Just when composite boardwalks at Old Cowtown Museum were supposed to be going in, now they are out.
Wichita City Manager Robert Layton decided last week that the symbolic wood boardwalks would remain.
In March, a controversial $804,000 composite wood and concrete project was approved by the Wichita City Council — and later approved by Cowtown’s board of directors.
But volunteers and re-enactors at Cowtown protested.
“The wooden boardwalks at Cowtown offer authenticity matched nowhere else in the United States, maybe the world,” Leo Kiesling, a volunteer and gunfighter at Old Cowtown Museum told The Eagle last month.
John D’Angelo, director of Wichita’s Arts and Culture Department, which oversees Cowtown, said the project initially was to make Cowtown compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act by using sand-colored concrete on pathways and composite wood on the boardwalk.
D’Angelo said Thursday that the sand-colored concrete on pathways has already been done.
The composite wood was originally decided on because it would last longer than the wood boards and was easier to maintain through the years.
“We went through a couple of review processes, and we will stay with the wood,” D’Angelo said. “It is cheaper. The grounds of the museum and the artifacts of the museum is something the city is supportive of — we feel this is the best decision.”
Cowtown, 1865 Museum Blvd., is a living history museum that portrays frontier life in Kansas over a two-decade era from the 1860s to the 1880s.
But D’Angelo has said in the past that each week workers replace wooden boards that have rotted and hammer down nails that have popped up. The composite was to help cut down on some of that work.
The last-minute decision pleases Kansas historians.
“I think that’s a pleasant result after what seemed to be some confrontation going on,” said Jim Gray, cowboy historian and director of the National Drovers Hall of Fame in Ellsworth. “I would just say it is a good move. I think it is the right decision.”