Nearly 100 acres of wetlands in Northwest Wichita are on the way to becoming Wichita’s 136th public park. The wetlands, near Cadillac Lake at the intersection of Maize and 29th, were donated to the city of Wichita for preservation by Slawson Companies.
Slawson Companies, developer of New Market Square and several other properties in the Wichita area, purchased 72 acres of wetlands last year from the Pracht family. The Pracht family had owned the land for nearly a century, and had used the area for hunting grounds, as it was known to attract wildlife such as herons, turkeys, pheasants, pelicans and more.
Now, Slawson’s 72 acre purchase will allow the city of Wichita to preserve a large section of the wetlands, as the company plans to develop only 31 acres, and has already donated the remaining 41 acres to the city for preservation. With the addition of these 41 acres to the 52 contiguous acres acquired by the city on 2009, the preserved 93 acres of wetlands in Northwest Wichita will become a public park.
The city’s plan budgets $1 million for the project, to be put towards the construction of elevated walkways, viewing stations, gravel paths, parking options, a boardwalk, a trail head, a fishing pond, and possibly an outdoor classroom.
The city is adding retention ponds to aid in water management for the surrounding area, while also utilizing the natural wetlands to contain water that may otherwise be hazardous in such a low-lying area.
Although the cost of drainage mitigation is estimated at $806,400, the city is not paying any amount in excess of 24 percent, leaving Slawson to foot the remaining 76 percent of the bill.
The completion of the project will require collaboration from public works, the parks department, Slawson and even the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, from whom the city requires a permit to operate the park.
Although it will be Wichita’s 136th public park, the preserved wetlands park will be the first of its kind in the Midwest, and can be expected to open as early as fall of 2016.