Greater Oklahoma City Chamber - Three concepts for OKC park are unveiled

Three concepts for OKC park are unveiled

Friday, October 26, 2012

by Michael Kimball

The Oklahoman

Consultants unveiled plans Thursday for Oklahoma City’s MAPS 3 urban park that aim to strike a balance between natural landscapes, man-made amenities and sustainable land use.   

Three design concepts were revealed at Thursday’s meeting, the second of three planning meetings conducted by Hargreaves Associates consultants and city officials. The concepts are based on planning documents and feedback from more than 1,600 Oklahoma City area residents who filled out an online survey after the first meeting.   

The main difference in the concepts is where the so-called “programmed” areas of the park are. Programmed portions of the park have a specific purpose, like a basketball court or dog release area or a playground, whereas other parts will be more like natural landscapes.

Commonalities

All three of the design concepts feature a grand lawn near the northeast corner of the park, which the consultants consider a focus because it shares an intersection with Chesapeake Energy Arena and the future MAPS 3 convention center and downtown boulevard.   

The grand lawn can be used for large events or for informal recreation.   

“We feel a lot of excitement about a large performance venue,” said Mary Margaret Jones, a Hargreaves senior principal.  

The designs also will incorporate the elements of the park deemed most desirable by the people who filled out the online survey. Bicycle paths, bodies of water, space for festivals and open-air markets, nature walks, community gardens and a river boardwalk were all among top choices.   

In general, each design also features heavily programmed areas of the park at the northern and southern edges, but the section of the park south of I-40 has more natural landscaping.   

“We almost have sort of a bar bell of activity at both ends of our park,” Jones said.  

Consultants and city officials also intend to make the park as sustainable as possible, with efficient use of water and energy in mind.

Differences

The first design presented Thursday has most of the programmed parts of the park on the northern edge, similar to the density of programming at the Myriad Botanical Gardens. As the park spills to the south, it would be more like a natural space in the middle of the city, with a meandering path winding through trees.  

“You might discover along that (path) art, or you might discover activity stations,” Jones said.  

The second design some programming in the northern section, along with a lake that is much larger than the one in the first plan. But the second design spreads its programming throughout the park, with paths connecting several nodes of developed park space all the way from the downtown core to the river. 

“It’s a very different way of moving through the park,” Jones said.   

The third design concentrates the programmed areas of the park along its eastern edge, Robinson Avenue.   

Consultants predict that side of the park will have more commercial developments appear, while the western edge will spur more residential developments that would benefit from more open spaces and trails for families.   

The final design is likely to include elements from all three plans.   

Feedback
Feedback from the roughly 100 people who attended the meeting at the Ronald J. Norick Downtown Library was mostly positive.   

Oklahoma City residents who asked questions and provided feedback voiced a strong preference for affordable or free parking near the park, along with access to public transit.   

People also expressed a desire for portions that look like a natural Oklahoma landscape, and a park that is as accessible and attractive to fit and energetic people as it is to those who want to take it slow and relax, and to people with disabilities.   

The $132 million, 70-acre park is a cornerstone of the MAPS 3 program and will extend from the downtown core to the Oklahoma River, with the northern and southern sections joined by the Skydance Bridge spanning Interstate 40.   

The consultants are due back in Oklahoma City at another public meeting in December to reveal their finalized park plan, based in part on feedback generated from Thursday’s meeting.