Commissioner urges “Little Engine that Could” attitude about downtown development

Downtown renderingWhile some of his colleagues expressed concerns about the economy and availability of public funds for downtown development, Sedgwick County commissioner Tim Norton urged a positive outlook.

Commissioner Karl Peterjohn had noted that he had read books about downtown development in the mid-20th century and expressed concerns about investing public funds to revitalize Wichita’s central core.

Norton said he had read a book recently, too — “The Little Engine that Could.”

Their discussion illustrates a division among commissioners about downtown. Some believe the county has done enough for downtown and should focus on other parts of the area. Kelly Parks called downtown “a nice place to visit” but said he never would want to live there.

Others, such as Norton and commissioner Dave Unruh, see a vibrant downtown as crucial to the area’s success.

A master plan for downtown was unveiled Tuesday night. Commissioners talked about the plan but will not vote on it until later.