Newspaper article The Topeka Capital-Journal

Steps Being Taken Provide a Shot at Riverfront Park Cash Flow

Newspaper article The Topeka Capital-Journal

Steps Being Taken Provide a Shot at Riverfront Park Cash Flow

Article excerpt

Two moves being made this year give this community a legitimate shot at acquiring grant funding to help establish a riverfront park, the Topeka and Shawnee County Riverfront Authority heard Wednesday.

Work begins soon to rehabilitate Topeka's Kansas River levee system while the National Park Service this summer will take part in a design charette here regarding a proposed "Oregon Trail Riverfront Park," noted Pat Downes, the riverfront authority's director of development.

While those steps won't ensure grant funding, Downes said, they guarantee "that the door is open so we can make presentations to government and nongovernment entities that are capable of providing funding."

The park would be located "in the front yard of the Great Overland Station, down the block from the NOTO District," Downes said.

A veteran of riverfront development efforts in Oklahoma City, Downes has worked since 2013 with the riverfront authority here.

Deputy Topeka city manager Doug Gerber spoke to riverfront authority members Robin Jennison, Mark Ruelle, Greg Schwerdt, Alan Hageman and Hal Gardner at their meeting Wednesday. Chairwoman Beth Fager took part by speakerphone.

Gerber said the city will pay about $10 million out of the project to rehabilitate its Kansas River levee. The city hasn't saved up all its share but will by the end of the project, he said.

The city announced in a news release Wednesday it will team up with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to carry out the $29 million project to make the levee more reliable and improve protection for 6,500 homes, 790 businesses, regional air and rail infrastructure and many public utility facilities.

Groundbreaking ceremonies will be at 11 a.m. March 31 on the levee, the release said.

"The groundbreaking ceremony comes on the tails of the February release of President Obama's 2017 fiscal year budget, which includes an additional $8 million to complete this project," the release said. …

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