Opinion Columns & Blogs

New train a good investment in south-side attraction

O.J. Watson Park, with fun amenities including a red miniature train as well as pedal boats and pony rides, stands out as a great community draw on the underserved south side of Wichita. The City Council will be investing in the quality of life it affords local families citywide by voting Tuesday to spend $300,000 on a new locomotive and passenger car and other park improvements. That would use up most of the $306,250 in the capital improvement program earmarked for Watson Park in 2015, but also end the costly repair of 31-year-old equipment. There were some doubts about the park’s future two years ago, before community meetings led to a master plan. But with the 50-year-old park in line for another $3 million in CIP spending over the next decade, perhaps including a zip line and outdoor movies, this attraction now is positioned to be around for more generations of Wichita families. Individual and business donors should be ready to help the Friends of Watson Park group and the Wichita Parks Foundation enhance City Hall’s efforts with private dollars. – Rhonda Holman