Downtown Wichita presentations: what’s the point?

As part of its effort to revitalize downtown Wichita, the city wants to hire a planning firm. Four firms have been selected as finalists. Tuesday and Wednesday, (September 22 and 23), the firms will make public presentations as part of the selection process.

I had thought that it would be great if the public would be involved in this selection process. To that end I asked — first informally, then under the provisions of the Kansas Open Records Act — for copies of the proposals submitted by the finalist firms. My requests were denied. (See Downtown Wichita proposals not available to citizens)

In the end, the fact that the city won’t let citizens see the proposals probably doesn’t matter. At this week’s planning meetings, citizens will not be allowed to ask questions. There will be a city council meeting where the council will make a decision, and citizens will have an opportunity to provide input at that time. But without detailed knowledge of the proposals, how can citizens ask questions?

Citizens need to realize that city government and downtown leaders are just not interested in their input in this matter.

There are a few citizens, though, who do have these proposals. If you’re a member of a select committee, you can have them. Government shouldn’t be allowed to pick and choose which select citizens are allowed to see how their tax dollars are to be used.

The fact that the city doesn’t want to let citizens — except those in a limited circle of downtown boosters — view these proposals and participate in the planning firm selection process is disturbing. It follows a pattern of stacking committees with people friendly to the desired goal, with no desire for dissent to be heard. It’s a public relations disaster for the City of Wichita.

5 thoughts on “Downtown Wichita presentations: what’s the point?”

  1. I tried to advance ideas at the Mayor’s downtown steering meetings it was abundantly clear that if an idea was not in the Mayors play book it was immediately dismissed. So to answer your question we can expect a need to subsidize an urban supermarket for downtown (by the way City officials have made it clear Ray Sales is way below their expectations). We will see a further need for unfair and unbid freebees like Exchange Place for the Minn Boys who will be essential to the Mayor’s reelection. A need for further subsidies for additional housing downtown.

  2. This is exactly the kind of political trickery that turns a representative democracy into dictatorial oligopoly. People should not put up with this sort of thing because it takes away their input into the decisions made about how to use their tax money. Further, such unilateral decision making does not allow for the proper consideration of conflicting goals and the intellectual challenge to form the best ideas. We definitely need to get the word out on this!! People should be getting up in arms!

  3. Good evening,
    I appreciate feedback but it all fairness you should be accurate in your blogging. You say the “City is hiring a planning firm…” They will sign the contract but remember that the WDDC is paying $150,000 and has committed to raise another $100,000 (at $98,000 as of today) to pay for the plan. I am on the selection committee and have some concerns with your request to see the proposals. You are a business man and negotiate contracts all the time. Do you allow the bidders to have access to each others bids prior to them negotiating a deal with you? I don’t! So in giving out the proposals prior to selection we are putting ourselves at a disadvantage. Your request was to see them even prior to the presentations. Don’t you think that a presentation could have been changed based on something one of the bidders saw in the others proposals? SURE!! I understand that the offer was made to make the proposals public after the selection was made and prior to the contract being signed. I think that would have been the best way to do it. My understanding is that the City has agreed to your request.
    To those that talk about more subsidizes and such you should have been at the presentations. These people talked about private investment, rate of returns, business plans. Yes they did also talk tax increment financing and other tools. Today OKC announced their MAP3 http://www.okc.gov/maps3/ a $777 Million sales tax- voter approved (if passed Dec. 8 they have already passed 2 other MAP plans prior to this). New convention center, bike paths, parks, pools and more – NO SUBSIDIZES! Would those against the TIFF districts and such be in favor of the voter approved sales tax to fund civic improvements??

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