Virtually all of the towns surrounding Wichita showed strong growth in the latest census, with some more than doubling in size in the past 10 years.
With the exception of tiny Willowbrook (pop. 87), a suburb of Hutchinson, Goddard is the fastest-growing city in the entire state. It more than doubled its 2000 population of 2,037 to 4,344 in 2010 — a 113 percent increase.
On the other side of Wichita, Andover also burgeoned, adding 76 percent more people — 5,093 — for a total of 11,791 residents in 2010.
Strong schools, a continued movement to the suburbs and close proximity to a growing-outward Wichita all combined to fuel the growth in the neighboring towns, said Jeremy Hill, director of the Center for Economic Development and Business Research at Wichita State University.
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The addition of NewMarket Square on the west side of Wichita in 2001 helped bring people not only to Goddard but to Maize (up 83 percent in population) and Valley Center (up 40 percent), Hill said. He said that those three cities, along with Andover and Derby (up 24 percent), were attracting young upper-income families looking for strong schools, shopping and recreational amenities.
He said that Haysville (up 27 percent), Mulvane (up 18.5 percent), Bel Aire (up 16 percent), Rose Hill (up 14.5 percent), Clearwater (up 14 percent), and Colwich (up 8 percent) had in the past 10 years attracted people who were more mixed in age and families that were often more established. These people were looking for a better house at a lower cost and were also trying to live closer to work, Hill said.
Andover Mayor Ben Lawrence said that the 76 percent growth rate there was higher than city officials had expected. He said that while "we get our fair share of people moving out of the Wichita area," he learned that people moving to the area for work were being pushed toward Andover by real-estate agents working for large employers in Wichita.
"Andover's a pretty nice town to live in," Lawrence said. "We have a lot of public amenities, and it's clean and safe.... We have one of the best school systems in the state." He also said that residents could enjoy all the benefits of Wichita without living there.
He said that taxes were higher to cover the schools but that Andover was able to help balance that by requiring housing developers to pay impact fees for improvements such as arterial streets and utilities.
"The developers don't like that, but that's how we keep taxes low. We are pretty unique in that regard," Lawrence said. He also said that developers were required to donate space for parks.
Recent improvements in Andover include a new YMCA and a new public library complete with coffee bar.
Goddard, on the other hand, has not had much of a business boom. But it does have the lowest mill levy in western Sedgwick County with the exception of Viola, Mayor Marcey Gregory said.
"We have very good schools and very good teachers, so I think that has driven a lot of the residential growth," Gregory said. "We've been working toward keeping costs low so it's an affordable place to live." She and the City Council are also working to attract business, she said. One recent addition has been Sugar Baker's, a European-style bakery that sells cream puffs and eclairs in addition to cupcakes and cakes.
But with the growth come demands, Goddard Police Chief Sam Houston said. The number of police calls from 2009 to 2010 skyrocketed 300 percent, he said. It did not mean an increase in crime, he said, but in calls for service from people, say, locked out of their car or reporting a suspicious character.
Kellogg runs right through town with a speed limit of 50, and the number of accidents also has jumped — from 12 in 2005 to 72 in 2010.
"When you look at the accidents, they're all along Kellogg, at the individual intersections," Houston said. Speed and inattention are the causes for the accidents, he said. "Goddard's kind of unique: We have a large transient population" with 30,000-some cars driving through on Kellogg each day.
Among other Wichita-area cities with strong growth are Kechi, up 84 percent in population, to 1,909, and Park City, up 26 percent to 7,297.
Wichita itself grew to 382,368 residents, an increase of 11 percent.
To find decreases in population requires going farther south of Wichita: Wellington lost 6 percent of its residents, and Belle Plaine 2 percent. To the east, Douglass had a 6 percent decrease and Potwin 2 percent.
There's one exception: Within Wichita, Eastborough shrunk by 53 residents to 773 people, a 6 percent decrease.