People who enjoy boating on the Arkansas River now have a new place to access the river.
A public use floating dock was installed recently on the river behind Gander Mountain in downtown Wichita.
The new dock was part of a long-time comprehensive plan by the Ark River Coalition and the city’s park board. The Wichita City Council adopted a resolution agreeing to allow for public use of the dock for the next decade.
The coalition has been working with Wichita’s park and recreation department on their Parks, Recreation and Open Space (PROS) Plan.
“Our initial effort was to get people on the water,” says Hoyt Hillman, a member of the coalition.
Hillmans says this is the first time that anyone has installed a permanent public use dock for year-round use on the river.
“If you are in a canoe or a kayak, you actually can hit the front edge of this dock and you will be able to paddle right on to this," says Hillman. "You can step out and walk in and with the elevated posts on either side, you have a handrail basically to get on and off the dock. “
The dock will still be usable whether water levels drop three or four feet or goes up by that amount. In fact, Hillman says the walkway could be flooded and the dock would still be attached for several feet.
Hillman says the floating dock is just upstream from their new boat bypass at the Lincoln Street dam.
“It is a wonderful whitewater experience if you are professional enough to go over the boat bypass, but if you’re not, there’s an easy way to get out," says Hillman. "So there’s a lot of opportunity for you to come down here and enjoy yourself and stay safe.”
The goal is to draw people to downtown Wichita for recreation and to keep the river clean.
“They’ll begin to see and understand the need to have a really nice clean river because they’ll see the trash and they’ll stop throwing things in the river," says Hillman. “Once they become aware of the needs of the river, then it becomes very obvious."
The Arc River Coalition has canoes and kayaks available for use at no charge. Boaters are welcome to join their scheduled floats.