A leading landscape designer Tuesday recommended a public-private partnership assume the task — and costs — of operating Oklahoma City's new downtown park.
Mary Margaret Jones, of Hargreaves Associates, discussed the park's master plan before the city council approved the concept.
“It allows the right blending of resources,” Jones said of the partnership. She leads the park design team for Hargreaves Associates.
The park will link downtown and the Oklahoma River, and is seen as a catalyst for development south of the new Oklahoma City Boulevard.
The new park will consist of 40 acres north of Interstate 40 and 30 acres between I-40 and the river, connected by the SkyDance pedestrian bridge.
At $132 million, it is one of the most expensive of the MAPS 3 projects. Construction is expected to take $80 million of the total, and be completed in 2021.
Situated south of Myriad Gardens and the MAPS 3 convention center, the park is to include gardens and fountains, a “great lawn” facing a stage, a promenade, and a lake.
A prominent feature is to be the renovated Union Station railroad depot with its grand hallways, seen as a venue for weddings, anniversary parties and the like.
Jones said costs to maintain the park once it is completed could run about $3.2 million per year.
Hosting events in the park could help pay costs, she said. The park will be designed to host both large events drawing more than 10,000 people and smaller events.
Operating expenses also could be recovered by collecting fees for nearby parking and through assessments on businesses that benefit and grow thanks to park development, she said.
Earned park income, private support through a park conservancy, and parking and development assessments could exceed operations costs within 20 years of the park's completion, Jones said.
“So you can see there's a wide range of opportunities there,” Jones told the council.
Advisory panels approved the design last month.
Two groups interested in preserving the 90-year-old Film Exchange building, within park boundaries at SW 5 Street and Robinson Avenue, have been given about three months to produce viable plans.
Otherwise it will be demolished.
Design director George Hargreaves said last month a decision to preserve the Film Exchange would increase costs for park design and delay construction.