The MAPS 3 Citizen Advisory Board approved project requirements Thursday that leave no doubt the Core to Shore park is the most ambitious urban green space endeavor in the state.
The term requirements is slightly misleading, because the 17-page document must be approved by the City Council and serves only as a starting point for more public involvement down the line. But the MAPS 3 parks subcommittee spent months talking to stakeholders, city residents and consultants and created the framework for the massive project that shows what people have expressed the most interest in.
The 70-acre park, which will stretch from the south end of downtown to the Oklahoma River in upper and lower sections joined by the Skydance Bridge, also is intended to spur private development along its edges in what is currently a blighted swath of the urban core.
Sports, concerts and dogs
The ideas for amenities in the park include something for just about everyone, and parks subcommittee chairman Kimberly Lowe said the hope is everyone finds a reason to go to and love the park.
“I get goose bumps thinking about my grandchildren and hopefully my great-grandchildren going to the park,” Lowe said during a bus tour of the park site for board members.
The document calls for a large space that could serve as a concert venue or just an open area for leisure activity, plus bodies of water. An off-leash dog park, boardwalk beer garden, facilities for pickup sports, trails, extensive landscaping, concessions, an events center, paddle boats, a par-3 golf course, formal gardens and restaurants are items on a long list of things the committee says people would like to see in the park.
If that seems like a lot, it is — but the sprawling park should have room for all of that and more, officials said.
Space and infrastructure for events such as the Festival of the Arts, flower markets and art exhibitions are also on the list of desires, along with simple pleasures like a place to sit in the shade and watch people go by in a pretty and natural setting.
The city is conducting a survey of buildings in the park's footprint to identify any that could qualify for the National Register of Historic Places. Lowe and others hope to incorporate into the park's design especially important or beautiful buildings, notably the citadel building the Salvation Army currently calls its local home and the city-owned Union Station, to give it immediate historical roots and added atmosphere.
Many of the older and mature trees will likely be kept. Efficient use of resources will be a hallmark of the park, and officials plan to use renewable energy sources for power when possible and to reuse rainwater as part of irrigation efforts.
The MAPS 3 board approved a recommendation to the city council that the city hires Hargreaves Associates, a consultancy, to begin forming a master plan for the park. Formulation of the master plan will involve plenty of opportunities for public input and comments.
“One of the things ... that really made Hargreaves stand out (from other consultants who bid) was their all-encompassing look at the project from what's underneath the ground, what's on top of the ground, what's above the ground,” Lowe said. “And then once the park is built, how do you maintain it? How do you operate it?”
A mess of power lines and buildings, some already owned by the city and some that will soon be owned by the city, must be cleared before visible work on the park begins in earnest. And the city must find a way to squeeze the park's operating costs into future budgets.
The board recommended approval of a $116,000 contract with Johnson and Associates Inc. for engineering services for the park to take care of some housekeeping items before the heavy lifting begins.
“There are utility surveys that need to be completed, (and) there's right of way and property boundary surveys that need to be completed,” Public Works Director Eric Wenger told the board.