Past and present are converging at historic Stephenson Park in Edmond, as the park undergoes modernization with the intent to preserve the city’s heritage.
The Edmond City Council continued their decision to approve the site plan of Stephenson Park Monday evening following a city council workshop. Council members and those attending the workshop reached a consensus that more care should be given in respect to a brick memorial courtyard containing inscriptions of 89ers as well as inscriptions by other people who made Edmond a great place to live.
The city council approved the master plan for Stephenson Park in 2018, and the Parks and Recreation Board also approved the concept in January in an attempt to create an urban park for young families, children and those who will use the park.
“After the workshop it looks like we need some direction on several items that are part of the plan,” said Craig Dishman, director of Parks and Recreation.
In discussion about the brick memorial courtyard former Edmond Historical Trust member Carol Wright said citizens paid $25 per brick inscription. Others such as former Mayors Saundra Naifeh and Randel Shadid cautioned against losing locations of Edmond history that cannot be replaced. Dishman said many of the bricks are eroded to the point that names are no longer recognizable.
Many of those at the council workshop said they want the city to have an urban park but asked the city to find ways to blend approximately 800 bricks and a historical statue into the design without removal. Keeping the bricks in place would call for a redesign of the playground area, Assistant City Manager Steve Commons said.
“Part of it would be to come back with a concept as to how that would occur with the plans that we have that are in your agenda,” Commons continued.
ALTERNATE PLAN FOR BRICKS
An alternate plan involves creating a conceptual plan to repurpose the bricks in the Stephenson Park development.
Mayor Dan O’Neil said he would like a wall location designated for a plaque with all the names preserved from the bricks. Additional lighting and emphasis on flags is needed, O’Neil said.
“I like the idea that it remains lit — that there’s nice park benches around, that the names are there, and a statue that was designed for that purpose at that location, and donated to the city without any public expense,” O’Neil said.
More discussion will take place whether to remove the driveway in front of the museum for a new plaza. Ideas discussed included keeping the statue in its current location, moving it to a plaza in front of the museum facing Boulevard, move it to the front of the museum, or move it to the American Legion Building.
O’Neil also noted a consensus had been reached to save the basketball court. City Councilman Josh Moore said he sees a need for preserving the basketball court without losing a new public event and seating area nearby.