Community members rank proposed improvements for O.J. Watson Park


WICHITA, Kansas– Major improvements could be underway for the O.J. Watson Park, but before it could happen the city is asking for the community to help finalize the long list of improvements.

“These big changes are going to be made with our tax dollars,” said Greta Finley, concerned resident. “It’s important that we make these decisions.”

Some people sitting in a community facility room at O.J. Watson Park Saturday afternoon are hoping to revitalize their neighborhood park. 

“I do believe that with the right management that this park could pay for itself,” said Finley.

Greta Finley is just one of many attending the community meeting. She’s helping to finalize the proposed improvements.

“I would really like to see the focus this year be on the maintenance fundamentals and getting the foundations of the park in shape,” said Finley.

Getting the park in shape is one of the goals for park leaders. They have been working on the issue since last July.

“I’m real optimistic about how the input has been coming in with the data,” said Doug Kupper, Director of Parks and Recreation, City of Wichita.

Park leaders heard from the community last December on what kind of improvements they would like to see. They were able to break down the list to 11 priorities, which cost a combined total of almost $4 million dollars.

On the list of improvements: repairing the train, replacing the mini golf course, and adding an outdoor skating rink just to name a few.

“We asked them to package and vote for those packages,” said Kupper. “Put them in a priority of what’s most important to them down to the least important of things that don’t trigger them at all.”

Each person in attendance was handed a yellow survey asking them to rank the proposed improvements on a scale of 1 to 11 with 1 being the highest.

“Can we afford to do both at the same time?” said Kupper. “We would take it to the city council, seek their advice and approval.”

A committee made up of 7 community members will review the feedback. It will then be presented to the Park Board before going to the City Council sometime over the summer.

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