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Approve a shared-use plan for Pawnee Prairie Park

This petition had 207 supporters

There are more than 1,000 families living in the neighborhood that borders the west side of Pawnee Prairie Park. Land locked by US 54 to the north, Pawnee Prairie Park to the east, and rural Sedgwick County to the south and west, the residents in this Wichita community have no convenient and safe access to a public park that meets the diverse recreational needs of their families.

Pawnee Prairie Park is the City of Wichita’s largest public space. Encompassing 625 acres, this city run park is a largely underutilized land mass that currently bans recreational activities other than horseback riding and hiking. The City of Wichita Department of Animal Control shows only 58 horses registered in the city limits. Residents in the adjacent community believe Pawnee Prairie Park is large enough to meet the diverse recreational needs of the community, as well as the needs of 58 resident equestrians.

Equestrians claim allowing other forms of recreation in Pawnee Prairie Park would put all at risk due to horses being startled, yet equestrians already safely coexist with other recreational enthusiasts at numerous parks throughout the nation.  To exacerbate the issue, the nearby singletrack cycling park, Air Capital Park, is only accessible to residents of the local community by using the dangerous and shoulderless Kellogg frontage road that crosses the Cowskin Creek between Maize and Seville roads.

As Wichita residents, we propose the following:

1.      A safe near term plan for the suspension of the bicycle ban in a limited area of Pawnee Prairie Park so as to allow nearby residents safe and legal bicycle access from the Pawnee Street entrance of the park to Air Capital Park.

2.      For the Wichita Park Board to work with recreational subject matter experts (Bike Walk Wichita, Kansas Singletrack, Prairie Travelers, equestrian groups, etc) and community stakeholders on developing an equitable and safe shared-use plan for Pawnee Prairie Park. The foundation of this plan should be for the park to be a complimentary component of the overall Wichita parks and transportation master plan. Future shared-use park development should prioritize maintaining the "preserve" feel of the park, while still serving the recreational needs of nearby families, and the diverse fitness and recreational interests of Wichita citizens.

With some exceptions, public space should always be governed from the standpoint of accessibility and inclusiveness for a majority of the residents in whose city the public space is located. Citizens of Wichita are bigger than this false dichotomy of equestrian vs every other form of recreation. We believe that the city should agree to move forward with a bigger, more diverse vision for Pawnee Prairie Park that shares the city's largest public resource safely and fairly.

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