WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) – Chester I. Lewis Reflection Park at 205 East Douglas in downtown Wichita will be revitalized. Wichita Mayor Brandon Whipple announced that during his weekly mayor briefing Thursday morning.
The mayor said the park is a key area for the city’s growth with the new development in the area and represents a key for the civil rights movement in the city. In the coming days, the building immediately adjacent to the east boundary of the park will be demolished and a major portion of the site will be added to the park to increase the park size.
Chester Lewis was born in Hutchinson in 1929 and was the president of the Wichita chapter NAACP. He worked tirelessly to desegregate restaurants, swimming pools, aircraft companies, and local government agencies.
City council member Brandon Johnson said this development is exciting.
“We have been working to continue to develop downtown, and now, we have an opportunity with the new DO school and the culinary hospitality college to bring hundreds of new students, faculty, and administration to our continually growing downtown,” said Johnson. “Right now, the park is underutilized. We are going to change that not only through the aesthetics but programming that will happen here and especially having students who are in their own way are going to get an education to change this world seeing the memory and celebration of Chester Lewis.”
The family of Chester Lewis and the local branch of the NAACP are providing input on the project.
“Our family is very excited to be a part of this, thankful to the city of Wichita and architectures and Councilman Johnson for bringing us in on this important project to make sure that this is something we can share with the community and that is utilized with the youth and everyone who wants to enjoy the park for future generations to come,” said Malaika Bell, granddaughter of Chester I. Lewis. “He desegrated a lot of the places that we know here. Most of the people know about the Dockum sit-in here, that is one of many contributions that he had as a drum major for change here in Wichita.”
To get input, the city has launched a survey to gather input to ensure the area reflects the community’s values honoring the rich history of Lewis. You can take the survey here.