City looking for ideas to bring more people to O.J. Watson park

By: Parrish Alleman Email
By: Parrish Alleman Email

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Wichita, Kan. -- The city is looking for ways to save O.J. Watson Park. Earlier in the year, the park's special attractions were on the budget chopping block. Now the city is looking to not only keep those fan favorites, but maybe add some new ones. They want the public's input and ideas.

There's a lot to do at O.J. Watson park, from putt-putt and paddle boats to exclusive attractions like the miniature train and yellow brick road. But all of their attractions aren't attracting enough people or dollars.

"There's no idea too small, no idea too big for us to consider at Watson park right now,” City of Wichita Parks and Recreation Director Doug Kupple said.

It takes about $300,000 to operate Watson park but the park's attractions only bringing in about $150,000 in revenue. The rest is paid for by taxpayers. So the Parks and Rec department held a meeting Saturday asking people what they like about the park and what could make it better.

The ideas ranged from simple updates to old favorites to bringing in brand new attractions.

"It needs an update, it needs a freshness, the miniature golf it needs to be updated it needs to be modernized,” park supporter Martha Pint said.

"We've heard roller coaster. That'd be one heck of an investment but we're going to take a hard look at that one because we don't have one in Wichita now,” Kupper said.

The goal is to make a few changes that would have the park earning 100 percent of what it takes to operate by 2015.

People that already love the park say they hope the changes will keep it open for years to come.

"Really I'm looking forward to taking my kid here when he gets old enough to ride the ponies and we want to make sure the ponies are still here and the trains still here,” Rep. Brandon Whipple, (D) Wichita said.

The city plans to hold one more open community meetings in February. After that, they hope to present their final plan to city council in April.

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