Saturday, September 21, 2013
As the City of Wichita backs off plans to drill for oil downtown, Delano business owners are glad to hear about the change.
However, the neighborhood is also hoping to move forward with development plans of its own.
The city had applied for a conditional use permit to drill on a piece of city-owned property near Sycamore and McLean in order to reach oil that may be under Century II. However, City Councilman Jeff Longwell told KAKE News Friday that plan has now been scrapped.
A busy Saturday afternoon in Delano is something some business owners feared would become less common if oil production had moved into the neighborhood.
“(It’s) probably not the most appealing thing when visitors come down to see that right in the middle of our downtown neighborhood,” Julie Craft, owner of Sweet Cheeks Baby Boutique, said.
The Delano area has enjoyed a resurgence in recent years, Don Cary, owner of All Things Barbecue, said.
“We’ve been in the area for four years and every year it’s a little bit busier and you see that the investment and the interest in the area just continues to grow,” Cary said.
Some Delano business owners and residents worried oil drilling would have hurt that momentum.
“Even if the oil was perfectly silent and even if it had zero odor, it would still scare away business,” Delano Neighborhood Association President Karen Cravens said. “It would still have an economic impact, even in the absolute best case.”
Now the neighborhood hopes to move forward with a decade-old plan to develop the site where the city no longer wants to drill into a park.
“We had just started fundraising for the architectural plans to be drawn up when this issue came up,” Cravens said. “So it’s kind of knocked us out for about two or three months of our fundraising, but now we’re getting back into it.”