City hoping pedestrian plans are a walk in the park

03/02/2014 7:59 AM

03/02/2014 7:59 AM

Wichita is moving toward making walking more comfortable, safe and convenient for pedestrians, and the public will be able to weigh in this year on improvements they’d like to see.

Wichitans also will see better access to Great Plains Nature Center and efforts to get more disadvantaged children playing baseball in 2014.

For walkers, a Wichita Pedestrian Master Plan is in the works to serve as a guide for the city on policies and designs related to walking.

“We’re about halfway through the planning process,” city senior planner Scott Wadle said. The public’s next best chance to weigh in will be at an open house in April. The effort will be looking not only at sidewalks but at intersections, crosswalks and driveways. You can find more information online at www.wichita.gov/Government/Departments/Planning/Pages/Pedestrian.aspx.

For the Great Plains Nature Center, Wichita has received a grant from the Federal Lands Access Plan to put a bike path along Oliver to K-96 to make the center more accessible, said the city’s parks and recreation director, Doug Kupper. The federal government owns the center. The city will have to pay about 20 percent of the cost, Kupper said, and the project is supposed to be done by late summer.

The city also will be partnering with the nonprofit League 42 to improve baseball offerings for Wichita kids, Kupper said. The city will participate with League 42 in planning for and implementing improvements to ballfields where the kids can play, starting in McAdams Park, near 13th Street and I-135, he said.

“We’re anxious to help them rejuvenate youth baseball,” Kupper said. “We’re just trying to see how many kids they can attract ... and grow from there.”

Among other city recreation offerings, a new fitness center at Linwood Recreation Center, 1901 S. Kansas, is expected to open this spring, and improvements will be made to Buffalo Park, 450 N. Maize Road, including an interactive water feature for kids and a new picnic shelter, Kupper said.

Still on the back burner is improving access for neighbors to North Chisholm Creek Park, off the west side of Woodlawn north of K-96. Last year’s federal-government sequester delayed a decision on the city’s application for a National Recreational Trails grant to pave a walkway to the park, Kupper said.

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