As our focus turns to spring in a new year, the city of Wichita is at a crossroads.
Once again, our community has proven our resiliency during the past economic challenges, and our confident vision of an even better Wichita in the future remains intact.
It is appropriate to celebrate the community’s past accomplishments and to review the many great things that will happen in 2013. However, in doing so, we must not lose sight of our greater duty: our duty to plan for and prepare a Wichita for future generations.
The city continues to partner with Sedgwick County and the state of Kansas to provide affordable airfares to residents and businesses alike. These efforts will pay huge dividends in 2013, as Southwest Airlines is scheduled to take off in Wichita for the first time on July 2. In addition, to better serve the air traveling public for decades to come, a new modern terminal building will begin rising from the ground in 2013.
Wichita residents are justifiably proud of our street and freeway system; with it, we have some of the shortest commute times in the country. Things will improve even more in the future. Soon, a new bridge will begin stretching over the floodway, providing another connection to west Wichita. With funding secured from the state, a new interchange at Webb Road and Kellogg will be started within 12 months. By 2020, new Kellogg interchanges at Interstate 235 and Greenwich Road will be completed.
The Heartland Readiness Center is rapidly rising in north Wichita. This center represents a partnership with the National Guard and will consolidate Guard units from across the community. In addition, utilizing the synergies possible with a shared location, the center is designed to include a new law enforcement training facility in the future. It will support our public safety and national defense efforts in an efficient, collaborative and modern way.
Downtown continues to grow and flourish. Last year, $100 million in new projects were completed, and another $115 million are planned for 2013. These include the new Robert D. Love YMCA, a new Kansas Leadership Center, new apartments on the West Bank and other residential units such as The Lux. A revitalized downtown, once just a dream, is gaining momentum and rapidly becoming a reality.
Even more important than reviewing the many things planned for 2013, leadership demands that our vision extend not just to 2013 but also to the kind of Wichita we will leave future generations. In partnership with Sedgwick County and Wichita State University, we will begin the process of surveying the community to determine the appropriate vision for Wichita through 2035 and beyond. This planning initiative and community engagement exercise is dependent upon feedback from area residents; if you receive a survey, I encourage you to share your voice and help plan our community’s future.
We accomplished much in 2012, and I look forward to even greater things in 2013, with your help. We have been resilient through past economic challenges, and we are confident that the future will bring even better days to our city. Together, with a shared purpose and vision, we can build a better Wichita for decades to come.