City To Transform Donated Land In Northwest Wichita Into Wetlands Park

Sep 7, 2015

Credit Hugo Phan

A large plot of land near the intersection of 29th Street and Maize has been donated to the City of Wichita. As KMUW’s Sean Sandefur reports, the plan is to use it for wetlands preservation.

For about a century, roughly 72 acres in northwest Wichita was farmed by the Pracht family.

Sitting on the southeast corner of Maize and 29th streets, the land has since been sold to Slawson Companies, with plans for a commercial property with retail space and restaurants.

But Slawson is honoring a request by the Pracht family that a portion of the land be preserved. The new owners gifted 41 acres to the City of Wichita. The donated land is adjacent to wetlands and stormwater ponds that the city already owns, called Cadillac Lake.

The city has about $1 million to transform the area into a wetlands park, according to Wichita Parks and Recreation Director Troy Houtman.

“It’s a little bit different than all of our other parks, which are open green spaces with tennis courts and swimming pools,” Houtman said at a recent Wichita City Council meeting. “This is more of a passive park—it’s going to be used for educational purposes and will [bring attention] to the environment.”

Houtman said the future park could feature trails, boardwalks and viewing areas. Instead of the park sitting in the shadow of the planned commercial property, it will be designed to embrace the wetlands, Houtman added.

The land will also be used to help with stormwater drainage.

According to city documents, an estimated $806,400 will be spent on infrastructure for stormwater retention in the area, of which the city will pay no more than 24 percent—or $193,536. The rest will be paid for by Slawson.

According to the City of Wichita, the project has support from the Cowskin Creek Watershed, Wichita Audubon Society, Kansas Wildlife Federation, the Nature Conservancy of Kansas, the Kansas Chapter of the Wildlife Society and the current and former directors of the Great Plains Nature Center.

The project is subject to the approval of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

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Follow Sean Sandefur on Twitter @SeanSandefur.

 

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