Stillwater News Press

February 22, 2011

OUR VIEW: What is plan for parks?

Stillwater NewsPress

STILLWATER, Okla. — The cracks in the Sunset Park tennis courts are wider than a tennis ball.

Yet, Stillwater Public Schools was trying to play a tennis tournament on those courts this past spring.

The tennis courts at Couch Park aren’t much better. The tennis courts at Boomer Lake have been converted for roller hockey use.

Stillwater’s Parks and Recreation Department says it has too many parks and too little money to properly maintain the 5,003 acres of park land and park equipment is falling into disrepair.

A 2010 report says the Stillwater Parks Board will need $1.15 million over the next five years just to replace and repair damaged equipment and facilities. It also says Stillwater needs a larger parks staff and budget or fewer parks or a combination of the two.

City officials are considering opening Lake McMurtry to semi-private development. Parks and Recreation Director John McClenny said developing Lake McMurtry could provide significant revenue.

Will this revenue go directly to the Parks and Recreation Department? Will it go into the city’s general fund budget and be used for something other than parks?

Those questions remain unanswered.

Parks and recreational activities are a quality of life issue. In Stillwater, it is a quality issue. How many parks can the city properly maintain?

City officials must develop a comprehensive park plan that focuses on what the city can afford to maintain and how it can afford to maintain those parks.

What the city can’t do, maybe local groups and volunteers can.