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Public gets first look at possible Wichita City Council district changes

  • The Wichita Eagle
  • Published Wednesday, August 29, 2012, at 9:10 p.m.
  • Updated Thursday, August 30, 2012, at 6:55 a.m.

One plan would split College Hill into two Wichita City Council districts. Another would stretch a district from downtown east to the Butler County line.

About 50 people got their first look Wednesday at three proposals for redrawing City Council districts boundaries.

John Schlegel, director of city and county planning, said 2010 Census figures show that five of the six council districts need to be redrawn to accommodate the new population figures. By law, he said, each of the six districts must be within 5 percent of the target of 63,728 people, which is a sixth of the city’s 2010 population.

District 3 in southeast Wichita has fewer than 58,000 residents, Schlegel said, while districts 2 and 5 in east and west Wichita have more than 71,000 residents each.

Schlegel said the commission that is redrawing the district boundaries is required to maintain “broadly cohesive areas of interest” while staying within the 5 percent limit. He said the first maps reflect the committee’s desire to ensure that each district has a mix of older and newer neighborhoods, and that each is in a position to grow in population over the next decade.

Several audience members asked questions or raised objections.

David Babich, a board member of Wichita Independent Neighborhoods, questioned the wisdom of combining new and older neighborhoods if the goal is to maintain areas of interest.

Beth King of College Hill questioned a proposal that would divide her neighborhood between two districts – one on the north side of Douglas and one on the south side.

Wendy Aylworth, who lives in south Wichita, said she doesn’t think it makes sense to have a south Wichita district that stretches north across Kellogg.

“Kellogg is natural boundary,” she said.

Schlegel told the group that the commission that is redrawing the districts will meet four times before presenting a recommendation to the City Council in late September. The maps and meeting times are posted of the city’s website, http://wichita.gov/CityOffices/Planning/Redistricting.htm.

Schlegel said that if a council member ends up living outside his or her district, he or she will stay in office through the end of his or her term.

Reach Hurst Laviana at (316) 268-6499 or hlaviana@wichitaeagle.com.

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