Commentary
5:00 am
Fri March 30, 2012

Richard Crowson: Taking The Long View

Ah, yes—delayed gratification. I remember it well.

Back in the days before we live on 5-hour Energy drinks, triple-shot Starbucks lattes and the irresistible urge to text while we drive, we were sometimes willing to wait a bit in order to obtain something worthwhile.

I was recently reminded of some of Wichita’s visionary leaders of the past as I drove down Kellogg. I’m talking about the kind of leadership that concerns itself more with the long-term public good instead of handing out quick-fix, instantly gratifying lollipops like tax cuts and such.

When you drive down Kellogg, I urge you to try to pull your attention away from your cell phone long enough to glance around a bit. Over there along the edges of the highway you may notice the pleasant results of the efforts of a former Wichita City Manager by the name of Chris Cherches.

Kellogg is not what it used to be. Where once there were stoplights, access road crossings, changing speed limits, and roadside landscapes that alternated between the barren and the gaudy, today there are long stretches of park-like green spaces. The pear trees have been blooming gloriously. The redbuds burst into splashes of magenta. The greening shrubs and grasses along the artfully designed walls on either side of Kellogg, and a variety of ornamental blossoming trees whose names I do not know, all combine to create a softened landscape.

From 1985 until 2003, Chris Cherches was Wichita City Manager. He passed away in 2004. But his conviction that good design makes better communities—and that aesthetics matter—is in full bloom for all Wichitans to enjoy today. Along with long-time mayor Bob Knight, the Wichita City Council and Parks Department head Frank Smith, Mr. Cherches taught us that gratification isn’t always instant. Sometimes, it’s worth the wait—orange barrels and all.