Steve Kime interview with Joan Riley
January 22, 2013
Steve Kime, Director of Marketing and Public Relations for the City of Enid sat down and talked with Assistant City Manager Joan Riley about the upcoming March 5th Quality of Life Initiative that focuses on parks and recreation.
Q. On March 5th, the citizens of Enid will be voting on a bond proposal that would generate $50 million in revenue to upgrade the city parks system. The term Quality of Life has been used in the discussion. Is this about parks or about Quality of Life for the citizens in Enid?
A. This vote is all about Quality of Life. It’s about building a city that residents want to live, work, play and raise a family in. Enid has been moving towards this goal for several years - focusing on economic and retail development, infrastructure needs, technology, and revitalization of our down town. This initiative brings us to an awareness of the need to provide opportunities for healthier lifestyles, wellness, and activities outside of our homes.
Q. According to education officials, 500 + elementary school age children have been introduced into the Enid school system. How does this bond proposal impact them?
A. Some feel we have adequate parks and sports fields, yet it is a struggle to accommodate all the leagues for play time and especially for practice times. As our fastest growing age group being elementary children join leagues and want to play sports this problem becomes greater.
Q. In this proposal, there is the creation of new parks. Why do we need new parks?
A. The City of Enid asked Howel and Vancuren inc. of Tulsa to do a study on all of our park and recreation facilities and report back to us - good and bad, and then help us by creating a Master Plan for us to use in our decision making going forward. They look at every park and its relationship to neighborhoods and the community as a whole. The result was that we were well covered in neighborhood parks with the exception of the NE and the NW sections of town. NW area can be solved with a neighborhood park built across the street from Prairie View School and the NE is another area but land has not been identified. The community parks identified consist of the Central Park area leading up to the downtown area from Garriott. The other park identified would replace S Govt Springs. And it would also be the location of an aquatic center replacing Champlin Pool, a park and rec facility and a potential community center.
Q. Oklahoma is in a drought! Water is a topic of great concern. Will there be enough water to meet the demand of all the parks?
A. Water is a natural resource that we all need to take care of and conserve whenever possible. The City of Enid will always have high importance in our planning and budgeting of water needs as it is one of our core services. For several years, the administration staff has taken a proactive approach to understand and meet the water needs of our great community.
For example, the city of Enid spends $1.5 million annually on water development. Recently, $4 million has been spent on building two new water towers that assist in water pressure infrastructure needs. In addition, we are acquiring water rights for an additional 4.5 million gallons a day. We are bringing on line this year an additional one million gallons of water per day and have planned to double that in 2014. We contracted a study during the last commission meeting to outline cost and capabilities for reuse water capabilities for industrial use. The use of this kind of water for industry frees up water for increased residential use. Potentially, the treatment of waste water could free up 5 million gallons of treated outflow water.
The Quality of Life initiative is a very expansive proposal and requires forward-thinking design. All planning and design for refurbishment and new parks will include the most conservative use of water possible. This includes the choice of plants, trees, and grasses that are accustomed to drought conditions. We will investigate every opportunity for irrigation from the lakes and retention areas within our parks when possible for use on grass, landscape, and trees as long as they fall within ODEQ guidelines.
We take water very serious as it is one of our basic functions as a city to provide water to citizens. Therefore, the City of Enid is committed to this on-going and crucial effort to meet the water needs of our citizens.
Q. I understand an assessment was done of our parks. What can you tell me of the findings regarding safety of the equipment and parks?
A. As I mentioned, a park study and master plan was done by Howel and Vancuren out of Tulsa. Many of our parks have old playground equipment that does not meet today’s safety standards. All of this equipment needs to be replaced. Safety lighting was another strong suggestion especially along the trail system. Playgrounds today are different than they were 20 years ago or more when these were installed. They include the encouragement of fine and gross motor skills and provide for improvement of overall health through play activity.
Q. ADA accessibility is an important component in our lives today. Does this bond proposal meet this need?
A. This proposal will update all our parks with ADA accessibility and in a shorter time frame. We are moving toward this goal now but with limited funds it will take time to bring everything up to date.
Q. 5,000 surveys were sent out during the assessment process. What did the surveys reveal? In other words, what did the citizens of Enid want in their parks system?
A. The surveys revealed that Enid citizens want a strong Park and Recreation system. They ranked highly special events, fitness opportunities, sports and adventure. They indicated a need for a community center and activities related to arts and crafts. In regard to our current facilities they ranked the need for restrooms and water fountains highly along with general update of facilities and better maintenance. 90% of the respondents agreed that the parks and recreation is an essential service to the city.
Q. What happens to Champlin pool?
A. Champlin pool has served this community well but is in its last years of life. Maintenance cost is drastically going to increase over the next couple of years. The pool had a life expectancy of 40 and is now in its 60’s. The site will not be left an empty pool but would be filled in and either a playground or parking will take its place or any number of other ideas that may not have been thought of yet. The community may have suggestions as well for that site. It would not serve our purpose to improve quality of life in one area by leaving it blighted in another; so I can assure you that something will be done and a deep hole will not be left to deteriorate.
Q. We have Crosslin Park, Kellet Softball Fields, and the Enid Soccer complex. What happens to these facilities?
A. The plan addresses each of them with improvements or refurbishment that may include upgrades to existing fields, lighting, parking, and building upgrades. The Soccer complex is limited as it is a detention area for the COE and many things cannot be done to it that would compromise the flow of stormwater. But it does address the existing buildings and access ramps over the levees.
Q. What can you tell us about the creation of a “central park” in downtown Enid?
A. This is a green space lined with trees and it will have a natural slope down toward the Convention Hall and Event Center. It will have a perimeter walkway and be very eye- catching opening leading up to the downtown area. The natural slope of the land will lead to an amphitheater that can be used for open air venues and community gatherings or simply a great place to eat lunch and enjoy the scenery.
Q. The proposal contains a new community park on the eastside of the community. What can you tells us about this new “community park?”
A. The majority of the park is to replace existing parks of South Govt. Springs and Champlin Pool. It covers over 200 acres and will be designed to fill it up – however, all that will be built at first are where our current needs are. Such as there is room for 9 softball fields but we plan to start with only 5, the same for soccer and football. A perimeter trail around the park would equate to just over two miles of localized trail. Aquatic center replaces Champlin pool and adds features that are very popular with young families such as zero level entry and splash areas as well as lap swim capabilities. There is a much improved and Skate Park planned, along with basketball courts and a Community Center. An office for Park and Recreation would be placed in this park to allow citizens access to park activities and information.
Q. Here’s an important question. What is the financial impact on the citizens of Enid?
A. Everyone needs to determine what they are willing to pay for enhanced quality of life. For the sales tax issue it would raise our sales tax from 8.35 to 8.85 so every time you spend a hundred dollars it would add an additional 50 cents. This put us about average in the state for sales tax.
The property tax issue is a potential for a continuation of the bridge bond tax initiated 5 years ago. The homeowner whose home is valued at $100, 000 by the Garfield Co Assessor, Wade Patterson, 8.41 a month will be the first year at year three it goes to 7.30 and over the 20 year life it averages about 5.20 a month.
Q. Studies have shown that CEO’s say Quality of Life is important to maintain and to attract employees. How will this bond proposal impact Enid’s quality of life?
A. Enid has long since been the incubator for growing companies. Some have reached international levels of achievement and acknowledgment. We have learned first-hand the last couple of years with Continental Resources moving their home office to OKC. For these companies to stay in Enid they need to recruit the best talent to work for them. Good Schools, retail opportunities, housing, and activities for their families, especially their children, are driving forces to where a person wants to live.
I have personally lived in several different cities and the first thing we investigate before we moved were the schools (Enid has invested greatly on this point), housing (there are lots of nice homes available in Enid), shopping capabilities (this next year will add numerous improvements to our capabilities and offerings); and will my children be happy and have places to play (Can we answer that adequately now?).
Please send questions and comments to TheFuture@Enid.org