O’Connor: Bringing life to underused spacePublished: Thursday, August 31, 2017 By: Cathy O'Connor Source: The Journal Record
Red Andrews Park is one of several parks in Oklahoma City that are getting makeovers.
Earlier this month, civic leaders broke ground on Midtown’s only public green space to begin the revitalization project, which includes a sun lawn, walking path, volleyball court, new lighting and landscaping and a covered pavilion. The $1 million renovation was funded through bond funds, tax increment financing and private donations.
The revitalization of Red Andrews Park is more than cosmetic. A well-planned green space gets people out to interact with their neighbors and community. It also encourages placemaking – a space where people want to host events and create gatherings.
Campbell Park in Automobile Alley is another downtown park that is seeing new life – and bursts of color. Once known as a high-crime area, Campbell Park, renamed Campbell Art Park, now is becoming known for its inclusion in the Oklahoma Contemporary Arts Center campus. In addition to it being a place to host special events, renowned art installations, such as the bright red rope of the Terra exhibit or the reflective spheres of Cloud City, have brought hundreds of visitors to the park.
Kerr Park, at Broadway and Robert S. Kerr avenues, is also getting ready for a $225,000 upgrade, thanks to the Southwest Airlines Heart of the Community grant and Project for Public Spaces. Downtown OKC Inc. has held two workshops at the park for public input about new amenities and programming that could be added. The public is encouraged to fill out an online survey for further input. The survey is available until Thursday.
These park revitalizations improve our quality of life. They help us escape office buildings, cars and urban stress and give us open spaces to relax and play. They build connections, strengthen communities and encourage fitness. Community development and decreases in crime rate follow improved green spaces, making investment in our parks pay dividends for a better place to live, raise a family and build a business.
Cathy O’Connor is the president of the Alliance for Economic Development of Oklahoma City.