Special Reports

Downtown Wichita planners seek broader feedback

The first of eight public meetings concerning Wichita's new downtown development plan is set for tonight.

Designers want feedback and input from residents outside of the downtown area on their preliminary 20-year master plan revealed last month. Tonight's meeting is at 7 at the Atwater Neighborhood City Hall, 2755 E. 19th St.

"We've had some great turnout at other events and meetings, but most of those people have a direct interest in the downtown," said Ben Carlson, a planner and designer for Goody Clancy, the consultants hired to craft the master plan. "What we want to do now is take this to reach a larger region."

About 350 people attended a meeting to introduce the plan on June 14. The community meetings continue through July 21.

Carlson said those attending the meetings will receive a brief presentation of the plan, then break into smaller groups.

"We want to give everyone the opportunity to be heard," Carlson said.

Those groups will start with three questions:

* In what ways is downtown important to you now?

* What new or expanded opportunities do you want to see downtown?

* How do you feel about the proposal for implementing the plan?

"Basically, we want to know, are we missing something? Where do we need to focus? And where do we need to start?" Carlson said.

The plan proposes a dozen niche districts within downtown, including Old Town, the arena, Century II, Commerce Street Arts and the Arkansas River.

A final downtown development plan is expected to be released in the fall.