Unlike some issues to come before the City Council, such as smoking restrictions in the parks, there was no debate when the issue of funding a new bike path south to Mulvane came up at the Oct. 8 meeting: it sailed on through.
Council members such as Jack Hezlep said it will add to the local quality of life and build on the existing system.
“We in Derby are lucky to have forward-thinking people who have developed an extensive hike and bike trail system that can get you almost anywhere in the city without having to ride on a road,” said Hezlep, himself an avid bicyclist.
The new route, called the Derby-Mulvane Pathway, will feature a concrete bike path along the west side of Rock Road connecting Derby and Mulvane and uniting both communities to the future Decarsky Park. It will be about two miles long.
The county is responsible for administration of the project including design, land acquisition and utility relocation. Some 80 percent of the project’s budget was covered with federal dollars through the Wichita Area Metropolitan Planning Organization.
Design of the project is complete and it was recently bid by the Kansas Department of Transportation.
Based on the bids received, the required local share of 20 percent of the construction and its engineering is estimated at $173,000. The city’s share is $57,667.
Construction is set to begin by March and be completed in September 2020.
Unlike a path within the city, this project will be a needed connection between two communities, Hezlep said.
“We have been limited to interior Derby with no way to get to surrounding towns safely,” he said. “This bike path is what we should be building throughout the metro area.”
He pointed out that there is a path from Derby to Wichita, which “has been needed for some time.”
The Wichita area is behind other cities, such as the Denver metro region, he said, with paths.
“But I’m seeing progress being made,” said Hezlep, who used to live in Colorado.
In the Denver area, he said, virtually every highway, stream, river, and town has extensive bike paths that lead to every town.
“Bottom line is that you can go anywhere in the metro area on a bike path and they are used extensively,” he said.
Bicycling is good exercise, but safety is a major factor to consider. The new path will create safe riding and walking conditions that don’t exist today on that roadway, he said.
“Our roads have no shoulders to ride on and [that] puts a rider in danger with speeding cars coming very close to a rider,” he said.
Council member John McIntosh echoed that and recalls that several years ago, a bicyclist in the area was killed in an accident with a vehicle.
“This will help,” he said. “It’s a good thing.”
It also will help connect Derby and Mulvane, which makes sense, he said.
And the path is not just for bicycling.
There’s a lot of use for it,” he said. “Runners can use it, too.”
The path is building on a tradition in Derby as it has developed an extensive system of over 25 miles of bike lanes.
To make that happen, much of the system was constructed by leveraging state and federal funds.
However, in recent years, the focus for the award of federal funds has shifted from projects that connect local points of interest to regional projects that tie together communities, according to Dan Squires, the city’s director of planning and engineering.
That, in turn, has required partnerships between cities and counties.
Derby partnered with Sedgwick County to leverage federal funds in 2016 to construct the Aviation Pathway along Buckner and Oliver streets and 47th Street South, connecting Derby’s and Wichita’s path systems.
The official ribbon cutting and presentation of Derby’s 150-year celebration time capsule took place last Wednesday at the Derby Historical Museum.
Historical Society officials, volunteers, city officials and members of the time capsule committee gathered with community members to unveil the capsule and the contents within it.
Amanda Minnick, Chairman of the Time Capsule Committee and current Director of Radiology at Rock Regional Hospital in Derby pointed out that Derby’s 150-year celebration was in the same year that Derby’s first hospital opened.
The time capsule, which contains items that represent Derby in 2019, will be opened in 2069. The stainless steel time capsule box is a 14-inch cube sealed with a silicone sealant. It includes oxygen absorbers and a desiccant to control moisture. The container was purchased from a company that specifically makes such boxes for time capsules.
“We are hoping the citizens of Derby in 2069 will get the opportunity to look back and see a glimpse of 2019 and what we were about and what occupied our time and our attention,” Minnick said.
Currently the time capsule is housed in a glass display case at the Derby Historical Museum at 208 N. Westview in Derby. A list of the items that are in the time capsule are listed on the display. A board with photos of some of the items in the capsule is also a part of the display at the museum.
Dr. John Rhodes, Derby Historical Society Board Chairman, said that they appreciate being honored with keeping the time capsule at the museum, and jokingly commented that he hoped the crowd would all come back in 50 years when it gets opened.
City Manager Kathy Sexton thanked all the people in the community who have been sharing their memories over the past year or more, as well as those who spent time researching and documenting Derby’s history.
Sexton said the City and the Historical Society will work together to maintain and store the time capsule until it is opened in 2069.
One final event that is part of Derby’s year-long sesquicentennial celebration will take place next Thursday, October 24 and is being billed as “A Taste of Derby: 150th Birthday Bash!”
The event, organized by the Derby Chamber of Commerce, is their annual fundraiser and features food samples from a variety of Derby restaurants and caterers, a live and silent auction, and much more.
For additional information on the event and tickets, go to www.derbychamber.com and click on events.