The Enid News and Eagle, Enid, OK

Local and State News

March 18, 2014

Commission: ‘Boomer’ will stay in center plaza

ENID, Okla. — Despite an alternate plan pushed by city staff and another request to delay the vote, a majority of Enid city commissioners said the life-size bronze statue of a Cherokee Strip Land Run rider should go in a plaza surrounded by Enid Event Center and Convention Hall.

The yet-to-be built downtown hotel will sit directly north of Boomer after it’s placed on a raised portion of the plaza — possibly later this summer.

Two weeks ago, Ward 1 Commissioner Ron Janzen told his fellow commissioners that sculptor Harold T. Holden and his wife, Edna Mae Holden, recommended the spot.

Tuesday night, though, Assistant City Manager Joan Riley offered another solution: Relocate the city’s Doughboy statue on one side of Public Library of Enid and Garfield County and place Boomer in a landscaped spot on the other.

“These two statues are two of the icons of Enid,” she said. “My thought, and the thought of staff who did this research, is how awesome it would be from a historic and educational point of view to place the Doughboy statue back in its original position on the west side of the library lawn, and Boomer close to the original position of the Land Office on the east side.”

That spot, she added, could complement other planned improvements in the area, including a downtown trail, Renaissance green space and a retail area next to the proposed hotel.

“It could be designed specifically for him, from the ground up. It would give you a place to walk, to sit, to learn more about the history,” Riley said.

When the next budget cycle begins later this spring, the city already has plans to eliminate the raised area to the east of the library. Plans call for removal of the low brick wall and a gentle sloping of the lawn to sidewalk level.

“If we’re going to do that, what else could we do to enhance the further of downtown from the civic area and beautify the next block?” Riley said.

Janzen, however, stuck with his own proposal.

“I still think that’s the best location for it,” he said. “When Boomer was donated to the city, it was donated to be placed in connection with the existing conference center that was being built at the time. To me, we’ve got an ideal location there at the west end of the plaza. It’s a perfect placement.”

Dr. David Vanhooser, commissioner for Ward 6, said he received about 20 calls over the past two weeks from people supporting Janzen’s proposal. With the staff’s recommendation, though, he asked the vote be tabled until the next commission meeting April 1 so it could be considered by the public.

Janzen pressed his motion, which was seconded by Ward 2 Commissioner Mike Stuber.

“I don’t see any reason to kick this around,” Janzen said.

Mayor Bill Shewey, Ward 3 Commissioner Ben Ezzell and Rodney Timm of Ward 4 joined them in approving the location.

Vanhooser and Ward 5 Commissioner Tammy Wilson voted against it.

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