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Who is Excited About the Future Core to Shore Park?

by Steve Lackmeyer Published: January 15, 2014

I’m surprised there was such little coverage of the city council approving new plans for the future Core to Shore park to be built south of the future Crosstown Boulevard (sorry Mayor Cornett, that’s the name given by ODOT on the signs!), north of Union train depot and between Robinson and Hudson Avenues.

If the park is done right, it could very well be a huge boost to economic development of this blighted area. The right park could be a destination offering something not found anywhere else in Oklahoma City. And at a cost of $132 million, maybe we can dream of it becoming the most exciting urban park in the state.
Looking at the following images, it’s easy to get excited:

An adventure playground!
An adventure playground!
A  modern beer garden!
A modern beer garden!
Cool pedestrian bridges over the new pond!
Cool pedestrian bridges over the new pond!
An elaborate garden very different than those at the Myriad Gardens!
An elaborate garden very different than those at the Myriad Gardens!
A turtle island!
A turtle island!
A cool mist mountain!
A cool mist mountain!
A cool entry lodge!
A cool entry lodge!
Look at this lodge!
Look at this lodge!

What’s even better is the the $125 million – $150 million in public spending for this park is being matched by tens of millions being contributed by area corporate sponsors.
Oh wait… I digress. Did I mention these renderings are the new “Gathering Place” park being developed in Tulsa? To date I’ve heard nothing about corporate donors or foundations excitedly lining up to contribute the Core to Shore park’s construction or operation, even though site clearance has already started.
The Tulsa project is being designed by Michael Van Valkenburgh, who competed to design Oklahoma City’s park. But Oklahoma City engineers (the hiring committee did not include city planners) chose to hire Hargreaves Associates, which was first hired by the city in 2009 to create a model and conceptual drawings of the proposed Core to Shore park in advance of the MAPS 3 election.
OK, OK… let’s get to renderings for a park being built closer to home….

OK. This isn’t quite as exciting as Tulsa’s park. But it’s not bad either. It will boast a community recreation center, aquatic venue, farmers market, amphitheater and walking trails. And the $25.1 million cost is a fraction of the MAPS 3 $132 million budget.
Oh wait… oh dear. This is “Central Park,” as the MAPS 3 campaign listed the Core to Shore park. But it’s a central park set to be built in Moore.
Please forgive me.
I promise, I will now show renderings created by Hargreaves Associates for the Oklahoma City Core to Shore park.

Wait, wait, wait…. please don’t lose patience with me. But these were renderings created with just a couple of months to get them done before the 2009 MAPS 3 campaign. Hargreaves was hired for millions of dollars to do far more extensive work during a separate competition involving top park design firms from across the country.
OK, I promise, these following renderings represent the work done by Hargreaves after extensive meetings with residents, a citizens’ review committee and city leaders. The following master plan was recently approved with minimal discussion by the city council. These involved far more work and obviously will be drastically different from what was seen in 2009:

Final note: this project will create a downtown park that will boast trails, a lake, a kids water spray attraction, botanical gardens, a restaurant and an amphitheater. Let’s imagine what such a downtown park might look like …

by Steve Lackmeyer
Business Reporter
Steve Lackmeyer is a reporter, columnist and author who started his career at The Oklahoman in 1990. Since then, he has won numerous awards for his coverage, which included the 1995 bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building, the city's...
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