Planners and consultants with Oklahoma City expanded a line-up of “open house” sessions in mid-April for residents to submit feedback about a MAPS 4 plan to spend $154 million improving and expanding city parks.
The public forums are the final sessions for the first phase of the MAPS 4-budgeted “Parks Master Plan Development” project, before moving on to the second phase in May. The next part of the project will focus on prioritizing what amenities will be allocated to the city’s 105 existing community and neighborhood parks.
“We wanted to allow the public as much time as possible to submit comment,” said Kristi Pempin, vice president of marketing and client development for White Hawk Engineering & Design. “Code issues and safety issues were top priority, but the comments we get from the public will help us prioritize what other needs should be taken care of further.”
What are people saying needs to be improved at Oklahoma City parks?
Consultants held several in-person meetings at various locations from December through February for residents to offer input on several different groups of parks throughout the metro. About 200 people attended the sessions, and an estimated 1,000 comments have been left on the official website for the project. Common recommendations have emerged, including lighting improvements, playground upgrades and equipment additions.
“Some of the parks that we didn’t get much feedback for the last (sessions), we’re getting more feedback this time,” said Darron Scott, a landscape architect for Kimley-Horn And Associates. “Some of the parks have had total redo’s with their trails and fields in recent years, while some other parks haven’t had any the last 20 or 30 years.”
Dolphin Wharton Park is only half a mile from where the latest “open house” meeting was held Thursday evening, at the Santa Fe Life Center in northeast Oklahoma City.
Annetta Behn-Burden, former president of the Wildwood Hills-Heights Neighborhood Association, said a lot of current issues with the park could be addressed with better lighting and drainage maintenance.
“It’s a beautiful place, but sometimes you can’t use the pavilion area because you can’t see anything,” Behn-Burden said. “We’re right off the highway, we’re right off 63rd, and that makes you accessible to transients and opens you up to other situations that aren’t desirable. We need lighting to keep us safe.”
Behn-Burden also asked planners to prioritize expanding the basketball court, installing workout equipment, and adding picnic tables and benches to help make the park “more people-friendly” for both younger and older generations in the neighborhood.
Michael Bickerstaff, a 27-year-old community engagement representative for the basketball-based app Fullcourt, also said funding should be increased for community parks outside the downtown area, which have historically gone without it.
“There’s a lot of neighborhoods on government assistance on 10th St. to Portland (Ave.), and in the back of those apartment complexes, a lot of kids play at those parks,” Bickerstaff said. “But they’re old and they need changes. It’s kind of a safety and a health hazard. We need to see those parks improved because some of the people living in those areas don’t really have transportation, and that’s the first place they’ll go.”
Where can people go to submit feedback for park funding?
The final “open house” sessions for the project’s first phase will be held in mid- to late April at various sites.
Monday, April 17, 3 to 5 p.m., Capitol Hill Library, 327 SW 27th St.Tuesday, April 18, 5 to 7 p.m., South Oklahoma City Chamber, 701 W Instertate 240 Service RoadThursday, April 20, 5 to 7 p.m., Minnis Lakeview Recreation Center, 12520 NE 36th St.Saturday, April 22, 9 to 11 a.m., Lake Overholser Boathouse & Cafe, 3115 E Overholser Drive,
Additional “pop-up” events are planned from late April through early May, before consultants prepare the second phase.
Sunday, April 22, noon to 5 p.m., Festival Día del Nino, 741 SW 29th St.Saturday, April 29, 9 a.m. to noon, Annual Hispanic Health Fair & Mobile Clinic, Moore Norman Technology Center, 13301 S Pennsylvania AvenueSaturday, May 6, noon to 5 p.m., oNE OKC Homecoming Weekend, Booker T. Washington Park, NE 4th St.
Residents are also encouraged to leave comments and take the parks project’s online survey at Maps4Parks.com.