Oklahoma City to unveil park after year of rebuilding
OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — A yearlong effort to bring life back to downtown’s rebuilt Kerr Park is set to debut in June thanks to a collaborative effort between Southwest Airlines, SandRidge Energy and Downtown Oklahoma City Partnership.
The park, first opened in 1975 by Kerr-McGee Corp., was closed a few years ago as aging fountains and a crumbling plaza proved to be too costly to maintain.
SandRidge, then led by Tom Ward, envisioned a park that would be overlooked by a modern, cubist “amenities building” that would be home to an employee day care, auditorium, gym, rock-climbing walls and a restaurant on the ground floor above a new park that would replace the tile plaza with a shaded lawn.
A couple of years into the project, however, energy prices plunged. Ward left SandRidge and the company along with others in the city laid off workers and struggled to survive the plunging market. SandRidge survived and built the park as promised — without the participation of Chesapeake as originally promised by its former CEO, the late Aubrey McClendon.
The amenities building was converted into an office building that has stood empty since completion three years ago. And when the park reopened in 2016, the crowds appeared for the occasional event hosted by Downtown Oklahoma City Partnership, but otherwise was a pretty desolate place day to day.
Downtown Oklahoma City Partnership successfully applied for a $200,000 place-making “Heart of the Community” grant provided by Southwest Airlines that also came with consulting provided by the Project for Public Spaces. With $15,000 provided by Downtown Oklahoma City Partnership and $10,000 donated by SandRidge, the project is valued at $300,000.
After a series of workshops with the community and further planning, an assortment of amenities and improvements is on order for the park with grand reopening set for June 26, the Oklahoman reported .
The largest addition will be a colorful lit pavilion designed by Asa Highsmith with Common Works Architects. Park benches and cafe tables and seats will be located throughout the park with decorative planters with trees being added to increase shade.
A large conference table that was once used by Kerr McGee executives has been moved out of storage and is being refurbished for outdoor use by large groups.
Shaded picnic tables and a pingpong table to be painted by artist Juuri will be located along Couch Drive. Movable plastic benches and seats that double as play cubes, meanwhile, will be placed along the park’s lawn.
The kickoff for what will be referred to as “Plaza at Kerr Park” will run 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., June 26 and will include free pizza. Remarks from representatives of Southwest Airlines, the city of Oklahoma City and Downtown Oklahoma City Partnership will start at noon. The celebration will be free and open to the public.
Information from: The Oklahoman, http://www.newsok.com