Citizen input on park master plan welcomed

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The future of the local parks system is currently being transformed from the community’s recreational dreams and visions into a detailed master plan — and public input can help with the process.

“Every town is different, so our goal is always to tailor a park plan for that individual community,” said Keith Franklin, an urban-design expert whose company — LandPlan Consultants — is assisting local officials with development of the plan.

A special public workshop on the Pawhuska Parks Master Plan will be held Monday, Sept. 9, city officials said. It is scheduled to begin at 6 p.m. at the Pawhuska Community Center, 520 Lynn Ave.

The workshop meeting is designed for any area citizens wishing to learn more about the parks plan — including those who would like to contribute ideas for the consideration of planners.

Earlier this month, a specially-selected steering committee met for the preliminary park-planning workshop. Franklin was present to explained the scope and nature of the project.

Overall aim is the outlining of area recreational needs which will be incorporated into a comprehensive plan to guide officials in the designing of improvements at city park facilities.

The four park areas included in the current study are: the centrally-located Ben Johnson Park and Memorial Park along Lynn Avenue (old State Highway 99); Williams Park on Grandview Avenue in the north part of town, and Pawhuska Lake, west of the city and south of U.S. Highway 60.

Members of the parks plan steering committee include City Manager Paul McAlexander, Chamber of Commerce Director Mike McCartney and City Councilwoman Cathy Worten. Other members are Sheannah Luey, Ben West, Otto Hamilton and Steve Tolson.

“A lot of great things already are envisioned,” Franklin said. “But the more people we can have involved, the better.”

Franklin said his firm recently completed construction work connected with a parks plan in another Oklahoma city, Weatherford. He added that LandPlan Consultants is also finishing up a parks master plan for Ada.

The design specialist pointed out that Pawhuska already has a good parks system, especially Ben Johnson Park with its existing splash pad and skate park facility. He said the park’s close proximity to the Osage County Historical Society Museum also is viewed as a major asset and that the plan will leave room for museum expansion.

“We are looking to improve the parks and make them more functional so they will be even more desirable as places where people want to go,” Franklin said.

Franklin’s company also is the architect of a downtown Pawhuska revitalization effort that has been in the works for several years. The initial phase of the project is to be funded by a $476,000 Streetscape grant announced earlier this year by the Oklahoma Department of Transportation.

The revitalization plan originated more than three years ago when Franklin was hired by local officials specifically to seek grant funding for upgrades in the historic downtown area.

“We were about to give up hope on the grant when we finally got the announcement,” he said, adding that the actual funding has yet to be authorized.

First phase of the plan would extend from Main Street near the Triangle Building down Kihekah Avenue to the Tallgrass Prairie Gateway sign.

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