The Delano Advisory Board Committee in a 7-1 vote delayed approval of the latest of the Ballpark Master Plan. The reason for delaying the vote was lack of clarification over parking plans in the Delano district.
A sticking point for the one member of the committee is the development of 75 free and convenient parking spaces as promised by Lou Schwechheimer, the owner of Wichita’s new baseball team, at a City Council Meeting in March.
“It’s hard to say looking at this plan if this moving target is going to include what was promised,” said committee member Jack Kellogg of Hatman Jack’s, a hat shop in the Delano District.
Another committee member Laurel Alkire, executive director of Senior Services, echoed the sentiments about the lack of parking, but noted parking seems overall like an afterthought.
“It seems to be when the plan came out the city completely ignored it.” Alkire continued, “The parking was one of our number one issues.”
A handful of Delano residents got to speak in opposition to the latest master plan draft. Sheryse Navarro lives on Oak Street to the west of a proposed parking lot.
“I have not been contacted at all regarding this situation. So as of last week, I found out I could potentially be living across the street from a parking lot, and that is ludicrous to me,” said Navarro. “This whole process has been really confusing for the common person just to understand how and where we are supposed to be heard.”
The city released the Ballpark Village Master Plan draft on June 10, and the committee was being asked to approve the plan on June 18th. This was not enough time for Navarro.
“I’ve been in my house for 18 years. And I appreciate that yeah we do need parking and that was one of my concerns when this all came out as a plan but at our expense? At our homes? At our future? We are supposed to take one for the team for the better of the stadium,” said Navarro.
Only once during the meeting, the potential cost of parking addressed. Committee member Jason Gregory asked what is on the mind of many Wichitans; “How are we going to pay for this garage?”
The $75 million costs of the stadium do not include parking for the stadium outside of parking within the confines of the actual park. Any parking garage or surface lot still needs to be paid for. There is talk of a federal grant to cover a parking garage, but as Gregory noted, “I want to understand what would be plan B.”
Scott Knebel, planning manager for the city of Wichita, responding to the committee concerns regarding options to approve or deny the plan noted that the ballpark draft is a simple policy document.
“The plan is a policy document. You don’t need a lawyer to ignore it,” said Knebel.