EASTER IN THE PARK

Rehabilitation of biking and horse paths at Mohawk Park are on the minds of Tulsa Parks planners with funding included in the Improve Our Tulsa tax extension that goes before voters in November. MIKE SIMONS/Tulsa World

Often ignored — or worse, targeted during times of municipal financial stress — Tulsa’s parks are overdue for some basic maintenance and a little revitalization.

Some $30 million from the Improve Our Tulsa tax renewal program, which goes before voters in November, is designed for the city’s park and recreation facilities, including:

• Basic mechanical and engineering projects, including roofs, air conditioning and heating, and security upgrades;

• Upgrades to outdoor playgrounds throughout the park system;

• Rehabilitation and replacement of some of the city’s 111 tennis courts; and, in some cases, with the consultation of neighborhoods and park users, replacement of those courts with amenities that fill a more important need;

• Rehabilitation and upgrades for Johnson Park facilities;

• Improvements to Ben Hill Park;

• Rehabilitation and renovation of neglected facilities at Mohawk Park; and

• Fountain rehabilitation at Swan Lake.

The $639 million Improve Our Tulsa renewal package designates two-thirds of its spending on roads, bridges and related work. If approved, the package would not raise tax rates.

The parks portion of the package is a balanced, needs-driven program that targets projects that can make a difference for neighborhoods and the city at large.

The work planned for Ben Hill Recreation Center and Johnson Park are especially important because those projects recognize the unmet potential of parks to change lives and revitalize communities. The opposite is also true: Parks and recreation centers allowed to deteriorate will drag down their surrounding neighborhoods. The critical element in these projects is for the city to listen to what the parks’ users and potential users want and shape the facilities to that end.

When times are rough at City Hall, parks seem to be the first place to get cut. The results always seem to be the same because of an underlying assumption that parks are an extra, a frill, somehow not an essential part of the city’s future.

That’s wrong. We’re pleased to see high-priority park projects getting a fair share of the Improve Our Tulsa capital program. It recognizes that if the city is to have a thriving future, it has to invest in quality-of-life improvements that will make Tulsa a place where people want to live, work and raise families.


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