Wichita board seeks bike trails along Big Ditch, but attorney points out legal hurdles

A Wichita city board decided to move forward Monday with trying to put bike paths along the Big Ditch, despite an attorney’s advice that it would be almost impossible to do it legally.

The Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Board is hoping to run trails on top of the levees of the Wichita-Valley Center Floodway, the centerpiece of the flood control system through west Wichita.


But Assistant City Attorney Jeff Vanzandt said there are high legal hurdles in the way.

The biggest problem, he said, is that when Wichita and Sedgwick County condemned the property for the ditch in 1950, they did it as a flood-control easement. That means the original property owner still owns it.

Under state law, adding a recreational use such as a bike path would “overburden” that easement, meaning it would be used for a purpose not originally intended when it was taken from its owner.

(Read more: Kansas.com &)

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