WICHITA — A meeting of the Joint Committee on State Building Construction was canceled at the last minute Tuesday, but not before a sheet detailing a Department for Children and Families move was distributed.
"This is appalling," Rep. Jim Ward, D-Wichita and a committee member, says of the lease numbers he saw on the sheet.
Nine state agencies, including more than 700 employees, are leaving the city-owned Finney State Office Building. More than 550 of those employees are with the DCF.
In February, Have You Heard? reported that the DCF was close to signing a deal for space that the U.S. Postal Service is vacating at 2601 S. Oliver. A story last week detailed how the possible lease wasn’t as close to being finalized as some had thought.
"It's our intention to move into the postal service building," DCF spokeswoman Theresa Freed says. "The plan's not finalized, so as I mentioned before, we can't discuss the details of the pending contract."
She does say, though, that the DCF is negotiating to remain in the Finney building an extra nine months after its lease expires at the end of September.
"We've been very appreciative of the cooperation between our staff and the city of Wichita to make that happen," Freed says.
Ward is not appreciative of any part of the deal.
"They totally ignored the people of Wichita," he says of the "number of voices from Wichita that said this move doesn't make any sense."