- Associated Press - Friday, August 28, 2015

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) - Wichita officials say they’re planning an urban wetlands park in the city that could include walking and jogging trails, plus a fishing pond.

Mayor Jeff Longwell announced Thursday that the city will use more than 40 acres of land to create the park and public nature area. The land is being donated by Slawson Cos., which is planning a mixed-use development adjacent to the property, The Wichita Eagle (http://bit.ly/1i6Vb5p ) reported.

“This area will have very cool park amenities and some quality-of-life opportunities for all of Wichita,” Longwell said. “These are the types of things that are life-changing, certainly for west Wichita, and I think you’ll see people travel to come to some of these amenities.

“It’s very exciting - this would be a first-of-its-kind in the Midwest that we know of.”

The City Council still must approve the land donation, which could happen next week. Part of the park and commercial development could be ready by fall of next year.

The company’s vice president for commercial development said the business sees it as a “win-win situation.”

Longwell said that one of the major benefits for both parties involves water management enhancements, which stands to aid the development and the city. Stormwater retention ponds will be housed in the wetlands area, which will serve as floodplain buffers for both the development and the city.

An estimated $1 million has been earmarked for the planned wetlands park as part of the city’s 10-year capital improvement plan. Officials say each part of the park project will need to be approved by the City Council and contracted out.

“To have a wetland inside an urban-suburban area is very rare,” said City Council member Bryan Frye. “This property is home to a diverse collection of plant life and wildlife.

“Wetlands are disappearing at an alarming rate. We have an opportunity here to retain some.”

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Information from: The Wichita (Kan.) Eagle, http://www.kansas.com

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