Category Archives: City Hall

LED lights for parking garages pulled from city’s stimulus plans

light-poleA plan to replace more than 800 inefficient lights in city-owned parking garages with long-lasting LED lights seemed doomed from the start.

Vice Mayor Jim Skelton leveled arguments against them and said it just doesn’t make sense to pull functioning lights just to save some energy. (See The Eagle’s story about that.)

Now the city has pulled them from the list of projects they plan to fund with the federal stimulus money being given to cities across the country.

But the proposal, which council members will vote on Tuesday, still includes the other projects. Those include:

$3.6 million to put a “green roof” on the Rounds and Porter Building that sits just west of City Hall

$1.6 million to connect the K-96 bike path to the I-135 path

$560,000 to synchronize stop lights at about 227 intersections

$264,000 for voluntary energy conservation programs and education

$15,000 to buy a cardboard baler for Century II

From stimulus to bicyclist

bicycle-shadowYou don’t have to go far in this town to find someone frustrated by the lack of bike lanes, connectivity of the trails or the difficulty of getting across town without your own hood. But that may get at least a partial fix soon.

The city’s transit department has $6.6 million of stimulus money (that federal cash viewed by some as a boost in a down economy and by others as wasteful spending with lax oversight). That will equip virtually all buses with bicycle racks (they each hold two bikes on the front of the bus). And the city is also considering placing bike racks or lockers where trails intersect with bus paths, said Mike Vinson, the city’s transit director. Read More »

Blank ballots shielded vice mayor vote

BallotThe tight vote over who would be Wichita’s vice mayor will remain a matter of speculation or insider knowledge. That’s because the ballots used by the city council were blank, asking only that each member write a name down on the sheet. That makes it one of the only instances where the council essentially has a closed vote.

On the first round, three members selected Jim Skelton, two picked Jeff Longwell and two picked Lavonta Williams. On round two, Williams only landed one vote — and Skelton got four.

The voting system city council members voted to buy a couple years ago doesn’t allow unique voting, such as putting a name or word in. It only offers council members a ‘yes,’ ‘no,’ or ‘abstain,’  Mayor Carl Brewer said.

Major council business awaiting Brewer when he returns from China

The Intrust Bank Arena tax increment finance district is back on the agenda, but not for the regular Tuesday meeting. It will wait until a special 1 p.m. meeting Thursday when Mayor Carl Brewer and Vice Mayor Sue Schlapp return from a taxpayer-funded trip to China with other Kansas officials. Read More »

Big Ditch bridge back up for debate

It’s time, once again, to talk about a new bridge over the Big Ditch in northwest Wichita. Folks in that part of town are well-acquainted with the issue, which basically involves the question of where should it go — 13th Street? 21st Street? 25th Street?. But those northwest residents have also seen plans for the bridge live, die and come back to life again. Well, it’s back (officially) again on Wednesday night (Oct.8), when city officials plan to show off some options, chat with those who show up and collect input.

The Eagle requested some more details from the city Monday, but got no response. Already, the city has studied and re-studied ways to bridge the ditch. The latest of those studies was only recently completed, leading to the unveiling of options Wednesday night.

The public meeting is at 7 p.m. at the Sedgwick County Extension Office, 7001 West 21st St. North.

Open mics at private Wichita City Council meeting

It was just about a reporter’s dream.

Wichita City Council members had just kicked everyone out of their board room for an executive session meeting. A few minutes passed. And then there was a little commotion and some phone calls indicating the private meeting wasn’t so private after all. Turns out the audio was still on and broadcasting online — though Channel 7 viewers were just hearing the usual elevator tunes. City staff hauled out the microphones — seen in the photo at the left — and the council resumed its meeting in private. To this reporter’s dismay, nothing sexy got on air; they hadn’t even started their discussion. But it was about as close as we non-executives get to being a fly on the wall of a closed-door session. Read More »

No big surprises in flood patterns, city says

Back in 1998, city officials and the analysts they hired were surprised to learn some of west Wichita’s worst flooding came from Dry Creek, which ran over its banks and cut a new channel to the north fork of Calfskin Creek. Much of that water ended up in The Dell neighborhood, which again last weekend was heavily damaged by rising water.

This time, however, there don’t seem to be any surprises in flood flows, Public Works Director Chris Carrier said. Read More »

Text of Mayor Carl Brewer’s statement on flooding in Wichita

We typically don’t publish press releases or typed up statements. But, as waters damage homes and property in Wichita, we figured we would pass along Mayor Carl Brewer’s statement ASAP. It was released at 4:45 p.m. today.

Here it is word-for-word: Read More »

Wichita City Council to tackle $10 million for Cessna and urge statewide transportation plan

It’s been months since city, county and business officials said the community would have to pony-up some cash to ensure Cessna builds its Columbus jet here in Wichita. Now the loan — or the city’s share of it, anyway — is on the table.

City Council members Tuesday are all but assured to approve their $5 million share of a $10 million city/county forgivable loan. The money will help the aircraft giant build new facilities to build the jet in. Cessna estimates the project will result in $800 million in capital investment and create 1,000 engineering, production and support jobs. Read More »

Wichita’s City Council consent agenda isn’t as boring as usual

It’s an unexpectedly exciting (if that word can be used in a council blog) line up for this week’s city council consent agenda and workshop.

First off, it’s not really a consent agenda, as the council calendar and 9:30 a.m. meeting time suggest. The first item is the repeal of the Intrust Bank Arena area tax increment finance district. Read more about that in Tuesday’s Eagle or here. In short, it’s a reaction to Sedgwick County’s concerns that the district is too big and diverts county-wide tax money to things the city should fund on its own. We can hear the groans of downtown developers and the cheers of limited government advocates already. Read More »