Partnership brings park to lifePublished: Wednesday, July 18, 2018 By: Cathy O'Connor Source: The Journal Record
This Saturday is the unveiling of the newly renovated Red Andrews Park. Located at 720 NW Eighth St., the Midtown park once consisted of a municipal gym, a play area and large parking lot. The unveiling will show a different, more vibrant and interesting park due to a successful public-private partnership.
The idea began several years ago when the city allocated funds to repair the Red Andrews Park parking lot and upgrade the park’s municipal gym. Residents and area businesses began working with the city of Oklahoma City to figure out a way to renew the park in a way that expanded its use and encouraged more people to interact with the space. The question was how to fund the renovations. The answer – a public-private partnership. The $1 million renovation was funded through bond funds, tax increment financing and private donations. Fitzsimmons Architects created the design.
One of the exciting components of the park is that it was redesigned for different interests and uses. It has a volleyball court and a renovated Johnnie Williams Gymnasium, which continues to have an active basketball league. The park also includes a sun lawn, a walking path with mature trees, a public art piece, and new lighting and landscaping to encourage people to get out and enjoy the green space. The new design also includes a covered pavilion that can double as a stage for outdoor concerts. The redesign means more reasons for residents, families and employees of surrounding businesses to gather and host events.
Public-private partnerships for parks are increasing across the country. These partnerships successfully combine the needs, wants and assets of the public and private sectors in a way that improves quality of life, raises property values and gives the surrounding area a sense of ownership of the park.
There are longtime examples of these partnerships, such as Central Park in New York and Balboa Park in San Diego, California, but historically they have been focused on large public areas. Red Andrews Park is a great example of how public-private partnerships can be successful in a more localized area. I expect we will see more opportunities for such partnerships in the future.
Cathy O’Connor is the president of the Alliance for Economic Development of Oklahoma City.