By CHRIS EDENS
Oologah Town Board members voted to leave the town park in it’s current location after a large, vocal crowd packed town hall Tuesday morning to protest the move.
The board was considering relocating the park to make room for a new community building. The original site for the new building was the location of the old Methodist church west of town hall.
After the church was torn down, it was discovered that the footprint for the new building encroached on the road easement. Architect Taylor King presented a plan for the new park during a public forum.
He said some trees would be removed from the current park site, but three old pecan trees would remain. King said a new park location on the old church site and the old Littler property would allow for a 50 x 70 pavilion and a walking trail.
“We’re not getting rid of the park. We’re making it bigger and better,” King said.
The standing room only crowd was passionate in their pleas to leave the park in the current location. The debate became so heated at one point that police chief Novale Thompson told the crowd to calm down, or some audience members would be removed from the meeting.
Kelly Sweeney was the main spokesperson for the people against moving the park. She said families with limited income need free places for their children to play. She cited statistics on outdoor play and the obesity problem with children.
“We don’t want a different park. You’re going to be spending a lot of money moving things for something we don’t want,” Sweeney said. “A lot of people are not happy about it and none of you are hearing us. This park is just fine and moving it is not an improvement.”
The crowd broke into applause after Sweeney’s statement.
Former board member Jan Miller said a new community building is badly needed and the old building is run down and dangerous. She said the thought of losing 100 year old trees in the park “breaks my heart.” Miller was in favor of adjusting the plans and constructing the new building to the west and south of town hall.
A group of children had signs that read Save Our Park. A young girl in the group said she has friends that walk to the park and play and she has played in the park since she was little. She also said the town had rallied to save the gorilla in the park.
For the complete story, pick up a copy of the Oologah Lake Leader on news stands Wednesday.