Scissortail Park
Children spell out the name of Scissortail Park moments before leaders broke ground on the major downtown OKC public development. (William W. Savage III)

Surrounded by children and municipal leaders, Oklahoma City Mayor and 2018 gubernatorial candidate Mick Cornett jammed a shovel in an open field this morning to break ground on Scissortail Park, the new 70-acre public space that will redefine the city’s core.

“As we stand out here today, it looks a little bit like a blank canvass,” Cornett said as children flew kites and played games behind him. “In a way, it reminds us of those young people and how their lives are yet to unfold. How will they continue to grow this city? How will they continue to reinvent this park, generation after generation? Because their lives are blank canvasses as well.”

The name of Scissortail Park was chosen from among six finalists after a public nomination process. People voted on, with broad public sentiment that Scissortail Park was the most reasonable — some said “least worst” — option.

The other choices were Skydance Green, Union Station Commons, Painted Sky Park, Renaissance Green and Prairie River Park.

Scissortail Park will be split into two portions. The 40-acre northern section will start catty-corner from the Chesapeake Energy Arena and extend south from the new Oklahoma City Boulevard (S.W. 3rd Street) down to I-40. It will be bordered by Hudson Avenue on the west and Robinson Avenue on the east.

The park’s southern section will be one block more narrow, running between Harvey Avenue and Robinson Avenue south of I-40. That section will extend down to the Oklahoma River.

Scissortail Park’s north section is scheduled for completion in 2019, while the southern part is set for a 2021 grand opening.

Scissortail Park: A public MAPS investment

The large downtown park — which developers and municipal managers say will transform the central part of Oklahoma City — was approved by voters as part of the MAPS 3 city-sales-tax initiative.

Scissortail Park
The northern section of Scissortail Park will feature a lake. (OKC)

“The passage of that initiative in December 2009 I think will go down as one of the most important days in Oklahoma City history,” Cornett said.

MAPS efforts have gained national recognition owing to the enormity of public investment voted for by citizens of a conservative state.

According to the City of OKC’s MAPS 3 website, the park project will ultimately cost about $132 million.

On Sept. 12, city voters will face a ballot question asking whether to extend the expiring MAPS penny sales tax for an additional 27 months to finance street resurfacing, streetscapes, trails, sidewalks and bicycle infrastructure.

Some city leaders have criticized that proposal, arguing instead that OKC needs to focus on improving school funding owing to the state Legislature’s inaction on the topic.