City Council members on Tuesday approved a new design for Naftzger Park in downtown Wichita.
The redesign will give the roughly 1-acre Victorian-style park a more modern, open layout. Plans include removing the outer wall and adding a stage, fake and real grass, moveable chairs and a dog park.
Mayor Jeff Longwell says as the city’s core area has changed, so has the park’s mission.
“The mission of that park isn’t one where people just go to have solitude and relax and meditate," he said during the City Council meeting. "It’s really now a mission of gathering place, [a] welcoming gathering place, for everyone.”
Critics of the plan had earlier raised concerns that the development would displace homeless people who use the park.
Naftzger Park will lose some land along its eastern edge, which is private property. However, it will expand slightly to the south, gaining about 3,000 square feet of space. The city is planning a multi-million dollar residential and commercial development at the site of the former Spaghetti Works building next to the park.
The $1.5 million first phase of construction on Naftzger Park is set to start in June, paid for through Tax Increment Financing.
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