WICHITA, Kansas – Confusion at City Hall who owns the land for Clapp Golf Course and who is behind the possible deal in the works to sell off part of city land for a commercial venture.
KSN has been collecting the details to get to the bottom of an issue.
KSN knows a developer wants to purchase land at the corner of Harry and Oliver for a business venture.
City leaders say they really don’t know what’s going on with the process that’s being handled by the Wichita Parks and Recreation Department and don’t know what developers want to do with the land.
Mayor Carl Brewer spoke to KSN right after a city council workshop.
He says the city council is in no way shape or form involved with the potential development deal over at Clapp.
“As far as whether it’s QuikTrip, or not, we don’t know if its QuikTrip,” said Brewer. “I can tell you in all honesty, city council members have no idea because that has not been a discussion, that’s a discussion that’s happening with the park board.”
It is a discussion that the mayor and council members say they have not been a part of because it is still early in the game.
“It hasn’t made it our table yet because the fact that we don’t get involved in park land and those types of things until park board tells us this is what we’re interested in,” said Brewer.
Here is how the process works.
KSN learned a big name developer reached out to the city’s real estate administrator saying the firm is interested in turning that piece of land at Clapp Golf Course into a commercial development.
That request was shared to the Park Advisory Board, which is made up of seven members, unpaid volunteers who were appointed by a city council member.
The board is in charge of managing all city parks, recreation centers, and golf courses.
Parks and Recreation actually owns all that land, not the city, so they can make any decision they want to regarding the land.
In this case, it would eventually go to the council chambers, because the council needs to approve any zoning change to turn land into commercial use.
“Anyone can actually go to any of these bodies, and they can take anything to them that they want, and it still has nothing to do with us until it actually comes to our desk,” said Brewer.
Again, the city doesn’t actually have to approve the sale of park land.
That’s because any park land that was acquired before 1990 is controlled completely by the Parks and Recreation Board.
KSN started looking into this story two weeks ago when we heard a rumor that part of Clapp Golf Course was going to be purchased.
That had KSN wondering if the city had opened an official bidding process.
The process hadn’t started yet, and it would eventually go up for bids.
Since city officials say they have no real say in the sale of the land, we decided to dig deeper and, see how council members feel about the issue.
Generally, the city council has a say in what happens, but in the matter of Clapp, members have been rather quiet.
It was a good reason.
They don’t have control of it.
“The deed to the property is deeded to the park board so they have control and ownership of the property, the city of Wichita doesn’t, so they will be making the ultimate decision on whether or not to accept an offer,” said James Clendenin, Wichita City Council Member.
That’s due to City Of Wichita Charter Ordinance No. 125 passed in 1990.
It states the following:
“No title or any interest in such property shall be transferred, encumbered, or disposed of except by action of the Board of Park Commissioners.”
In short, the park board decides what happens to any park land bought before 1990.
Council members say there’s more to the story.
“As far as we know, that’s the way it’s looked at, but ultimately, it probably will come back to the city council as a matter of property being sold,” said Lavonta Williams, Wichita City Council Member.
The city council would need to be involved if the property is bought and turned into a commercial venture, rumored to be a QuikTrip because it would have to be re-zoned.
But council member James Clendenin says there’s no need for alarm and that residents will be able to give their input before anything is set in stone.
“Nothing has been officially offered. There’s been a lot of numbers that have been floating around and that has kinda muddied the waters a little bit as far as the public thinking that something is actually happening, so we should know by the park board’s February meeting.
It’s also important to note that any property that is under the Parks and Recreation Department after that ordinance is owned by the city of Wichita.
It means city approval is needed for it to be sold.
If you would like to have your voice heard on the issue, the next Parks and Recreation meeting is set for February 10th at 3 p.m. on the 11th floor of Wichita City Hall.