Proposed changes to Cowtown wooden boardwalks met with mixed reviews

WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW)  – The Old Cowtown Museum could get a more modern look in the near future.

In March, the Wichita City Council approved a project that would remove the current wood boardwalks and replace them with composite wood.

They are also planning on installing concrete sidewalks. This is so they will be compliant with the American with Disabilities Act (ADA).

Officials with Cowtown say the $800,000 project was also approved by the Cowtown Board of Directors.

However, the proposed changes to the boardwalks have created heated and at times emotional discussion.

Tuesday evening, 40 to 50 people, including volunteers, officials with Cowtown, and those who frequent the museum turned out for an open forum to discuss the issue.

Kiera Adams has volunteered at Cowtown for over a year. Adams feels changes to the wooden boardwalks would take away from what makes Cowtown special.

“You want authentic, you want real deal, you want in the movies,” Adams said.

While some of the volunteers say it would tarnish the appeal of Cowtown, others say it would help make it more accessible.

“Personally, my mom, my mom and my aunt can’t walk on the boardwalks for that long and they aren’t the best, maybe plastic is the best,” said Keith Wondra, Assistant Curator Old Cowtown Museum.

The threefold project is slated to make improvements to both drainage and lighting, something officials say is much-needed.

The addition of concrete sidewalks is something David Calvert says will help him get around easier.

Calvert has been a wheelchair since he was 10 years old after he was diagnosed with Polio.

He says the transition from wood to composite on the boardwalks would allow him to enjoy the many things Cowtown has to offer.

“With me it is just a very practical issue, can I get around here and can I participate like everyone else does,” Calvert said.

Jacky Goerzen, the Executive Director for Cowtown, understands where both sides are coming from.

“I understand the concerns from the public works standpoint. I also understand what the volunteers are saying, so yeah, they definitely have a valid argument,” she said.

The input from Tuesday’s meeting will go to city officials for discussion. The city’s design council is set to meet on Monday, May 15.


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