Scissortail Park: A Decade In the Making

Thursday, September 12th 2019, 8:34 pm
By: News 9

Scissortail Park is about to open, a park that the community paid for through tax dollars. However, getting to this point didn't happen overnight. It took many years of planning and then an enormous amount of manpower to build it.

"It took a lot of people pulling on the same rope to get to this point where we are today," said Hans Butzer, Director of Butzer Architects and Urbanism.

Butzer was among the first to take hold.

"In those early years, 2005-2006 it was about, 'What is the idea? What is the vision that we hope everyone can rally around?'" he said.

The city found that vision at the Gibbs College of Architecture at the University of Oklahoma, where Butzer is dean.

"Students are always a great venue for just dreaming big," he said.

Butzer's students had the grand idea of linking the downtown area to the Oklahoma River. City officials agreed and by 2007 the "Core-to-Shore" master plan was adopted.

"We're all trying to create the best possible space in the history of the city, and you don't sleep, you keep going," said Butzer.

Butzer's team along with Hargreaves Associates designed Scissortail Park and spent years perfecting it.

"We built models after models after models, renderings after renderings after renderings changing floor plans consistently," he said.

Those multiple changes happened to give the community everything they wanted in a park.

"All these feedback loops gave us things to adapt to, and so at every step of the way, each year the design needed to evolve, continue to evolve," Butzer said.

Since breaking ground, Downey Contracting has worked nonstop.

"It's just a progression. You start from the bottom underground, build a lake, do the dirt work. It's just step-by-step like building a building," said Larry Downey, a manager at Downey Contracting.

For the past two years, more than 100 workers have been on site each day to create the urban oasis.

"It's 38.5 acres total. Contract will be a little over $60 million. It's going to be a crown jewel for the city of Oklahoma City," he said.

"It's a huge endeavor," added Oklahoma City Mayor David Holt. "You know we're surrounded by projects here that have taken a decade, we're standing on a boulevard that took 25 years to build. That's the way it works in government. You've got to be persistent. You've got to be patient."

In the 36 acres of the upper park, workers have laid tons of concrete, about two miles of pavers for the trails and grand promenade and erected more than 300 LED light poles. They laid sod throughout, including the great lawn, planted 1,000 trees and hundreds of thousands of plants. There's a four-and-a-half-acre lake with a dock and boathouse and several hundred benches and more than a hundred picnic tables.

"It's exciting," said Bethany resident Dustin Faust. "I think people like to get downtown and they need reasons to come down here beyond just sports and stuff like that, and being outdoors gives them places that they can relax and take in the view."

"Yeah, we grew up here, and it's changed so much in the last 10 years, it doesn't even seem like the same city anymore," added Audra Faust, also of Bethany.

"The skyline, the Chesapeake Arena: this is going to be a world-class urban park and the center of Oklahoma City and I just can't wait to open it," said Mayor Holt.