Council members and activists react to proposed Riverfront plan without Century II

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WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) – The final plans for the Arkansas riverfront are out and they do not include century two. Tuesday night the Riverfront Legacy Master Plan Coalition unveiled its vision for the riverfront. Some are upset it gets rid of the iconic round blue roof in downtown.

A variety of Wichita city council members say they have been receiving a number of calls in regards to the proposal. Councilmember Brandon Johnson says if he had to vote today he would be in favor of the master plan.

“Our performing arts community and city deserve to have world-class performing arts. Our citizens have demanded more interactive green space by the river that also allows them to engage the river more and this gives us convention space that will attract better opportunities for our citizens,” said Johnson.

Meanwhile, other members like Councilman Jeff Blubaugh are wanting the coalition to do more due diligence on research.

“We definitely need to slam on the breaks pull back a little bit and make sure we are doing the other studies we need to do,” said Blubaugh.

One of the main concerns going around is about funding. The new plan comes with a hefty price tag. The final recommendation and the 17 projects are estimated to cost about $1 billion.

“I don’t know how the city can afford this. From some of the numbers, I’ve heard we’re looking at somebody threw out the number $1,000 for every man, woman, and child in Sedgwick County,” said councilman Blubaugh.

Jason Gregory, executive vice president for Downtown Wichita, says he views it as a long-term investment.

“This is looking 20 and 25 years into the future. In my mind, this our time as a community. We need to lean into this because we are setting expectations for the future.”

Meanwhile, the Save Century II group says they are not surprised that Century II was not saved in the final Riverfront Legacy Master Plan. However, they say after the meeting they saw an outpour of support.

They are still working on collecting a petition to create an ordinance to allow Wichitans to vote on whether or not Century II should be torn down. They want the public to decide, not city council members. They say they need to collect signatures from at least 25% of registered voters and tell KSN that numerous people visited their headquarters at 435 N. Broadway Street to sign.

“I think we had 500 signatures the first hour and a half that we were going. So, it’s going like hot potatoes. They wanna sign. They’ve had enough,” said Greg Kite, Save Century II member.

While the support is appreciated, the Save Century II group is warning of online scams asking for money.

“Those are false con jobs. Those are shams, and we don’t want the citizens in Wichita translating their great activism and support and flushing their money into someone else’s pockets,” said Kite.

Gregory says the coalition did their best to find a solution to save the building.

“We’ve looked at purposing it for those uses and others and at the end of the day its just not something we feel can be done,” said Gregory.

HOW TO SHARE YOUR INPUT:

If you are interested in signing the petition you can visit the Save Century II headquarters at 435 N. Broadway. They are open Tuesday and Thursdays 11 am -6 pm or Saturdays 10 am-2 pm. You can also find more information on their group by clicking here.

You can also share your input with the Riverfront Legacy Master Plan by emailing info@riverfrontlegacywichita.org before the proposal goes to the city council.

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