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Wichita council to vote on tax incentives, memorials and dog parks

WICHITA -- Four prominent commercial developments could inch forward, dogs in northwest Wichita could get some more leash-free territory and a skateboarding park could take on the name of one of its best supporters during this morning's City Council meeting.

Council members are poised to vote on whether to give property and sales tax incentives to developer Rob Snyder to help him finance a Save-A-Lot grocery store in Planeview. One move would let the store charge an extra 2 percent sales tax on things sold in the store and use the money to pay for a wide variety of expenses. The other would create a tax increment finance district where the increment of property tax growth created by the development would be returned to Snyder each year to help him pay off the bank loan he takes out to build the store.

Meanwhile, council members will vote whether to grant similar 2 percent sales tax incentives for Maize 54, the development group that hopes to build a sprawling commercial area and bowling center called Bowllagio on the northeast corner of Kellogg and Maize.

Council members expect some public debate on those issues.

They also plan to set a public hearing for a 2 percent sales tax for Drury Southwest, which is spending millions to renovate the Broadview Hotel in downtown Wichita.

Changes to plans for Wichita's long-awaited WaterWalk are also on the council's agenda.One move would set aside $350,000 to hire artist Albert Paley to design and construct a sculpture at the corner of Main and Waterman. The city also has another $300,000 budgeted for other work at that corner.

Another vote would adopt a slightly altered master plan, which moves the Waltzing Waters interactive water fountain toward the middle of the WaterWalk area at developers' request. The fountain has been sitting in storage for years as the project has slowly progressed.

Another council decision could lead to a new, $170,000 dog park atop a closed and capped former landfill at 21st Street and Meridian.

Council members also plan to rename Edgemoor skate park to honor Ryan Woodward, a 15-year-old skateboarder who frequently rode at city skate parks, helped clean them up and encouraged other riders to respect the parks. Woodward died after being struck by a car on his way to Edgemoor Skate Park in 2009.

That park would become Ryan Woodward Memorial Skate Park if the council approves.

The council also is expected to vote on a plan for a privately financed memorial to former city manager Chris Cherches in front of the CityArts building in Old Town. Cherches died in 2004.

Shortly after the meeting starts at 9 a.m., council members expect to hear complaints from at least one man who says Wichita police are unfair to the homeless. For more about that, see The Eagle's previous work: http://www.kansas.com/2010/08/22/1456787/homeless-man-claims-police-are.html.

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