According to some of my old notes… We started discussing the chance of the National Park Service coming to Topeka in summer of 2015.
A few of the NPS architects visited Topeka on August 19, 2015 and they told us it would be an ENTIRE YEAR before they could come and do a design charette in Topeka. That seemed like forever at the time. Sure enough, a year later August 22-26, they came and conducted a splendid design charette. When the event finally arrived the team and community were slightly giddy.
Nearing the end of the week, myself and others of the public started asking what’s next? We found out we would receive the final plans from the NPS within 8 months – 1 year. The Army Corps of Engineers is working on the levees and their work further dictates the construction of the park. The City of Topeka is acquiring all of the properties on the land and will begin park preparation by clearing the land hopefully sometime in the end of 2017. Then Shawnee County Parks and Recreation will likely develop and operate the future park, if that is the final decision of the County Commissioners. But how long will all these next steps take? Could be 4-5 years…yes, I said 4-5 years.
I have come to further understand and appreciate how long these projects take and how important each step is and each person who gets involved along the way. In a world that moves quickly through social media, emails, crazes like Pokémon Go, etc., it is hard to accept that community change takes so long. I was sitting at the NPS reveal and John Hunter went into explaining these next steps and who all was involved. I had to laugh out loud at the end when John’s tone of voice changed and became more down to earth and he said, “So don’t go writing to the Capital Journal saying ‘here they go again saying something will happen and it doesn’t.’” People were laughing and nodding all around the room.
Other good long time coming news is the Neighborhood Improvement Association for Downtown is officially official! Now the work continues of course, engaging more neighbors, but the project is handed off to the neighbors now and they don’t need the facilitation and structure of Heartland Visioning any longer. That is what we do best, facilitate change and then let the group fly. And guess how long this one took? 1.5 years with lots of meetings and talking.
Change takes time! We have to be adaptable along the way, but it sure is rewarding. Therefore, we forge ahead and keep moving. You can join us on the trek. Just reach out and we can discuss how and where.