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Warren Riverview Park wins national award

Pec Featured Projects Warren Riverview Large 02jpg
  • Adventure Park Designed for Teens
  • Community Event Space
  • Flooding Mitigation
  • Green Infrastructure
  • Site Development and Reuse
  • National Award Winning

Flood tested – CHECK
National award – CHECK

The Warren Riverview Park embraces and celebrates its neighbor ­­— the Arkansas River. Most people just driving by don’t have time to soak in the beauty of the river. The park offers a space to take that river view in. Surrounded by stone benches, and lawn terraces, the rustic-themed Warren Riverview Park features a canoe launch, ropes course, an interactive boulder wall, handicap-accessible playground, covered shelter, community event space with river overlook, and landscape designed for increased water flows.

The park, nestled against the east bank of the Arkansas River between Market Street and Washington Avenue, once held the Public Works facility, which was relocated to 55th Street. Robert Mendoza, Director of Public Works for the City of Derby, a community volunteer team of about 30 people and the WDM-PEC design team worked on many variations of the park. The park went through about a year’s design process and is a compilation of a lot of ideas, discussions and planning.

That process was rewarded by the American Public Works Association (APWA) who selected it as the recipient of the National Public Works Project of the Year Award for small cities/rural communities in the structures award category. The award was recognized during APWA’s PWX (Public Works Expo) in Seattle, WA. Infrastructure projects publicly developed, owned, and maintained are chosen for promoting excellence in construction management and administration. The award recognizes the alliance between – the City of Derby, community volunteers, the consultants PEC and WDM, the contractor Snodgrass & Sons – and their cooperative achievements.

Adventure park features

The riverside facility is different than the city’s other parks in that it’s oriented toward older youth and has an active tack to it. The adventure park is the first and only one in the city to provide access to the Arkansas River and is not a park designed for young children. While the whole family is welcome, you will not find traditional playground equipment for young tikes.

The four-acre city park includes:

  • Kayak/canoe access to the river
  • 30-foot ropes course
  • Interactive boulder wall + boulders all around the park
  • ADA-accessible playground
  • Camping sites for organized groups, such as the Scouts and church groups

The custom ropes course includes a large pinnacle climbing structure that reaches close to 30 feet tall at the spire. A complete circuit can be made without touching the ground. The park plantings provide a great learning tool. With the tree species diversity, scouting groups can identify every type of tree that is hardy to our region.

The park project also incorporated a gateway sign for the City of Derby from the west. The City wanted this gateway to be a piece of art. The sign is made of a perforated metal panel with led lights that change colors in wave patterns, emulating the adjacent river — a perfect welcome to the city.

(playground equipment photo courtesy Athco/Landscape Structures)
(Derby sign copyright Bill Fales billfalesphotography.com)

Community event center generates revenue


The park event center, dubbed “The Lodge,” accounted for about $1 million of the park’s $4.1 million cost. Designed in the style of National Park lodges like those found in Yellowstone or Yosemite, the Lodge is rustic with large heavy timber beams, a slate-style roof, stacked stone columns, a fireplace and lots of glass.

The Lodge features great views down the Arkansas River for wildlife watching. It features a fireplace focal point and holds seating for approximately 100 people. PEC’s engineering design included an extensive audio-visual system, as well as safety and aesthetic lighting. It is available to rent for events, gatherings, scout groups or other meetings and conferences. A covered shelter with grills and picnic tables to accommodate more than 50 is also available to rent.

City leaders identified that the Derby community deserves quality of life investments. The Warren Riverview Park is that and more. It brings visitors to events held at The Lodge and park at large. The park also provides public access to the Arkansas River with a drop in/pull out spot which in turn provides a connection to Wichita and contributes its part in the Ark River Coalition.

The development resourced an existing site the city already owned and turned it into a great community asset — a destination — enhancing the quality of life for the community and spurring additional development in the area. 

(lodge photos copyright Bill Fales billfalesphotography.com)

Sustainable design ready for rain

Since the river is the parks neighbor, everything at the park is designed for increased water flow. If heavy rains hit Derby and the river gets high, the park activities may be hampered but damage will be minimal. The Lodge is perched high above the river, almost at street level, placing it out of flood danger. The terrace design allows the park to be used at different levels as the water rises. The materials selected for the park were chosen to withstand flooding events without damage. 

The storage capacity of the river has been increased because the park design allows it to back up into the park during high flood events. This design was tested in May when heavy downpours hit the area and the riverbanks swelled.

“The park worked just as we had planned when the river rose,” said Nick Staib, Warren Riverview Park Project Manager.

The park design includes a direct commitment to sustainability. The entire parking lot drains to a bioswale. The bioswale filters stormwater runoff prior to introduction into the river. An existing spring discovered during construction was incorporated into the park and the bioswale design to create a bog which further enhances the plant diversity and wildlife habitat.

The site contains a working wastewater lift station for this portion of the city. The station was incorporated to fit within the park design and helps blend it in, so it is not an eyesore for the neighborhood. The park also incorporates 34 different varieties of trees from commonly found pines and oak species, to the more unusual such as the bald cypress and tulip tree.

(flood photo above courtesy Derby Informer)

Park pays tribute to Ray and Virginia Warren

The Warren Riverview Park is named in memory of Ray and Virginia Warren, long-time advocates for Derby’s growth and for scouting and community recreation. The Warrens have been instrumental in the growth and prosperity of Derby in countless ways. The whole family has been active in outdoor activities like Boy Scouting, fishing, and parks development in the Derby community.

Ray Warren was a charter member of and served for 16 years on the Derby Recreation Commission (DRC) board. When city voters approved the first phase of the DRC, Warren talked another developer out of building duplexes at the current DRC site. He then traded land with the other developer and talked the city into the purchase of the current site. He worked with other parks in a variety of ways and understood the need for a larger park. Warren actually purchased the land for Derby’s High Park, talked the city into purchasing it for the same price he had paid and then donated his real estate commission to the DRC. In 1994, the Kansas Parks and Recreation Association named him Volunteer of the Year. 

Ray Warren was also active in Boy Scouts for over 30 years and was awarded the highest adult volunteer recognition: the Silver Beaver Award. 

Warren’s love of parks may have had a link back to his childhood. He worked as a child in the Riverside Boathouse in Wichita, a facility his grandfather, Ruben Israel, helped build.

 The Riverview park was designed with honoring the Warren family in mind and includes a one-of-a-kind totem pole that was hand carved by his son, Danny Ray Warren, that tells a story of their family — their legacy lives on in the Warren Riverview Park.

(playground equipment photo courtesy Athco/Landscape Structures)

Warren Riverview Park Photo Gallery