Hard to believe but it's been just over one year since that big Kings of Leon concert officially opened Scissortail Park in downtown Oklahoma City. And now in just a couple of weeks the city will break ground on the lower park.
Despite the pandemic, or maybe partly because of it, hundreds of thousands of visitors have enjoyed Scissortail Park in the past year.
“We like to walk around and come out and sit on the hill and eat some lunch,” said frequent visitor Larrington Dosumnu.
“I don’t think it could have gone any better, that’s how good it’s been,” added Maureen Heffernan, the CEO of the Scissortail Park Foundation who now runs the park.
She said the promenade walk is likely the most popular part of the park.
“A place to see and be seen and just walking it,” said Heffernan. “There’s a beautiful flow to it.”
The Saturday Farmer's Market and monthly night market have become popular events as have socially distanced concerts.
Over the past year the new convention center has popped up the end east side of the park, the Sky Rink roller rink opened up in July and the city council approved $19 million in excess MAPS funds to renovate Union Station.
“That will be huge,” said Heffernan. “You couldn’t ask for a finer anchor to this end of the park. The historic nature, the beauty of the old building, the spaciousness.”
The opening of Spark cafe however has been delayed until the spring.
‘It didn’t make sense to open this year with so many uncertainties and things,” says Heffernan.
The north park is a more active park for families: water features, playgrounds, things like that for them to do and see. The south park according to the MAPS director, is going to be a more passive park, more of a traditional style park.
“I’m real fired up about the south park,” said MAPS Director David Todd. “With the success that we’ve had with the upper park I think the lower park is going to be just as successful but in a different way.”
More places to sit in the shade, have a family picnic, mosey through a grove of trees.
“Trying to preserve the existing trees that are over here in this panhandle area against the interstate,” said Todd.
And there'll be a nice soccer field in the south park's panhandle which stretches about 4 blocks alongside I-40. Alongside basketball and futsal courts. Think of futsal, as soccer played on a court about twice the size of a tennis court.
“It was never our goal to provide a sports complex,” said Todd. “This is a park.”
And to that end there will be a smaller pavilion with cover and restrooms.
The promenade people love to stroll along in the north park will take them right across the Skydance Bridge and down the east side of south park to a 15-foot hill.
“It will put you up so you will be able to see the river,” said Todd.
But the biggest story may develop on the edges of the park, where private property offers opportunity for entrepreneurs, like the Cusack family holding four acres on the west side, that dips out into the park itself.
“On the west side, some mixed-use stuff with maybe some semi high-rise stuff and then on the east side some retail commercial type stuff,” said Todd.
The challenge will be to draw people from the exciting venues of the north park to the relaxed charm of the south park.
“I really hope people don’t think of this as a north park and a south park. It is really a continuous park connected through the Skydance Bridge.”