Downtown Chickasha could have a new park adjacent to the Rock Island Depot as soon as November 2022.
It’s an aggressive timeline, but it’s possible, according to Jim Cowan, Chickasha Economic Development Council (EDC) Director. Cowan spoke to Chickasha City Council about the proposed park on Monday night.
The Downtown Park Steering Committee consists of the EDC, Chickasha Chamber of Commerce, USAO, the Chickasha Community Foundation and others.
The Chickasha Downtown Park has a proposed budget of $6 to 10 million. The goal is to open the park without any financial assistance from the City of Chickasha or maintenance dollars from the Chickasha Parks Department, Cowan said.
The committee has identified sources of potential funding, including: private donations, federal ARPA funds, the Chickasaw Nation, state grants, nonprofits and foundations connected to the arts as well as healthy living organizations such as TSET and AARP.
The committee has brainstormed numerous amenities for the park. So far, the vision includes walking and running trails, an outdoor amphitheater, a USAO Arts Plaza, a children’s play area, bathrooms and police outpost (during events), an area for a farmers market and free Wi-Fi.
In addition to recreation, a “legends walkway” could honor trailblazers in Chickasha’s history such as Dr. Ada Lois Sipuel Fisher, Cleavon Little and Te Ata (Mary Thompson Fisher).
“We have a lot of folks that have ties to Chickasha that have made significant accomplishments. Accomplishments that we need to recognize,” Cowan said.
The park may draw Festival of Light visitors to a “Downtown Depot” which may provide seasonal activities such as an ice slide or snow tubing.
The Chickasha Leg Lamp would also have a more permanent home in the proposed USAO Arts Plaza. A pole built by Midwest Cooling Towers could support the Leg Lamp as well as other displays.
In a letter to Cowan, Lt. Governor Matt Pinnell said he supported the Chickasha Economic Development Council in using the leg lamp “as an eccentric tourism tool.”
According to city documents, an additional $100,000 in additional sales tax revenue was collected during the 2020 holiday season, with the biggest change being the addition of the Chickasha Leg Lamp.
While the Festival of Light has been a success story, Cowan said Chickasha needs to step it up to remain relevant.
“I think it’s our responsibility to dream big,” he said. “It’s time to do something big for Chickasha.”
The Downtown Park Steering Committee will be seeking public input in the form of town hall meetings and/or an online survey.
“We want to know what they want to see. We want to know what they’d like to name the park. Because it’s all about making it a true community space that’s very inclusive to all involved,” Cowan said.