City would invest big in parks if Improve Our Tulsa package is approved Aug. 8

Editor’s note: This is the first in a series of weekly stories that will focus on the Improve Our Tulsa 3 capital improvements package scheduled to go to voters on Aug. 8.

It tells you something that when Anna America talks about all the park and trail repairs the $814 million Improve Our Tulsa 3 package would fund, she sounds absolutely delighted.

Maybe that’s because it’s been a long time coming.

“This is taking care of our amenities,” said America, the city’s Park and Recreation director. “Tulsans deserve to have these things taken care of and to have these be facilities that they are proud of, and we have neglected day-to-day maintenance for a long time. This gets us back to really making some progress.”

The proposal, which goes to voters Aug. 8, includes nearly $32 million for parks. The project list varies from golf course improvements to resurfaced parking lots to a new recreation center at Chamberlain Park.

People are also reading…

“To build a new rec center is a big deal,” America said. “I mean, we haven’t done one in a long, long time.”

Chamberlain and nearby Berry Park are slated to receive a combined $5 million, funding that would not only help pay for a new recreation center at Chamberlain but for trails, playgrounds and other traditional amenities at both parks.

“GKFF (George Kaiser Family Foundation) has committed to a $5 million match toward the building and then is working to get additional support for other improvements from the private funding community to supplement what the city is doing — for both parks,” America said.

After years of fits and starts, city officials believe Fred Johnson Park near Riverside Drive and 71st Street could finally begin to shine with the help of the $5 million allocated for it in IOT 3.

Tulsans approved more than $3 million for the park in Vision Tulsa, America said, but more funding is needed to achieve the neighborhood’s vision for the site.

“When we went through that community engagement process, the cost to do the things that people wanted was closer to $8 million,” America said.

The funding will pay for a covered sports court, trails, playground equipment, a dog park and other amenities.

“It is such a good park, and it is such a big gap in that part of town, so I think it was a kind of commitment to say, ‘Let’s give this community the things that they have asked for,’” America said.

Other big-ticket items included on the parks project list are $3 million for regional trail improvements, $2 million for parking lot rehabilitation and $1 million for loop trails within parks.

America said the city is responsible for maintaining most of the regional trails that are not part of the River Parks trail system. Those include, but are not limited to, Newblock Trail, the Midland Valley Trail and Tisdale Expressway Trail.

“I have been advocating for years that we need to have … repair money, because they are all deteriorating, and there has been no money (for repairs),” America said. “This is just the first of trying to claw some of that back”

America said that when it comes to repairing parking lots and trails, the city will prioritize the sites by need. The parking lot at Hicks Park will be high on the priority list, America said.

“It is a very, very popular (rec) center, it’s huge, and it is a nightmare,” she said. “It is pothole after pothole.”

About a quarter of the parks IOT 3 funding would go to improve conditions at Page Belcher and Mohawk Park golf courses. For the first time in years, the city is beginning to invest in the courses. In addition to the possible $8 million in IOT 3 funding — $4 million for each 36-hole course — the city has committed  up to $1 million in ARPA funding if an equal amount is raised by private donors.

America said that for now the city’s golf course investments are focused on ensuring proper irrigation.

“Particularly at Mohawk,” she said. “There are big chunks at Mohawk that are basically just dead grass. … Other investments we make are wasted if we can’t keep any of the grass alive on the course.”

The new Tulsa World app offers personalized features. Download it today.

Users can customize the app so you see the stories most important to you. You can also sign up for personalized notifications so you don’t miss any important news.

If you’re on your phone, download it here now: Apple Store or Google Play


var s = document.createElement(‘script’);
s.setAttribute(‘src’, ‘’);
window.removeEventListener(‘scroll’, throttledRevContent);
__tnt.log(‘Load Rev Content’);
}, 100);
window.addEventListener(‘scroll’, throttledRevContent);