Tulsa Parks Department Could Get New Master Plan

Monday, July 13th 2009, 7:00 pm
By: News On 6

By Emory Bryan, The News On 6

TULSA, OK -- The Tulsa Parks Department could soon get a new master plan. The question is whether there's any money to make it happen.

People who go to parks in Tulsa County may not realize the difference between city, county and river parks, but they differ in how well they're funded.

If and when the City of Tulsa is able to put more money into parks, a master plan will help direct how the money is spent.

Most City of Tulsa parks are showing their age after years of budgets that only afforded the most basic maintenance.

The entire system of 120 parks and the Tulsa Zoo runs off about $11 million a year.

That's why the new master plan will include suggestions to pay for improvements.

"So that's definitely a part of this, is identifying funding, whether that's private or public dollars," said Jamie Zink, planning committee.

Jamie Zink and Margie Warren lead a volunteer, privately funded effort to create a master plan for Tulsa's parks.

"So now we really need a vision statement of what we want the parks of Tulsa to look like in five to 10 years," said Margie Warren, planning committee.

The results from a survey of Tulsa show a demand for better parks, not new parks, and mirrors a national trend to make parks useful for all ages, not just playgrounds for young children.

"They're not necessarily saying we need more green space or more parks, they're saying what we have needs to be great, it needs to be maintained, we need quality facilities," said Jamie Zink.

The parks department continues to cut staff and now is down to 136 fulltime employees, including the zoo.

The master planning survey process found that people notice that the city is not spending what it takes to keep the parks well maintained, much less improved.

"Things need a lot of improvement so we can be selective about what we do and where we spend our money and I think this process will help us do that," said Margie Warren.

The full results of the community survey and the outline of the master plan so far is coming out at a meeting at 6:30 Monday night at the Central Park Community Center.