Former Wichita Mayor Carlos Mayans disputes accounts from developers, real estate analysts and government officials who say he led a move to cut WaterWalk funding in 2003, leading to Bass Pro Shop’s refusal five years ago to locate in downtown Wichita. Below are excerpts of his e-mailed comments reprinted verbatim:
In 2002 BC (Before Carlos), the issue of the WaterWalk and Bass Pro Shop came to the City Council led by former Mayor Knight and that Council could not muster the five votes needed to approve the WaterWalk project. The developers had been courting the BP officials for their commitment to them. BP did not want to come to Wichita until the developers had an agreement with the City of Wichita, but the Council voted NO several times to no avail. Former Council members Gale, Lambkee, and Martz would always vote against the project. Knight, Brewer and Pisciotte would vote yes. It was an impasse and the project funding was never approved under their term. What this means is that if there was no WW project approved BP would not come to town.
In 2003 BC there was another vote on the project and it failed once again. A new Mayor and two new City Council members were elected on April 1, 2003. Many thought that the new Mayor and Council would continue to disapprove of the project, but we all kept an open mind until we knew more about the WW project. I met with BP officials and developers about three months after the election and BP officials told us that they were disappointed with the lack of support from the previous Council and they indicated that they were running out of time and may build somewhere else. I indicated to them that many people in the community opposed the project and that the new council was still looking at the project and keeping an open mind. Over the next few months I visited with the Council members and the developers trying to forged an amended WW agreement that could muster the five votes necessary. Remember, if the project was not first approve! d nothing else could happen. Finally, in December of 2003, I had an amended WW agreement that cut spending by 10% or $3 million dollars. The types of cuts and where they were made on the project were decided by the developers not the Council. In December, I led the effort, with my vote, in support and approval of the WW project 5-2. Brewer, Fearey, Gray, Schlapp and I voted on the affirmative, Lambkee and Martz voted no. By then BP, was already negotiating in Oklahoma and no longer interested in Wichita.”