Wichita Parks Department Thriving Amid Budget Cuts

By: Jared Cerullo Email
By: Jared Cerullo Email

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Wichita's parks and recreation department is reportedly doing well, despite tough economic times over the last year. as summer approaches, the city of Wichita is offering lots of new activities.

In fact, the city had to close down one park facility completely this year. You might remember that the Osage Rec Center closed down last December.

But things are looking up and now you can even pick up one of the city's new magazines and you'll certainly find something for you or your whole family to take advantage of.

"This is great," said one park visitor who flipped through the city's new guide. "This gives it all right there so you don't have to do all the searching."

There are so many new programs that the city has developed the new magazine guide that details all of the programs that parks and rec is offering this summer.

"In the last 10 weeks of our programming schedule, we had close to 800 new clients that signed up for new programs," said Parks & Recreation Director Doug Kupper.

You might be surprised to find there are home improvement classes, interior decorating classes and financial guidance... not to mention all of the youth activities you might normally expect to hear about.

"We had to get smarter about our partnerships," Kupper said. "Find other folks who are willing to use our facilities to educate our citizens in a wide variety of things."

"Always arts, cooking," said another park visitor when explaining what she would like to see. "We do tumbling and stuff like that, but we're always looking for new things just because they get tired of the same old thing, so we switch it around all the time."

Since the first of the year, parks and rec has taken in $52,000 more revenue than it did this time last year, serving a total of nearly 3,000 customers. The Wichita parks budget was cut by a million dollars in 2011.

"We have the old stalwarts, but we want to know what's new," Kupper said. "Rock climbing? Ok, we'll find an outlet for rock climbing. Parachuting? We'll find an outlet for parachuting. Home improvement. We're diversifying."

You can pick up the May edition of the magazine guide in the Sunday Wichita Eagle or at any park facility. Or you can check the city's website for an online version.

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