a restroom nearby. Mark said that most neighborhood parks don’t have restrooms. John Taylor has a lot of volunteers for the garden and a lot of activities for which people drive from all over town to attend.
A resident asked if the bathrooms in Ballard were in a position to be accessible to the public who use the park. They are not, and it would be a security issue because of the preschool. The public is not able to enter the building without escort. There is not a way to make the current restrooms accessible from the outside without access to the rest of the building.
A resident asked about port-a-johns. The city said that these get vandalized, burnt down, and destroyed, much to the chagrin of the rental companies.
A resident asked if spray parks are all the same. They are not! They are usually done based on where they are being installed, even though some of the features and elements will be the same. This spray park will run just about $400K ($170-$220 per square foot). It will be maintained by the city Aquatics division.
Ted asked what the longevity of a spray park is. Most that are currently installed in the US are not any older than 15 years. The components don’t have a lot of wear and tear, and Brian said if the concrete is poured correctly, they can last for decades, as long as that 1980s play equipment, at least!
The spray park doesn’t require a fence, doesn’t require a life guard, and isn’t as much as a danger as, say, a wading pool. The city is responsible for maintenance, but there is no staffing issue the way there has been at the city pool.
Ted asked about bringing tennis back to North Lawrence. There was some commentary about pickle ball noise vs tennis court noise and some speculation about where we could put new tennis courts in North Lawrence without removing existing basketball courts.
Ted talked about the difference between necessities and accessories — street repairs vs parks, for example. Even when the city gets a windfall or extra money from sales taxes, that doesn’t mean there is extra money for accessories. (We are seeing this fight right now at city hall with the proposal to shut down Prairie Park! Come to the July 12 meeting to voice your opinion on this!)
A resident said we NEED parks and recreation in our lives because it provides opportunities for the public to get outside safely and have access to recreational activities throughout the community.
Kirsty is getting ready to start meeting neighbors and talking to them about our new SURVEY. The survey will be done in person and avaialbe online on our website and on Facebook. She asked how many households we have — we believe there are around 1300-1500 houses and 3200 residents now in North Lawrence.
Ted said we were a slum-blighted neighborhood in 1996. IN the early 2000s, we were considered low-income. We moved to low-to-moderate in 2018, and we got disqualified from federal money that year because that number fell to 41% from 51%.
North Lawrence businesses supply the bulk of the donations for our Christmas fund. During the pandemic the amount that many businesses were able give actually increased, from $5500 in previous years to $6500! It’ll be interesting to see how fundraising goes in 2022. Since we no longer have federal funding, we are looking for ways to raise money for our operating costs (which are minimal) and for events like our picnic and chili supper. The city gave four other neighborhoods a few thousand during the pandemic, but North Lawrence didn’t get that.
We ceased our newsletter and our postcards once we lost federal funding. Each run of the newsletter cost around $1000 before the pandemic. The postcard reminders about NLIA events cost around $500 per mailing. The chili supper usually generated $500 per year in free-will donations; the picnic generated only yearly membership revenue. Membership rose from $1 per year to $5 per year per person once we lost our federal funding. We do have the hamburger cookout during the garage sale that raises some money for NLIA.
We are going to launch a neighborhood survey soon, available online and available on paper, going out to each household in North Lawrence. Responses will be gathered and information tallied into a report. That information will go to NLIA as well as the city commission and city planners. This is a chance for residents to talk about their current concerns and ideas for the future of the neighborhood.
A neighbor talked about different fundraising ideas for the neighborhood, including small two-on-two basketball tournaments and craft shows with homemade goods. Ted has suggested having a car show at the depot. This may happen in fall of 2022. We also have a local artist, Stan Herd, with a studio in North Lawrence. Stan is interested in holding a local artist show and sale at the depot, some proceeds from which will benefit NLIA. Stan is also willing to re-do the design on the levee if we get enough volunteers to help him!
Ted says the depot is underused since Explore Lawrence moved downtown; the building is locked up most of the time. He’d like to see the depot become a destination again. It’s confusing to visitors that it is no longer the visitor center! A resident asked if the plan to have a band play at the depot is still in the works. Ted says yes, it should be this fall, and parks and recreation is on board with the idea.
Ted still wants a museum display about North Lawrence and Jefferson, KS in the depot that will draw visitors. The display would need to be staffed a few hours a day on a regular basis. The city owns and manages the building and the grounds (the railroad still owns the property).
Ted will hold a meeting in August, Monday, August 8th at 7pm, Peace Mennonite Church. (Alison may be out of town.)
The potluck picnic will be Monday, September 12th at the Lyons park shelter, 5:30pm.
We did the drawing and Ted adjourned the meeting at 8:33pm