The Enid News and Eagle, Enid, OK

Local news

December 22, 2012

City of Enid parks proposal plans were generated from public surveys conducted in 2008

ENID, Okla. — Enid residents will vote March 5 on a pair of proposals that would generate $50 million in revenue to upgrade the city’s parks system.

Enid City Commissioners voted unanimously Thursday to send a pair of ballot questions to voters: one to raise $20 million by increasing the city sales tax rate by one-half cent for five years, and one to pay for $30 million in general obligation bonds by extending an existing 7 mill ad valorem tax. The 7 mill ad valorem tax previously was enacted to fund city bridge improvements.

Enid City Manager Eric Benson said the path to the current parks plan began with public surveys in 2008. In anticipation of the current bridge bonds expiring, and other debt obligations maturing, Benson said the city wanted to see what citizens would want to do with money freed up for capital investment.

“What we were shocked to find, was more than 70 percent of respondents said parks and recreation was a good use for that money,” Benson said.

The city subsequently commissioned an inventory of the city’s parks by the Tulsa architectural and site planning firm Howell and Vancuren.

The firm’s findings were developed into a plan that would: renovate all existing parks; build two new neighborhood parks; build a large community park at 30th and Randolph, to include a water park, pool or other water feature; and expand on the city’s trail system. It all would be funded by the combination of continuing the existing 7 mill ad valorem tax and increasing city sales tax by one-half cent for a term of five years.

Benson said the parks plan “is a grassroots response to a grassroots need,” a direct response to the public’s input.

If approved by voters, the majority of the parks plan would be funded by the $30 million in bond issues. According to the city proposition, $21 million of the $30 million would be split between construction of two new city parks and upgrades to existing neighborhood parks.

The $21 million would represent more than 70 percent of the bond issue, meeting the statutory requirement that at least 70 percent of city bonds be earmarked for specific projects.

The largest development in the bond plan would be a new park at 30th and Randolph, which would include “softball fields, soccer fields, football fields, outdoor basketball courts, playgrounds, a skate park, picnic shelters, restrooms and concession facilities” at a cost of $13.4 million.

A new park would be located in the city’s central business district, “with lighting and speakers, a decorative water feature, site furnishings and landscaping,” at a cost of about $820,000.

The remaining $6.8 million would be split between improvement projects at all of the city’s neighborhood parks.

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