"A Planning Director's Dream" Council Backs Oakland Restoration

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TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW) -- As recent as Monday, it seemed as if not everybody was on board with the proposed Oakland Neighborhood Plan, but once council took the issue to vote, the ordinance passed unanimously.

Topeka City Planner Bill Fiander says the Oakland community showed a passion for restoration unlike he's ever seen in the Capital City.

"The amount of community participation has been higher than we've ever had a neighborhood planning meeting. It's been great," said Fiander.

Despite the high level of community involvement in crafting the plan which primarily targets improving areas around Chase Middle and State Street Elementary Schools. District 2 Councilman John Campos made public statements that it needed to be re-worked, but when it came to a vote unchanged, Campos gave it his vote, declining to comment on his change of heart.

Fiander was pleased with the overall outcome from start to finish, saying, "This is a Planning Director's dream. Everything came into place. Great community involvement, great staff and Oakland is a stable area."

Saving historic buildings is the goal of the City Landmarks Commission. It unveiled plans to get public input in creating an endangered property list.

Landmarks Commission Chair Zach Snethen hopes the list will create public awareness and citizen involvement, before the properties meet the fate of the Harrison Street Church, which burned before it could be saved.

"If the awareness would have been there sooner and we could have helped restoration, then in that extreme case, it wouldn't have been a building burning down," said Snethen.

The deadline to submit to the list is May 1, 2014.