Mary Margaret Jones, with park consultant Hargreaves Associates, presented conceptual designs Oct. 25 at the second public meeting at the Ronald J. Norick Downtown Library. The three designs were accompanied by models showing where trees, water features and amenities might be placed in the 70-acre, $132 million park. In the survey, bike paths topped the wish list for respondents, followed by barbecue pits and playgrounds.
All of the options show the northwest corner of park at Robinson and the proposed boulevard to offer a plaza facing the Chesapeake Arena. Jones called that a “100-percent corner” that could feature a plaza, and then lead into the park. It is divided into an upper park from north of Interstate 40 to the boulevard, and a lower park that would reach south almost to the Oklahoma River. Jones said survey respondents indicated access to the river was important. She said they will be mindful of that connection, even though the park ends just before the river on S.W. 15 Street.
“Our scope of work doesn’t actually touch the riverbank,” she said. “But we set in place a park system that reaches to the edge of that.”
The first design option showed an upper park with consolidated features, programs and a building, while the lower park would be more passive with ample trees and meandering walkways. It would include two smaller bodies of water just south of a great lawn.
The second option included nodes of things to see and do throughout the park. That option included a lake that would reach from the great lawn to just north of Union Station. Jones said Union Station is a great asset, and will be included in all the options.
“It needs to be part of our long-term, master plan,” she said.
Option No. 3 would not include the body of water, and orient programming toward Robinson, with more open spaces on the west.
The great lawn option would include an oval-shaped, green space that would be flat on the north side and gently slope upward. It could also include a feature such as a band shell for performances.
Parking around the park would include 600-800 spaces, depending on the parking configuration.
When the park is completed, Jones said it would be important to find ways to keep it running from administrations to upkeep. Options included public and private dollars, as well as earned income from parking, renting event spaces and concessions.
“You can’t just build it and walk away,” she said. “You have to program it.”
Despite three plans for citizens to peruse, Jones said nothing is set in stone. She will return for a final public meeting in December, before her team begins to compile the master plan recommendation.