By Debrah Shaar
A neighborhood association is creating a plan to improve safety in downtown Wichita’s growing communities.
The Downtown Neighborhood Association started last year with the goal of bringing together people who live and work in Delano, Old Town, Commerce Street and the Douglas Design District.
Association President Jason Van Sickle says the group is developing initiatives to improve safety in these neighborhoods.
"Creating things like neighborhood groups, neighborhood watch groups, looking at the issues such as panhandling, issues such as homelessness, issues such as vagrancy and some things that we know happen, and also things like crime and safety," Van Sickle says.
Van Sickle says they’re coordinating with the Wichita Police Department and city leaders, and expect to begin the new efforts this year.
The city of Wichita launched safety and security improvements in Old Town in 2016. New lights and security cameras were installed, and a police substation opened. Van Sickle says his group is looking to expand those options across downtown.
"The Downtown Neighborhood Association is focused on taking a lot of those lessons learned in Old Town and apply them across downtown because there’s been tremendous advancements made in health and safety in the Old Town area," Van Sickle says.
Van Sickle says downtown Wichita is the fastest growing residential area in the city, and the changing social demographics warrant new crime prevention and education efforts. He hopes to develop a public-private partnership to fund and implement the plan.
Van Sickle says more than 150 residents, businesses and organizations are members of the Downtown Neighborhood Association.