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OKC, community work together to breathe new life into Red Andrews Park

Jason Doyle / Red Dirt Report
Community leaders break ground at Red Andrews Park in Midtown.
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OKLAHOMA CITY- Mayor Mick Cornett, OKC Parks and Recreation Department and other Oklahoma City partners were on hand to help break ground on renovation efforts at Red Andrews Park, 720 NW 8th Street in Midtown. The City of Oklahoma City teamed up with private entities to help fund a reimagining of the neighborhood park. The groundbreaking officially launches the $1 million facelift which includes the conversion of a parking lot into green space.

It took three years of planning to get to this point. That’s about the time Doug Kupper began working for the Oklahoma City Parks and Recreation Department.

“I was reminded today that three years ago when I started working in Oklahoma City this was one of the very first projects that I was introduced to. The whole concept of public-private partnerships was brought forward at that meeting. Today is a great day because this is one of those epitome items that really proves parks needing public-private partnerships going forward,” Kupper told the crowd.

Area businesses and residents began working with the City of Oklahoma City to figure out a way to renew the park. The Midtown area, anchored by St. Anthony Hospital, was in a period of revival that is still currently underway. 

Midtown sits in Oklahoma City’s Ward Six. Councilwoman Meg Salyer touted the ability for the city to work with private entities to make the Red Andrews Park renovation a reality.

“When a really good idea surfaces, people in this city come together and figure out how to make it happen. It happened because of this public-private partnership,” said Salyer.

The improvements include the Johnnie Williams Gymnasium, named after the coach who found young basketball talents like Mark Price and Wayman Tisdale.

“This wonderful, little neighborhood park is going to be completely transformed. The inside of the facility is undergoing a quarter million-dollar renovation,” Salyer said.

Oklahoma City Mayor Mick Cornett also praised the public-private efforts to bring the park into a more useful space.

“Government can only do so much. So, these public-private partnerships are very, very important. I like the idea that the neighborhood is taking ownership of the future of this park,” Cornett said.

One of those partners is St. Anthony.

“We consider Red Andrews Park our neighborhood. To be a part of this collaboration with the community as well as the city and our partners really makes the revitalization of this park very special. As you know, St. Anthony has been part of Midtown over a hundred years. Today is actually our 119th birthday. So, this is a very special day for St. Anthony,” said Tammy Powell who was representing St. Anthony at the groundbreaking.

Downtown OKC, Inc. has joined the partnership. Jane Jenkins, President and CEO of Downtown OKC, said strategic planning brought her organization into the fold.

“We recently, about three years ago, expanded the business improvement district to include Midtown. Including this park as part of that business improvement district was a very strategic decision, so we can assist the Parks Department and other partners as part of us being able to come in and help maintain this park once it’s completed, promote this park as the neighborhood gym that it is. We are really proud to be involved in it.” Jenkins stated.

There will also be a permanent public art piece. People will be able to contribute to it by going to Midtown area businesses for “tags” that can be placed on a temporary art installation at NW 10th and Walker, now known as the Walker Circle. An artist will take the piece, along with the tags, and create a permanent art piece for Red Andrews Park.

“It is a way everyone can contribute and be a part of this project that has truly brought so many people together,” said Jenkins.

The art piece, "We're In This Together". (Jason Doyle / Red Dirt Report) 

Brian Fitzsimmons of Fitzsimmons Architects helped conceive the plan to renovate the park and its gymnasium. He told the crowd his vision was to make it a place the community could enjoy.

“The big idea is to make the parking lot a park. What’s also interesting is that we have such a significant slope to this, we use it as an opportunity to create a kind of amphitheater and also increase the safety of entering the main door which is on the north side. You’ll be able to see the entry from the street. There will be a pavilion that can be for shows or your normal park picnicking. We’ll have all new lighting. New trees. New sidewalks,” said Fitzsimmons.

With the traditional turn of the dirt photo opportunity, the transformation of a small, Midtown community park begins.

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Jason Doyle Oden

Jason Doyle Oden is a proud Oklahoman. He's an experienced broadcaster and award-winning...

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Red Dirt Report was launched July 4, 2007 as an independent news website covering all manner of news, culture, entertainment and lifestyle stories that affect and interest Oklahoma readers and readers outside of our state. Our mission is to educate, promote civic engagement and discourse on public policy, government and politics. Our experienced journalists provided balanced in-depth coverage of news stories that affect Oklahomans. Our opinion/editorial stories come from a wide range of political view points. We carry out our mission by reporting, writing, and posting news and information. read more

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