Delano residents hope library plans include lots of green space

WICHITA, Kansas – As the city continues to develop its plan for a new central library, residents in Delano say they are hoping the plan matches their vision for the community.

Residents there say they are excited to see that the city is looking to build the new central library in their backyard, but are hoping there’s still enough of that green space for them to enjoy.

“One of our green spaces is part of the library property and so we’re looking to see the properties we’re looking at so we’re trying to shift our plans around to accommodate the library plans and see what’s going on as we both move forward,” Karen Cravens, of the Delano Neighborhood Association, said.

Although residents recognize the potential for commercial or residential development using some of the land, at the top of the Delano wish list is a big green space for the community to hold events like their farmers’ market. They say their events usually result in shutting down Douglas, a negative impact on the area’s small businesses.

“They love the events, but they also love having customers, so we always have to balance that,” Cravens said. “One of the things we’ve lacked in Delano is a civic green, an off-street space that we can have all kinds of events in.”

“They do a lot in terms of activities where they bring the neighborhood together, and I think they see that, as the library sees it, as an opportunity to put these two together,” Cynthia Berner Harris, Wichita’s library director, said.

The proposed site being discussed is south of 2nd street between Osage and McLean and north of Douglas. If it is built, it would replace the current central library on main next to Century 2, which officials say does not accommodate the best uses of today’s libraries.

“We’re more about programming [and] education training,” Berner Harris said. “The building that we have, which was built in the 1960’s, was done at a time when that wasn’t the way public libraries were used and how the business model worked.”

The new library has an estimated $30 million price tag. The series of meetings will conclude Friday at 1 p.m. at GLMV Architecture at 1525 East Douglas. From there, the design team will take the public feedback and design options for the site.

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