Riverfront legacy master plan developers looking for public input

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WICHITA, Kan. (KAKE) -

About 300 community members gathered at the Wichita boathouse downtown to voice their ideas on what the new riverfront should look like as a part of the riverfront legacy master plan.

Earlier in the month of July, Wichita city council members voted to hire designers to create the $700,000 dollar plan. Now, they are hoping the project will be built from visions of the community.

"We have to have an upgraded or new performing hall," said Wayne Bryan, producing artistic director for Theater Wichita. "We can't really go on and grow with what we currently have."

Bryan was one of the several people in attendance looking at projects from other cities that were placed around by the designers. Some were as close as Oklahoma City, others were as far away as Australia. The designers said that they were there to churn the communities minds.

"It helps get the ideas going of what's the possibilities when we look at creating our riverfront," said Jeff Fluhr, president of the greater Wichita partnership.

For some, their vision includes working off what's already in the city.

"They need to make sure they're connecting what we already have and what is already going on with this plan and don't just operate in a box," said Sharon Fearey, a Wichita resident for 66 years.

The reason they are asking for input is because there is no official plan set right now. So, it's a work in progress.

"Why are you just looking at a two or three block area?," said Hoyt Hillman, a Wichita park board and Ark River coalition board member. "Truly, a legacy plan is something that's going to last for years."

For Hillman that vision he wants to last for years includes having buildings face the river, while adding food options.

"I've been in town since 1953, and I'm still trying to get restaurants on the river," he said.

There were maps on tables with cut out pieces for those in attendance to move around and visualize what they want the project to look like. According to Fearey, the crowd size showed her people care.

"From the size of the crowd you can see there's a lot of excitement and hopefully it's a new day for Wichita."

Without those voices giving their opinions, developers said they have nothing to go off except other cities projects. So, they are urging those with ideas to come forward and let them be heard.

"We have to be bold, we have to think big and we are thinking that this is our legacy," said Darryl Kelly, Credit Union of America project manager. "This is for our kids and our kids, kids."

Kelly said it is an open process and more community engagement events will be held in the future.

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