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October 01, 2020, 06:09:27 am
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Author Topic: Does Tulsa have beneficial parks  (Read 3047 times)
« on: June 28, 2009, 11:08:05 am »

I'm not necessarily questioning whether we have nice parks.  I think we do.  River Parks was nice and is improving by leaps and bounds.  I always love a good stroll through Woodward and the Garden.  Centennial Green has been a positive addition to downtown.  And Centennial Park/Central Park is a wonderful example of turning a utility into an asset.  And maybe beneficial is the wrong word but...
Our Parks are not economic generators.  I can't think of one that has been improved and subsequently improved the neighborhood around it more than just indirect aesthetics.  Even Centennial Park/Central Park at 6th and Peoria Av. (one of our recent crown jewels of park improvements) has not had a significant economic impact on the surrounding area - the townhomes were going in prior to the park and demand for them doesn't appear to have significantly increased with the development of that nice park.  Now, certainly the areas around our parks would be worse off without them however I can't think of one park that appears to have had a significant impact on its urban counterpart.

Example:  while RiverParks is dolling out $$$ for improvements the east side of Riverside Dr. is stagnant and I dare say nasty most of the length between 11th St. and the Creek Tnpk.  The edges of neighborhoods surrounding Woodward while mostly dignified are no different than thier contemporaries further in.  There's been no marked improvement any of our City parks. 

It seems like we do a very poor job of intertwining our City parks with the areas they are set in.  In that regard they are no better than the suburban shopping centers we so frequently deride.  Woodward would be vastly improved with a clear and pleasant walking edge and strong connection to Utica Sq. or up to Swan Lake and over to Maple Ridge.  RiverParks, in my mind, would be a significantly better experience if during the course of a stroll I could easily cross Riverside to an active urban edge -a pleasant urban promenade with a correspondingly urban built environment .

Is there any reason that Owen Park couldn't have a similarly (be it scaled) urban edge that transitioned up to the neighborhoods.

What's missing?  Anything?

And then there is this in today's World:  Fired park chief says she questioned Taylor  http://www.tulsaworld.com/news/article.aspx?subjectid=11&articleid=20090628_11_A10_Calnig201088

Our Parks Department is decimated.  There's not much to it.

Here's the inspiration for my post:Good Parks Are Good for the Economy

Granted this is comparing apples to oranges.  In NY parks are very necessary as there is very little green space in many parts.  Maybe that's it.  In Tulsa many of us have our own mini-parks behind our houses so there is less concern for common park spaces.  I still think that our parks could be significant assets and contribute to a much better built environment for our City.

Kung Fu Treachery
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« Reply #1 on: June 28, 2009, 02:11:31 pm »

Two things:

1. Riverparks <> City parks

2. Lafortune was the one who decimated the city parks system.
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« Reply #2 on: June 28, 2009, 03:39:20 pm »

I dont really think that parks should be looked at as something that spurs economic development in a particular spot. Though an attractive area can make it easier to promote economic development. Plus, in general, having a great parks system makes the entire city more appealing. I dont live near River Parks or Woodward, etc. but I would say they are plusses for me and every one else in the city.

One other thing I have learned to remind myself of is that Tulsa is still a very young and small city. For instance, for years we were accumulating all the segments of land along the lenght of the river in Tulsa and just getting basic trails and amenities in them. Just last year got a few new pieces of land in far south Tulsa donated to the city. Now we are entering a new phase of improving and further utilization of the River Parks. Its actually starting to look like a real, more matured, cities park in areas.  Plus to we are still not that developed and urban, as has been mentioned, and the park spaces havent matured in that respect either. They will be more attractive in the future as we become more urban simply because they exist in any form, fancy or not. I also think we are on the right track at the moment putting in lots of parks in and around downtown. Now is the time to do it before we, difficult as this may be to imagine now, become more "urban jungle" like. All the little pocket parks, plazas, etc. will be much appreciated open spaces and community gathering spots. 

There is so much we can do to improve our parks, but at least a good part of that has to do with the fact that a lot of them are new compared to their counterparts in older, and bigger cities.

One vision I could see for the Woodward, Rosegarden, Garden Society, History Museum area is... for Tourism.

I have visited places around the country with a lot less interest and potential, which have parlayed what they have into tourist/money making destinations.  With just a little vision and effort that area could become a nice little draw.

 Imagine a large stone gazebo in woodward park with a landscaped stream running out from under it down to the other stream. Then some giant stone urns and a small architectural feature in the Rosegarden. Then get rid of the added on space attached to the Garden Center and replace it with a grand ballroom type space, have an ice cream/sandwich shop next to that by the gift shop. Expand the Linnaeus gardens and have a sculpture or two in the gardens behind the Historical Society. Then imagine the homes surrounding all of this as being little art galleries and bed and breakfast inns and cafes.  Just adding those few extra things to what we have started would be enough to make the area a truly wonderful destination to spend half a day then take the trolley to some other destination, perhaps the churches downtown. 

"When you only have two pennies left in the world, buy a loaf of bread with one, and a lily with the other."-Chinese proverb. "Arts a staple. Like bread or wine or a warm coat in winter. Those who think it is a luxury have only a fragment of a mind. Mans spirit grows hungry for art in the same way h
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« Reply #3 on: June 29, 2009, 10:48:29 am »

While most parks in Tulsa are attractive green spaces, there is little that entices families other than to walk through that green space. Community parks need play equipment so that parents will bring their kids.

The QT park on Riverside is always busy with families because it has great interactive play equipment.
Woodward park has two sets of swings
Centennial/Central has nothing.
Owen Park has outdated play equipment and splash pad.
Maple Park/Zink parks have the play equipment sitting in the blinding sun, and it is too hot for kids to safely play.

Admittedly Woodward gets lots of traffic, especially during prom and wedding season for pictures and when the azaleas are blooming, but there is little reason to take your kids there other than to let them run wild.

I think there are generational differences at work that keep families away. When I was young I spent hours at local parks but there was little to keep me indoors and I did not want to be inside when it was nice outside. No better way to waste an afternoon then to play tag/chase games with siblings and neighboorhood kids, or to sit in the shade reading a comic book. Today kids have game devices, TV and computers that kind of suplant that imaginative play.
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« Reply #4 on: June 29, 2009, 11:40:32 am »

I don't know if you can call it a park but the Oklahoma Centennial Botanical Garden will bring tourists to the Tulsa area when it is completed:  http://www.oklahomacentennialbotanicalgarden.com/

I think kids are not playing in the public parks as much because the newer neighborhoods (where most younger couples live) have neighborhood associations with playgrounds, pools, sports fields, etc.
« Reply #5 on: June 29, 2009, 05:03:49 pm »

My question was more related to the idea that Parks in some parts of the world act as economic drivers or are at the heart and one of the primary identies of (or the reason for) a vibrant surrounding district.  I don't see any of that in Tulsa.  My observation suggest that most (if not all) of our parks are isolated and share at best relational connectivity to their surroundings.

Why don't we integrate our parks into the areas in which they are located.  Even in their design, most don't really consider the concept that they may be part of a pathway for users.  For, instance, if I lived in MapleRidge it would not be unreasonable to think that I should be able to walk to Utica Sq.  That's really a short distance.  But, there is no real path direct through Woodward Park and walking along the edge of Woodward is VERY unpleasant (Woodward actually has a very ugly edge).  So the walk between Utica Sq. and MapleRidge is not a practical option so I'd drive (driving that distance in Chicago would be considered rediculous).  

Can you imagine using LaFortune Park as a pleasant segway between the neighborhood east of Hudson Av. and say KingsPointe Village?  Me neither.

The edge around Vetrans Park is pathetic and the park itself looks like not much more than a big grass field.  Yet, the neighborhoods to the east, west, and south are (to many) very desireable.  Why wouldn't we want to establish a park that is an attraction such that it is desirable to develop around its edges in a manner that is oriented to the park and contributes to reinforcing the parks edges and identity.  
In a nutshell, I think that our Parks can be better and bigger assets to our City.  

I think that is the goal for Centennial at 6th/Boston but I guess its slow in coming.  Should I take this opportunity to harp on the need for trees on the north side?
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« Reply #6 on: July 07, 2009, 03:20:52 pm »

Sadly, Tulsa is overwhelmed by the political force of unimaginative people who prefer to invest in nothing, but when pushed, think that wide streets and police protection are all you need to maintain a civilization.

As a result, the parks that help make Tulsa beautiful and desireable suffer.  (They are considered "fluff" to the so-called conservatives who vote down any public investment or quality of life improvement.)

First and foremost, parks add desperately-needed beauty and greenspace to our city. They create a common history and shared memories (when generations of people enjoy the same park, decade after decade).  They provide common spaces that help build  community, and bond diverse people together.  They create spaces for art that can be enjoyed by all.  They enable people to engage in healthy activities, exercise, educational opportunities, and team sports.  They provide alternatives for at-risk kids to participate in after-school programs.  They provide a welcome relief to the soul-sucking asphalt and billboards that define our streetscapes. 

Parks are a place where you can sit and think.  Where you can enjoy a flower or a sunset or a squirrel.  A place to take a break from work and the hassles of the day.  A place to enjoy a game of catch with your kids.  A place for whimsy.  A place to dream big.

We shortchange our parks at our own cost.  Sadly, our parks reflect our priorities.  It's no wonder the young, creative and artistic flee Tulsa.  We are a city that turns our backs on them.  The proof is in our parks.  (What they could be.  And what they are.)

Tulsa's official slogan: "We could do better, but we don't."
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« Reply #7 on: July 10, 2009, 01:19:40 pm »

Let's hope parks are bigger priority for the next mayor.  Tulsa has some great city parks they just need updating and maintenance.  The crown jewel, River Parks, is finally seeing the benefit of an update (at mostly private expense) and is more popular than ever.

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