An ice skating rink, model boat rentals, an amphitheater and restaurant are among the amenities planned for a proposed downtown central park.
At a MAPS 3 presentation hosted Thursday by the Greater Oklahoma City Chamber, central park designer Mary Margaret Jones showed plans that call for a zigzagging lake surrounded by a great lawn, a large amphitheater for up to 15,000 people, a smaller amphitheater for 2,000 people, a large children’s play area, a dog park comparable to the one at Lake Hefner and a restaurant.
“This project is the kind of project we’re seeing in cities across the country and they are really transforming these communities,” said Jones, who is a senior principal at San Francisco-based Hargreaves Associates.
The 70-acre central park is expected to cost $130 million and is one of eight projects set to be funded by a one-cent MAPS 3 sales tax being submitted to voters on Dec. 8. It would be built one block south of the Myriad Gardens and is the centerpiece of the Core to Shore development led by Mayor Mick Cornett.
A restaurant and ice skating rink, small children’s play area, a small fenced area for dogs, amphitheater for 5,000 people and model boat rentals meanwhile are among $30 million of improvements set to begin next year at the Myriad Gardens. The improvements are funded through a tax increment financing district requested by Devon Energy in conjunction with construction of its $750 million, 50-story headquarters just north of the gardens.
“I’m happy to say we (design teams on both projects) are working together very well,” Jones said when asked about the similarities of the two projects. “We’re complimenting each other. Where the ice rink ends up downtown is still under discussion.”
Jones said only the gardens or park will likely be home to an ice rink and that the central park would be a better fit for accommodating a larger venue. She said multiple amphitheaters might be a plus for downtown.
“It’s good to have both,” Jones said. “You can have something small happening in the Myriad Gardens and something large going on in the central park, and it’s that vibrancy and going back and forth that will make both better.”
Cornett said the gardens’ ice rink, however, is on its way to becoming a reality with his blessing. Conceptual plans were approved last week and more advanced schematic designs are to be submitted to the city council for approval next month. Construction is set to start in May.
“The Myriad Gardens should go ahead, be planned, and be in accordance with the streetscape projects and Devon tower and go ahead as if it’s free standing,” Cornett said. “I think it’s interesting the gardens seem to be borrowing some elements typically thought of as being in parks. I don’t think that’s a bad thing.”
Cornett said a lot of the programming for the central park won’t be certain until after its fate is decided by voters. Cornett said in recent days he has decided to drop plans to pursue underground parking at the park, citing its excessive cost.
He said the public has the same challenges understanding the park as they did the Bricktown Canal when it was first proposed as part of the original 1993 Metropolitan Area Projects initiative.
“It’s just so different than anything they’ve seen in Oklahoma City before,” Cornett said. “It’s difficult to comprehend. People who have been exposed to urban parks in other cities are very excited.”
The deadline to register as a voter in Oklahoma City if you want to vote on the MAPS 3 initiative is Nov. 13. Voters can register at their county election board.