Wichita City Council to hear final four strategic planning studies

05/11/2014 10:19 AM

08/06/2014 12:13 PM

City Manager Robert Layton and his staff will present the final four strategic planning studies during a Tuesday workshop at City Hall.

The workshop will follow Tuesday’s regular 9 a.m. Wichita City Council meeting.

The final four topics include water supply planning, passenger rail, affordable housing and pavement preservation.

• Water supply planning – The council is already deep into the search for a 50-year water supply, with early recommendations leaning toward enhancing the groundwater recharge and recovery project northwest of Wichita with 30 new wells to increase water production capabilities and buying treated water from El Dorado Reservoir.

Another involves completing the two remaining phases in the recharge and recovery project, at an estimated cost of at least $300 million.

• Passenger rail – The council has endorsed a multistate effort to bring the Heartland Flyer passenger railroad through Wichita north to Newton.

Wichita is seeking up to $3 million in Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery grant funds to complete environmental studies on the Heartland Flyer route connecting Wichita with Oklahoma City on the I-35 corridor. The plan would close a 185-mile service gap from Oklahoma City to Wichita and could potentially connect the Heartland Flyer with the Southwest Chief, which now stops in Newton on its way to Kansas City.

Completing the environmental study would produce a “shovel-ready” project, making the return of rail service to the area eligible for more federal funding.

• Affordable housing – The council has long targeted urban blight and substandard housing as a focus, with an emphasis on encouraging housing construction and housing renovations in blighted areas.

Both would answer another problem the council wants to address: the damage to neighborhoods created by lots vacated when substandard housing is removed but not replaced.

• Pavement preservation – City public works officials have spent the past two years testing the most cost-effective methods to preserve and repair city streets, primarily as a budget-cutting vehicle.

Tuesday’s workshop is the second in a two-part series designed to give council members a price tag for what they consider necessary city improvements.

Last week, council members got a price tag of a little more than $800 million for an economic development fund, quality-of-life improvements to the city, improved bus service and a roof for every homeless Wichitan.

Plans call for decisions on the eight studies by the end of this month.

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