Group continues effort for public vote on future of Century II

Could the future of Century II be up for public vote? That’s the question one group is hoping to have on ballots in August or November.
Published: Jan. 26, 2023 at 4:48 PM CST
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WICHITA, Kan. (KWCH) - Could the future of Century II be up for public vote? That’s the question one group is hoping to have on ballots in August or November.

Celeste Racette, founder of the grassroots effort, “Save Century II,” isn’t giving up on leaving the fate of the historic venue up to Wichita voters.

The question: “Should Century II and Wichita’s former public library be kept for public use by the citizens of Wichita?”

Racette said she remains skeptical seeing a budget for Century II improvements.

‘When you budget money for repair for a building, that doesn’t mean it’s going to happen,” she said. “So, we’re not going away. We’re watching carefully (to see) if the roof is fixed next year. And we’ve asked city council, our elected officials, put this on the ballot in the August primary or November election and let’s settle the question once and for all.”

After the Save Century II grassroots effort started in 2019, the City of Wichita is investing in the maintenance of Century II. In the city’s capital improvement program, or C.I.P. It states that more than $18 million of improvements are planned over the next 10 years for Century II.

“We are investing back into Century II to ensure that the asset actually has the type of roof it needs, it has the basics met,” said Wichita Mayor Brandon Whipple. “Also, to ensure that folks get the best experience possible out of Century II. Century II is here to stay.”

Supporters of the efforts from Save Century II say they want to see the 53-year-old venture and Wichita’s former Central Library remain functional. The supporters say they’re ready to hear from more Wichitans.

“I think it’s important that we resolve this issue with public input,” said former Sedgwick County Commissioner Karl Peterjohn, now among leaders of the Save Century II Committee.

With the August primary election and November general election happening, Peterjohn said the Century II question should be on a ballot.

“Let’s get this issue resolved so we can move forward,” he said.

Wichita Mayor Brandon Whipple said a ballot question on the venue’s future could present a challenge for the City of Wichita.

“Frankly, if we went to the ballot, and people said, ‘hey now we do want to replace Century II,” Whipple said. “That puts us in a tough spot because we are investing in the improvements of Century II at this moment.”

The City of Wichita reported already starting the bidding process on the work for Century II. The city said the most complicated part of the project will be the roof replacement. As for the ballot question, the primary will be Aug. 1 with a Nov. 7 general election.