• Downtown Hays

New Improvements and Art Installation Planned for Downtown Hays

Very soon, the Downtown Pavilion area at 10th and Main in Downtown Hays will get several significant updates. Downtown Hays Development Corporation (DHDC) had the honor of presenting the proposed updates to Hays City Commissioners at their work session, January 16.


"DHDC is kicking off 2020 with a great development project," Sara Bloom, DHDC Executive Director, said. "It's so humbling for us to get to be a part of yet another beautiful City of Hays and DHDC collaboration that also incorporates the art and history of our area. To get to continue improvements in an area we have invested so much is even more meaningful to our organization."


DHDC's presentation detailed improvements to both the East side and the West side of the pavilion and the installation of two security cameras. On the West, a crushed concrete and gravel fill will create a sustainable and low maintenance parking area. An extension of the existing retaining wall will make identifying the entrance and exit of the area easy as well as prohibit runoff.


"The pavilion has proven itself to be a gathering place in Downtown Hays, and the addition of this parking lot will just further enhance that and the accessibility of the area," Shaun Musil, City of Hays Mayor, said. "This type of collaboration between DHDC and the City has been great in the past and it's wonderful to see it continue for the good of our entire community." 



On the East, DHDC detailed the installation of a limestone sculpture of a steam locomotive done by the renowned sculptor, Pete Felten, and donated to the City of Hays by Hays attorney John T. Bird. 

Felten, who has based his art endeavors of stone sculpture in his hometown of Hays, Kansas, works out of the Stone Gallery on east 6th Street. The Felten Locomotive is modeled closely upon an actual locomotive on display at Fort Riley, Kansas, with great devotion to detail. Bird purchased the sculpture from Pete and immediately began searching for a way to share it with others.


"When I saw Pete's sculpture of the locomotive, I knew it needed to stay in Hays, Kansas," said Bird. "It represents the very beginnings of this community, as Hays was founded on the same day that the Kansas Pacific Railroad, now Union Pacific, reached Hays. Without the railroad, Hays would not have developed into the economic and educational center of this region."


For DHDC this is the most exciting element of the project, according to Bloom. 

"To see another Pete Felten sculpture find its forever home in Downtown Hays, I mean it's everything," Bloom said. "We're just in awe of the timing of this all and so thankful we get to play a small part."


The addition of both the parking lot and the train is estimated to cost a total of $12,420, the majority of that expense going towards the parking lot. DHDC will donate $6,500 to the City of Hays for the improvements. The city's portion is estimated to be $5,420, with another $500 coming from the nonprofit Thunder on the Plains. Even with those numbers, for many, this project is priceless. 


"I was raised on a farm bordering the railroad tracks, and I tried to go out to watch every train that passed, counting the cars, and I still do," Bird said. "This sculpture deserves to be seen and enjoyed by all citizens of Hays and visitors to it. It was worth every penny I paid just to know that it would be preserved for display here. I hope that when people go to see it and take their kids to appreciate it that they will be reminded of the amazing history of our town and will appreciate that we have a world-class sculptor residing in our midst, still creating works of art that will last centuries to come," Bird said.



DHDC hopes to see this project completed by the end of May, just in time for the opening of the Downtown Hays Market. Watch their Facebook page for photos and updates as the work progresses.

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