Two Manhattan community members are spearheading an effort to build a potential project along the Kansas River Front.
Phil Anderson and Rod Harms are raising funds and educating the public for Riverfront MHK. The project would include a developed riverfront district near downtown Manhattan. They hope to raise $175,000 to hire a consultant to begin a design phase.
Anderson says the idea came about from the levy system built at the Tuttle Creek Lake dam after the flood of 1951.
“The unintended consequence was this levy cut us off from the river, which was use for recreation. As a result, we virtually forgot we have a river,” says Anderson.
Anderson saw a lecture at K-State last year that dealt with the riverfronts in the Midwest and convinced the speaker to come speak with the community. He brought the speaker to the river and she told him the river has the potential for a developed riverfront for recreational use.
Anderson says he was surprised to see the amount of community engagement during their first meeting. The two have been holding meetings every week for the last year educating the public and community leaders.
Anderson also believes this project would add to the quality of life in Manhattan citing some issues in the city like decreasing enrollment at K-State and Fort Riley deployments.
“This is the sort of thing that we need to turn our attention to and invest in because it will pay huge economic dividends,” says Anderson.
Harms says they are at the point in the process where they are showing possible donors and community leaders that they have the public’s support for the project. The Manhattan Community Foundation will act as the project’s physical and contracting agent.
Anderson says the riverfront connection needs to be from the downtown side to be able to launch watercraft onto the river. This would also allow people to walk from the riverfront to the downtown area for lodging, food, and other entertainment.
With the recent loss of Country Stampede to Topeka, some believe the city needs a needs a new event venue, which Harms thinks the riverfront could eventually provide. Since the City of Manhattan and Riley County governments own land along the river, Harms believes those parks could hold an amphitheater.
More information and ways to donate can be found on the project’s website at riverfrontmhk.com. Community meetings also take place every second and fourth Tuesday of each month at the Radina’s in Aggieville.