Stillwater News Press

Our View

July 13, 2010

OUR VIEW: Park or parking?

STILLWATER, Okla. — Stillwater’s city manager and City Council are right to work with Oklahoma State University and fraternities and sororities to find a solution to parking issues in OSU’s Greek neighborhood.

It is unfortunate that vintage trees and a city park have to figure in to the solution.

But the sale of Tower Park to OSU for a parking lot is not about trees, nor is it about money. It’s about finding a safe parking solution that will get cars off the sides of streets and provide a clear path for emergency vehicles.

Whether Stillwater has to sacrifice an established park to provide this needed parking is the issue we expect our city leaders to explore in such a situation. We also expect fiscal responsibility. The sale plan for Tower Park is based on its appraised value, according to the city manager.

Our mayor voted against the Tower Park plan, saying he’d like to know if the city can lease the property or get a higher bidder. He’d also like to know how that neighborhood feels about the proposal.

The procedure for such a transaction provides for public comment — and several did at Monday’s council meeting — and for public petitioning to prevent the sale.

But simply to look for a higher bidder implies that changing ownership is the reason for the sale. That notion overlooks the bigger picture — finding a solution to parking issues and emergency access. We will be interested to hear the mayor’s alternative solutions to those issues.

If the city and OSU move forward to turn this park into a parking lot, we would like to see the city ban parking along the streets that this move is designed to unclog. Otherwise, as our university grows, we could be looking at another park and another set of 100-year-old trees much too soon.

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