Century II headed for vote, but in what form?

By The Active Age | August 31, 2020

The battle over Century II and the former downtown library continues.
In January, a private-public group proposed tearing down the structures to redevelop the riverfront area. By July, a group called Century II collected more than 17,000 signatures trying to force the city to put the buildings’ future before voters. However, the city challenged that petition drive in court, arguing that state law prohibits the enacting of “administrative” ordinances through the petition initiative process.
On Aug. 18, the City Council voted to put the question of Century II to voters but did not promise to abide by the result.
The Active Age asked representatives of the city and Save Century II for statements.
Celeste Racette, a leader of Save Century II, made these points in an email:
• Sedgwick County Election Office was consulted regarding the petition and said it was good. Michael D. Pepoon, county counselor, rendered an opinion to Karl Peterjohn and attorney Windell Snow stating: “It is my opinion that the form of the question stated on the petition complies with the requirements of KSA 12-3013 and 25-3601, et seq.”
• City Council held executive sessions on determining whether to sue us or not, and then added an agenda item last week, August 4, and ratified the lawsuit.
• The 2021-2022 proposed budget contains privatization of Century II which can only mean one thing, they are going to turn management of the facility over to Visit Wichita, or some other disinterested group, who will run the building down even further. Nowhere in the budget does it mention historic tax credits for the building.
• City Council, with backing of the City Manager and give quasi-private nonprofit groups, are working to destroy Century II without a citizen vote.
The city issued this statement:
“The City has committed to allowing an advisory public vote if demolition of Century II or the former Central Public Library is ever proposed. We appreciate the robust engagement and advocacy on the part of many residents in regard to these buildings.”