Editorial: Johnson Park facelift will succeed if residents’ ideas are incorporated into the design | Editorial

With a budget of $3.1 million and input from residents, Johnson Park could be a catalyst in transforming the neighborhood.

The 61st Street and Riverside Drive area is largely vacant and leaves untapped potential. Voters approved funding for the Improve Our Tulsa 2 package to renovate the park into something vibrant.

Too often, managers design parks using consultants or other recreation specialists. This time, the city turned to people living in homes and apartments near the park for ideas.

The approach works well because residents know better what they need in their neighborhood. Parks are essential measures of a city’s quality of life, but they are not a one-size-fits-all answer.

A story by reporter Kevin Canfield noted that city officials held more than six neighborhood meetings last year to obtain information about amenities at Johnson Park. Last week, an unveiling of concept plans provided another opportunity to submit ideas. These will be used to finalize plans before issuing RFPs.

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Construction is expected to begin in 2024.

The plan now calls for a playground, wading pool, indoor basketball/sports court, graffiti wall and dog park. The dog park is an idea directly from neighbors who want a place where children can play with pets. For pet owners, having spaces to take their dogs to exercise and enjoy the outdoors is good for the well-being of a community.

One possibility is to move parts of a skate park from the west bank of the Arkansas River near 21st Street to Johnson Park. It would be installed along the Riverside Drive side of the park.

The park is in a good location which could be connected to the large network of river park trails. The neighborhoods that directly surround it have been struggling economically for decades, battling the scourge.

A reinvented park could be the spark to change the future of this area; bright spots have the ability to expand.

We are encouraged by the planning progress for the park and look forward to another recreational location in the city.

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