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Greater Tulsa Reporter

Tulsa County and City Unite for Park System

From Tulsa County by RON PETERS
Tulsa County Commissioner

WILLIAMS LODGE AT THE GATHERING PLACE: Williams Lodge is one of the many structures at A Gathering Place for Tulsa that is continuing to take shape. The Lodge will serve as the Welcome Center for the park. The park is planned to open in the spring/summer.

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nd appreciated the many fine city and county park and recreation facilities. Whether it’s golf courses, swimming pools, athletic facilities, recreation centers, or beautifully maintained gardens, Tulsans recognize that parks bring an important quality of life to everyone.

In recent years our parks departments have been faced with serious financial challenges brought about by changes in our economy and the cost to maintain and upkeep our park assets. With the soon to open Gathering Place and the improvements made at River Parks, Tulsa County citizens will soon have four park systems to support.

It is against this backdrop that Mayor G.T. Bynum and I recently announced the formation of the City-County Parks Realignment Commission to identify duplication within the City and County park systems and potentially align services. The Commission is composed of several committed parks experts and supporters to look at the optimization of park systems into one that is sustainable and can be enjoyed by future generations of Tulsans.

In fact, a few years ago, the future viability of our parks systems motived a private sector group, Tulsa’s Leadership Vision, Inc. (TLV) to privately fund a comprehensive assessment to examine how the City and County could realign park operations if the decision was made to do so.

GreenPlay, LLC, a Colorado-based national parks management firm was retained to gather the facts and data about our city and county parks, to inventory the assets, to look at other successful models of park management from across the country, and to recommend a master plan for a viable and sustainable metro parks system. GreenPlay has a deep understanding of the Tulsa parks system, having developed the City of Tulsa’s Parks Master Plan in 2010

The information compiled by GreenPlay should be helpful to the Commission as we begin our discussion where we go from here.

It is certain that the Realignment Commission will be looking for ways to increase efficiency for both City and County park systems. For example, are there opportunities to:

Either reduce or eliminate underutilized facilities?

Outsource duplicative or ineffective services?

Reorganize and/or form shared joint services or partnerships?

Realize the needed revenue to support park operations?

Considering that the citizens of Tulsa County will have four park systems, each of which depends upon private donations and public support, public operated park systems will continue to be faced with difficult decisions on how to maintain a sustainable and attractive parks system that meets the needs of the public.
I believe the City-County Parks Realignment Commission is the right approach at the right time.

Updated 12-15-2017

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