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Oklahoma City's Myriad Gardens to receive makeover

BY STEVE LACKMEYER Modified: November 9, 2009 at 1:11 pm •  Published: October 9, 2009
Pickel and others, meanwhile, acknowledge a makeover was needed but also wanted to ensure the gardens would remain.

"We don’t want to kill the botanical features of this garden,” Pickel said. "It was a big struggle. There are people who use this garden every day. ... We think over this time that we’ve struck a fairly good balance. It went from being purely gardens to purely a park and now we’re in the middle.”

Devon commissioned a survey of the gardens’ trees that looked at their health and estimated life span. From that designers have outlined a surgical removal of about 30 percent of the trees that they hope won’t detract from the green cover that took 20 years to grow.

The removal of some trees was deemed critical to attracting visitors, Nichols said, with new trails being designed at each corner as spokes leading directly to the Crystal Bridge.

The grand lawn, just south of Sheridan Avenue, also will require tree removal — and the removal of the north leg of the Myriad Gardens lake.

Wendel Whisenhunt, Oklahoma City parks director, said the lake segment has been a troublesome collector of trash and debris for years and has never been one of the gardens’ better features.

The grand lawn and amphitheater also will replace blighted old tunnels and glassed-in rooms created years ago when city fathers hoped to connect the gardens with a shopping mall across the street.

That site is now where Devon’s 50-story tower is being built. Schematic designs for the gardens were approved Wednesday. If all goes as planned, the gardens makeover will start right after the 2010 Festival of the Arts with completion by spring 2011.

Nichols is aware that some comparisons might be drawn up between his own ambitions for downtown and the man who made the Myriad Gardens possible – late oilman Dean A. McGee.

"It’s been an eye-opening experience to see what’s here and what can be here,” Nichols said.

"To build on the traditions of what Dean A. McGee did, to keep what was good and not what is not working — I think he would be delighted.”

"It’s been an eye-opening experience to see what’s here and what can be here. To build on the traditions of what Dean A. McGee did, to keep what was good and not what is not working — I think he would be delighted."
Larry Nichols
Devon Energy CEO

Myriad Gardens changes

→Dogs currently are prohibited from the gardens, but that ban will go away with the addition of an enclosed dog park southeast of the Crystal Bridge.

→A children’s area on the southwest corner of the gardens will include a new fountain, huts, a large slide and other interactive features designed to promote awareness of botany and nature.

→A cafe where visitors can buy sandwiches, snacks and drinks will be built between the children’s area, the fountain and the existing water stage.

→A retractable roof will be added to the seating section of the water stage.

→A more formal sit-down restaurant will be built east of the Crystal Bridge. Designs call for a rooftop dining patio that could be used for special events.

→A stream and a series of cascading water features using native stone from southeastern Oklahoma will be built from the corner of Sheridan and Robinson avenues to the gardens lake.

→A shallow water pool similar to the one at the Oklahoma City National Memorial & Museum will be built next to the restaurant and will be converted to an ice rink every winter.

→An amphitheater and grand lawn will be added in the gardens’ northwest corner, just south of Sheridan Avenue, and will be big enough to host 5,000 people.

→Two parking lots within the gardens will be removed to accommodate some of the improvements. Curbside parking will be added along every street around the gardens except Sheridan Avenue, resulting in several more spaces than are currently available.

→A new south facade and grand entryway will be created to the south end of the Crystal Bridge.


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