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Tulsa Parks Developing Master Plan

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Parks consultant Pat O'Toole says Tulsa has more parks than most cities but they are outdated and underfunded. Parks consultant Pat O'Toole says Tulsa has more parks than most cities but they are outdated and underfunded.
One of Tulsa's newest parks shows the potential for the rest of the city. One of Tulsa's newest parks shows the potential for the rest of the city.

By Emory Bryan, The News On 6

TULSA, OK -- The Tulsa Parks Department wants a new master plan.

It doesn't have much money for improvements but wants to be ready when the situation improves.

A meeting about the plan was held at Centennial Park on Thursday night. A consulting firm spent the week looking at the parks system and asking what Tulsa wants from the parks system.

Owen Park, the oldest in Tulsa, is showing its age. While popular on a warm day, visitors would like to see it improved.

"Nice place to walk around, maybe a little trail, something I could walk the dog on," Odessa Neihart said.

Jasmine Simmons and her children visit the park often, but she worries about safety.

It didn't help that while she was talking, the police started picking up drunk people who had fallen asleep in the park.        

They weren't dangerous, just not what people want to see in the parks.

"I need a safer park for my kids to be at," Simmons said.

One of the problems for parks departments nationwide is that just as budgets have decrease, people expect more from the parks and safety is a top concern.

Pat O'Toole, a parks consultant, says Tulsa has more parks than most cities but they are outdated and underfunded.

He says some cities recognize parks as more than recreation.

"It's a reason that people move here and stay here and don't leave here," O'Toole said.

One of Tulsa's newest parks shows the potential for the rest of the city. Whether it or another model is what people want is still being studied to create the new master plan.

"And they'll present all of this to us in July and that's when we'll have the visioning and make some hard decisions, you know, what do we want to be when we grow up?" said Nancy Atwater, director of Tulsa Parks.

The Tulsa Community Foundation is paying for the consulting firm to come up with the plan, which will include ideas on how to pay for improvements.

The plan will guide the future of the city's current 125 parks that cover 6,000 acres.

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