Mary Margaret Jones, senior principal at Hargreaves Associates, the city’s consultant on the project, said it is important to consider many elements when making decisions about the park, such as Oklahoma’s climate, existing and future development in the area, and the impact that park features will have on future long-term maintenance.
“We’re trying to make sure we’re leveraging this park in relation to the other things happening downtown,” she said. “We’re trying to make the right kinds of connections.”
The planned park is 70 acres total, with a 40-acre northern section bounded by the former Interstate-40 alignment on the north and the interstate’s current stretch on the south, between Hudson and Robinson avenues. The southern section is below the new section of I-40 and runs to the Oklahoma River, connected to the north section by the iconic SkyDance Bridge.
Around $132 million of the $777 million in MAPS 3 funds is set aside for construction of the park. The source of funding for ongoing maintenance and governance of the park has yet to be decided.
Jones presented the crowd with a number of ideas from parks around the country and world. She spoke of some of the current and future requirements for the park, as well as several options for its ongoing maintenance and support.
Ideas from the crowd during the meeting varied widely. Suggestions included measures to reduce noise from the nearby interstate, a carousel featuring animals that figured prominently in Oklahoma’s history, spaces to accommodate food trucks and the inclusion of wireless Internet hotspots. One little girl who addressed the meeting suggested a castle with a moat around it.
Residents can continue to provide feedback by way of a survey online at okc.gov/maps3. The next meeting will be Oct. 25, with the final meeting in December. Jones said the consultants hope to have a master plan of the park drawn up by spring.
“All of that will come together to create a world-class park,” she said. “It’s important that it be uniquely Oklahoma City.”
Land acquisition for the north park is around 95 percent complete and construction on that section is scheduled to begin in 2013. The area along the planned boulevard and connecting to SkyDance Bridge is scheduled to be completed first, followed by the upper park and then the lower park.