The Enid News and Eagle, Enid, OK

October 30, 2012

$50 million plan seeks to improve existing parks, build community facility

By Robert Barron, Staff Writer
Enid News and Eagle

ENID, Okla. — One of the goals of the city of Enid’s parks master plan is to improve existing neighborhood parks, along with building two new neighborhood parks and a large community park.

Ward 1 Commissioner Ron Janzen reminded other city commission members Monday night Enid residents wanted local parks to be a focus. The master plan is being developed based on a survey done for the city by Howell and Vancuren.

“I feel like we’ve had some needs in our existing parks for a long, long time we haven’t met,” Janzen said. “For that reason, they should be considered in the first phase.”

Janzen, a longtime supporter of Enid parks, said one of the things mentioned prominently in the survey was restrooms, the lack of restrooms and poor condition of them in parks.

“In the years I have been involved with parks and the park board, that has been the No. 1 complaint. That is something we should address in the first phase, instead of postponing it,” Janzen said.

The 10-year, $50 million parks plan divides work into three phases.

The first phase will take about five years and will include community parks Government Springs South, Meadowlake, Crosslin, a new community park at 30th and Randolph, Enid Soccer Complex, Government Springs North, Kellet and a new central park. The central park could be established in the green space south of the Enid Event Center. The first phase also includes neighborhood parks AMBUCS, Champion, Champlin, Champlin Pool, Don Haskins, Glenwood, Hoover, Lions, Phillips Southern Heights and a new northwest park.

See artist's rendering of proposed community park project

Phase two would include community parks Government Springs South, Crosslin, the new community park at 30th and Randolph and Government Springs Park. Neighborhood parks in the second phase would be Champlin Pool, Don Haskins, Glenwood, a new northeast park, Frisco, La Mesa, Meadows, Monsees, skate park and Weldon.

Phase three would include the new community park on 30th, neighborhood parks Champlin Pool, Oakwood and the water plant lake, and the north leg of the north connector of the master trail.

Of the $50 million cost, $20 million would be for individual neighborhood parks.

The project would be financed by a 20-year extension of general obligation bond issue approved for bridge work and a five-year, half-cent in-rease in sales tax. The first phase will cost an estimated $20.8 million. The remainder of the expected $30 million total will be phased in as needs arise, officials said.

The east-side community park would include an outdoor water park with a number of water features, including a lazy river and large swimming pool. The swimming pool would replace the deteriorating Champlin Pool. New ball fields also will be part of the community park, while the number of soccer and softball fields will be determined by community demand. The park also will include new youth football fields, parking, tennis courts and a skate park.

An indoor community center will include basketball courts, a multipurpose center and a gymnasium.

The goals and objective outlines in the preliminary plan studied by the commission include promoting safety and security in the parks and trails system. To accomplish that, the plan would place lighting in parks and along trails at a sufficient level to promote a sense of security, and allow a reasonable level of visual surveillance. The plan also calls for upgrading and replacing existing playgrounds to meet safety standards published by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission.

The plan also calls for studying solar powered, emergency call stations in parks and along trails, and routine and frequent police surveillance, particularly at night to reduce unwanted activity and vandalism.

Recreational sites would be maintained by providing adequate trash containers at convenient locations, providing weed control through herbicide use or other practices to limit growth of stickers as much as possible. Irrigation would be considered in selected, high-visibility parks, and commissioners would consider separate staffing for parks. Some functions could be outsourced.

Janzen said he wants to see money spent on parks and had told previous city commissioners parks had not been adequately funded.

“We never put the money into them or maintained them the way we should have. Other critical issues were put ahead of them. Maybe this time it’s just the parks’ turn,” Janzen said.

Ward 4 Commissioner Drew Ritchie heard the proposal for the first time Monday night and said he is excited about the plan.

“I think it’s something we desperately need in the city and something that will benefit the community,” Ritchie said.

Ritchie said he has a copy of the plan and has looked at it, but hasn’t examined it closely enough to set any priorities. Ritchie said it is important to lean toward the opinions of the three commissioners who have worked on the plan extensively, because they have experience with it. Those commissioners are Janzen, Ward 2 Commissioner Mike Stuber and Ward 5 Commissioner Tammy Wilson.

“I’ve heard some comments about the proposed location, I think it’s an excellent location and what we need for economic boost on the east side of Enid,” Ritchie said. “It would bring in a lot of private development and bring in a lot of pride in the area.”

Mayor Bill Shewey, who also heard the plan for the first time Monday, said he liked the plan and felt it is positive.

“We need to expand our parks, and the locations they picked are good. I haven’t seen anything yet that I would shift around, but there will be some shifting,” Shewey said.

The swimming pool is a big concern because of the age and deteriorating condition of Champlin Pool, he said. Shewey compared the plan to what has been done in some other towns, giving Kingfisher as an example. The community built new ballfields on the south side of town and later built a hospital. Now, there is beginning to be infill around the hospital, and he believes the same will happen in Enid.

“I thought the survey was very honest and it’s a good place to start, but it’s a lot of money,” Shewey said.