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OKC parks panel pushes changes for disabled people at Martin Park

A plan to make Martin Park Nature Center more accessible to disabled people — including resurfaced trails, a tree house and a sensory garden — will be finalized by city parks and recreation and then put before the city council for final approval.
BY ZEKE CAMPFIELD Published: December 20, 2012

Critics said they are concerned the project might disturb the center's ecosystem and asked that the commission take more time to study its impact.

Martin Park Nature Center was developed as a sanctuary for animals and should not be developed, said Carol Mears, president of the Val Verde Homeowners Association.

Neil Garrison, who retired as a naturalist at the center in 2009, said there are shortcomings to the environmental assessment.

“The new trail that is being proposed going to the southeast portion will have a major impact on wildlife,” he said.

McMahan said the proposed plan is nonintrusive, and that the resurfaced trails would be 4 feet wide and would be built with crushed stone and not paved, similar to walking paths at Myriad Botanical Gardens and the trails at Lake Hefner.

The improvements would involve less than two acres of the 144-acre center, he said.

“It's not like we're talking about needing to do drastic things to make these improvements,” he said.

In all, 11 people spoke against the plan, and nine spoke in support, including six who use wheelchairs.

Wendel Whisenhunt, director of parks and recreation for Oklahoma City, said the plan would need final approval from the council before construction begins.

He said the parks department will develop a formalized plan before presenting it to the council and that there will be more opportunities for public comment.