Jason Van Sickle hopes that soon there will be fewer pigeons leaving evidence of their presence on vehicles – and visitors – in the public garage at Old Town Square.
Pigeon mitigation is one of several improvements to the city-owned parking garage and parking around the square that Van Sickle thinks are needed.
“So many people are living and working in Old Town now … and that change has meant that parking has gotten frustrating for people wanting to shop and spend time and money in Old Town,” said Van Sickle, an apartment developer and volunteer president of the Old Town Association.
As far as the pigeon problem goes, the city is installing sheets of stainless steel placed at 45-degree angles on concrete posts inside the garage, where the birds tend to gather and nest, said Jay Newton, superintendent of fleet and facilities for the city. Newton said the cost of the project is about $10,000.
“We hope to have this work done by the end of the month,” Wichita city Manager Bob Layton said.
The city also plans to add more security fencing along the west side of the garage, Layton said. The fencing will plug openings in the garage through which rocks were being thrown. “There has been some vehicle damage because of rocks being thrown” through those openings, Layton said.
Newton said the cost of that work is about $20,000.
He said neither project required obtaining City Council approval.
“The dollar amounts are small enough we can do that out of the operating and maintenance budget, out of the parking system,” Layton said.
Van Sickle said he and a Wichita Downtown Development Corp. official, as well as a couple of Old Town business owners, met with Layton about a month ago to go “over a list of things I had been told by (business) owners in the Old Town area.”
“This was kind of the next step” after making Old Town an entertainment district earlier this year, which Van Sickle said has helped make the area safer.
Van Sickle said he’d next like to see the open surface parking stalls in the Old Town Square area – bounded by Second Street to the south, Third Street to the north, Mead to the east and the elevated railroad tracks to the west – converted to two-hour parking on weekdays from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
He said people who work in offices in the square and the district are parking there for the whole day, limiting access by shoppers to retailers in the square. He said the greatest density of retailers in Old Town is in the square.
“The most congested part of Old Town is Old Town Square,” Van Sickle said.
He said last week that a petition signed by about a dozen businesses in Old Town Square to change the parking there was delivered to City Hall. It also was an item that was brought to the attention of Layton.
“That was one that we have not taken follow-up action on yet,” Layton said, adding that the request is something “we’re going to continue to work through the winter.”