August 30, 2014

Plans for Sedgwick County Park would take people down memory lane

A proposal has been made to craft what’s being called a memory park inside the sprawling county-owned space. The idea is to add objects along a path that parkgoers might want to gather around and then snap a photograph.

Sedgwick County Park may soon have more spaces perfect for making photo memories.

Plans are underway to craft what’s being called a memory park inside the sprawling county-owned space at 6501 W. 21st St. North, thanks to a community initiative known as Together Wichita 2014.

The idea, said Heather Denker, project manager for Together Wichita 2014, is to add objects along a path that parkgoers might want to gather around and then snap a photograph.

Think grinning toddlers posing with an antique tractor. Or high school students leaning against a fence post for senior photos. Or Grandma kissing Grandpa’s cheek as they sit on a hay bale.

“Our board is excited about the possibility of this project and gifting the community a new space to create lasting memories in Wichita,” Denker said. Together Wichita 2014 is a community campaign supported by 22 local companies and organizations that is aimed at celebrating and enhancing the city by bringing residents’ civic improvement projects to life.

The group is also responsible for the the “I live here, I love it!” campaign and the Keepers on Parade public art project, which aims to place dozens of 10-foot fiberglass replicas of the Keeper of the Plains statue across Wichita.

The memory park idea “was really kind of naturally born. No one has seen this anywhere else,” Denker said.

“But we were thinking about the piece of our mission about creating lasting memories … and doing that in one little park here.”

As of Sunday, the memory park was still in its planning stages, and Together Wichita 2014 is now looking for suggestions from the public about what types of objects they would like to see used as photo backgrounds in the park. Denker said that, ideally, the items would be quintessential Kansas objects or otherwise tied to Wichita or Sedgwick County and would blend in with Sedgwick County Park’s natural setting.

The initiative has been in recent talks with county staff members, who have suggested six locations for objects or groupings of objects along a path in the northwest corner of Sedgwick County Park, Denker said. After Together Wichita 2014 decides what items it wants to place in the park, the proposal will be taken to the Sedgwick County Commission for final approval.

Assistant County Manager Ron Holt said the proposal will be presented to commissioners “with a high recommendation from staff.”

“It does not take away from the regular use of the park and, in fact, would give it a little more enhancement for people,” Holt said of the memory park. He said he didn’t expect the county to incur any costs from the project beyond routine upkeep.

“We’re very excited about being able to do this,” he said.

Anyone interested in offering feedback about the memory park proposal or who have an object to donate can contact Denker at 316-371-7377 or heather@togetherwichita2014.com.

For more information about Together Wichita 2014, visit its website, www.togetherwichita2014.com.

Reach Amy Renee Leiker at 316-268-6644 or aleiker@wichitaeagle.com. Follow her on Twitter: @amyreneeleiker.

Seeking ideas

Together Wichita 2014 continues to seek suggestions from the public for community enhancement projects. You can share an idea by going to www.togetherwichita2014.com and clicking on the “Submit your ideas” button.

Heather Denker, the initiative’s project manager, is also accepting feedback on the proposed memory park and other projects at 316-371-7377 and at heather@togetherwichita2014.com.

“All of the projects that we’re doing center around building community pride and leaving a lasting impression,” she said.

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