Bicentennial Park Controversy Subsides

Thursday, February 23rd 2012, 12:38 am
By: News 9

A battle is brewing over preserving history while upgrading a downtown Oklahoma City park. The plan got some pushback from some city council members, even talk of pulling the funding for it.

Critics called it a knee-jerk reaction to changes at Bicentennial Park as part of Project 180.

City Council members had concerns about trees, monuments and preserving the historic nature of Bicentennial Park. They spoke out last week against the project but this week the tone is decidedly different.

"My concerns specifically were about the historical perspective of it, the monuments and the plaques and so forth and what was the plan for them," Gary Marrs,  Oklahoma City Councilman, said.

Marrs was one of the concerned members, but he changed his mind in the last week.

"We got the documentation. We got to see all the plans. We saw some reports that had been done," he said.

Officials said the new design is more inviting with new pathways, healthy trees and some extra features adding to the downtown experience.

"The biggest new feature that I think that we'll find in the new Bicentennial is the new water stage. There's a new interactive water feature that can be lit and operated with sound. It can dance to music," Public Works Director Eric Wenger said.

The final design addressed many of the concerns from the council, but Marrs said while you can't please everyone, he supported the changes.

"I was extremely impressed with the level of detail that the architects went through trying to tie in the historical perspective. If I'd had the information a Tuesday ago, you probably wouldn't have gotten the speech that I gave."

City leaders said this is a key area for upgrades to draw more people downtown.