City manager responds to BCNA

Tom Markus, Lawrence city manager, attended the October BCNA meeting and answered residents questions.  He checked into some of these questions and emailed back responses.

The following is the issue and answer from the varying city departments.

  1. At the end of 12th and Prospect the road surface is both rough and very narrow which causes traffic flow problems.

[Mike Perkins] Streets in the neighborhood are narrow with limited pavement structure and open drainage, it will take a new road design and reconstruction to improve the width of the roadway and improve low volume traffic flow.  The Street Division has made several pavement patches in the area and will complete patching in the area this fall as a stop gap until contract pavement improvements can be made.

  1. Ditch maintenance throughout the neighborhood needs to be monitored for continuous maintenance.

[Matt Bond] Although the City is responsible for keeping the road side ditches clear if they become silted in, the adjacent property owner is responsible for basic mowing and upkeep.  This is similar to property owners maintaining the right of way adjacent to their house without ditches.  Typically the cleanout of the ditches requires all of the neighbors along the ditch agreeing to a cleanout.  Ponding water in front of one house more than likely requires that the entire ditch be regraded in front of multiple homes.  This means that grass that has been established is removed and ditch side slopes change.  So simply regarding the ditch to drain isn’t as simple as it seems.

  1. Brook Creek Park:  Are pesticides or herbicides being used? 

[Ernie Shaw] No… this is a park that is on the IPM program that does not have pesticides/herbicides used –Pesticide free park.

  1. Are herbicides being used in the cemetery especially in front of the headstones? 

[Ernie Shaw] Yes – Cemeteries are not in IPM program – chemical trimming around headstones has been done for the past 10 years, this is more cost effective than employing a trim crew during the mowing season.

  1. A neighbor at 1412 Prairie Ave has complained of erosion problems on and adjacent to her property. 

This was address with the neighbor and landlord of property.


  1. We should rock armor the bottom of Brook Creek so that it does not create stagnant pools which are major mosquito attractors.

[Ernie Shaw]Rip Raping the ditch has been discussed in the past with PW Storm Water Division but has not been a priority. [Matt Bond] Armoring the channel bottom of Brook Creek will not eliminate the so called stagnant pools.  It is more than likely this will cause even more pockets of standing water.  If the channel begins to incise or head cut (the channel bottom begins to drop) then grade control structures will be constructed.  The addition of rock along this relatively flat channel will also cause cavitation of the adjoining stream banks and cause additional erosion issues. 

  1. In Boroughs and Cemetery it appears that the parks crews cut the area planted with wildflowers and sapling trees to soon so as to kill off the wild flowers and the trees.  PR was accused of mismanaging the maintenance of these areas.

[Mark Hecker] The issue that Michael is talking about happened 13-15 years ago when the Burroughs Creek restoration project took place. The areas were seeded to native grass, wildflowers and tree samplings were installed as the project was completed. Over the first year or two the area became very weedy with undesirable species.   And Yes, a well-meaning City crew mowed the area (it was not Parks & Rec) which eliminated most of the original tree saplings and some of the desirable grass and flower species.

Our current management is to mow this area seasonally, and try to control the noxious weeds where possible.  The main thing that needs to be considered is the high water flow though this area during large rain events. Traditional native grass plantings will not hold up to this level of soil moisture and water movement. If desired, and with the assistance of Matt Bond, we could try to reestablish some of the tree sampling outside of the main channel.

  1. Facebook page for Parks and Rec needs to be updated for good advance notice for upcoming events and classes.

[Ernie Shaw]  Not really sure what they are wanting or how we can do more with present staff.  We post upcoming activities and programs with multiple posts every day (usually 5-7 times a day on Facebook). We maximize the 24-hour cycle to best reach the greatest number of people, targeting the peak times of when people are on Facebook.  We also post program status on days when there is inclement weather, which is usually a few hours before the program when decisions are made to cancel.  Going forward, once we get the new calendar feature on the web, we can publicize it, providing people a full list of programs.


  1.     Another concern that was raised at the Brook Creek NA was from a gentleman who complained about garbage cans and our inability to keep them out of the front yard.  I believe this issue has been raised before.  What if any policy currently exists and have we considered this in the past?

[Scott McCullough]There is a letter that Code Enforcement leaves on the trash cart itself or within the front door of a property when a complaint is submitted and a violation is confirmed.  We have versions of the letter for different trash pickup days.  This soft approach is usually successful in correcting the occasional violator.  If a habitual violator is present, then we would submit a complaint through the court.


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