By Robert Barron, Staff Writer
Enid News and Eagle
ENID, Okla. —
Members of the community are being asked to turn out Saturday to help build a playground at Champion Park .
The workday will be 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday at the park, which is at 10th and Chestnut, and is sponsored by the Austin Box Foundation.
The city of Enid swapped property with Enid Public Schools several years ago, with the city receiving the former Wilson School property in return for the site of the old Gore Park, which was used by EPS for the site of the new Garfield Elementary School. The city planned to build a park at the Wilson site, but could not begin construction until Wilson Head Start program completed its contract for use of the old school building.
Whitney Box, who is director of strategic and long-range planning for the city, was asked to design the park. At the time, her brother, Austin, recently had died from an overdose of painkillers. Austin was a star football and baseball player at Enid High School and played football at the University of Oklahoma.
Whitney Box designed Champion Park, which has not yet been funded by the city, but whose plan has been approved by the city commission.
“My personal life spilled over into the project, and I designed it with him in mind,” she said.
“Austin died May 19, 2011, about the time I was in the process of designing the park, and it sort of took on a life of its own,” she said.
The park already contains a splash pad the shape of a football field. It is designed as an athletic park to get kids moving and more active, she said.
“It’s a personal thing and it’s very exciting,” Box said.
The park will contain logos from OU, Oklahoma State University, Northwestern Oklahoma State University and Northern Oklahoma College. Box said she hopes some OU and OSU athletes will attend the event Saturday. Several have acknowledged they will come, if their schedules allow.
Jumbo Foods is donating bottles of water and Wings to Go restaurant is donating plates of wings on behalf of the foundation. The park was not designed specifically for Austin Box, but as a tribute to his memory, Whitney Box said.
“It will be the premier large park in town,” she said.
The park will feature state-of-the-art equipment that has never been used in Enid before, she said. Kids of all ages will be entertained, she said, and the park contains safety aspects and is handicapped accessible. It will be composed of a turf surface that is low maintenance, but highly rated as a playground, she said.
The workday is a day to prepare the park for opening. Some equipment will be installed, she said. She urged people to wear closed-toed shoes and comfortable work clothing, but said people do not need to bring tools.
The splash pad was completed about a year ago, and the school building was demolished earlier this year. The gymnasium was not demolished because it was built in the 1980s, and was in better condition than the rest of the structure. When the park is complete, the gymnasium will be available for rent.
Oklahoma Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs will be present during Saturday with its drug dog. The Austin Box Foundation is working with OBNDD on prevention of prescription drug abuse.
“We hope to bring people out and raise awareness of prescription drug abuse,” Box said. “That’s the reason for the foundation.”