Will Wichita drill for oil under Century II?

Wichita (KSN File Photo)

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Wichita, Kansas — Got oil?

At least two companies hope there is oil under Wichita city land. City council leaders could have the option of allowing someone to drill under Century II for oil.

“I’m willing to keep and open mind to look at any sources of revenue that might be beneficial to the city,” says Wichita City councilwoman Janet Miller. “There’s no question that we still have financial issues that need dealing with.”

But Miller is not ready to sign on the dotted line.

“No,” says Miller. “Not yet.I also have some questions about potential odors and noises. I’d also like to know about other communities that have done this kind of drilling in their downtowns.”

KSN checked with Oklahoma City. That metro area has drilling rigs and oil pumpers on the river and even on the grounds of the state Capitol.

Oklahoma City officials say the city made nearly a million dollars two years ago from royalties on the oil wells owned by the city.

Wichita’s propsal would put a pumper very near the river downtown, on the edge of Delano.

Miller joined residents of the Delano district this week to hear more about the proposal.

“We knew it (the idea) came around about fifteen months ago and didn’t take it seriously. Didn’t think it would go anywhere,” says Karen Cravens of the Delano Neighborhood Association. “And all of a sudden we have a zoning change request.”

But don’t expect to see oil rigs and then pumpers any time soon next to Century II. The drilling would happen “horizontally” from across the river in Delano. Some in Delano say it would not be good for business in the area. She says it would also be close to the proposed new library for Wichita.

“Along with library, we expect to have some mixed (businesses) in those areas,” says Cravens “we could have shops and apartments along delano… But they aren’t going to go in next to a stinky oil well.”

Cravens says the proposed drilling site would also impact a proposed bike path that she says would be a good fit for Delano.

“They have told us this oil does not smell, which we are a little skeptical about,” says Cravens. “No one has yet been able to say that with a straight face.”

While Miller has some of the same concerns, she says she is keeping an open mind.

Some oil speculators say there is oil under the airport land as well as along 29th and Broadway.

The city council has not made any decisions, and no official proposal is being considered.

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