Hafer Park
Members of the Edmond City Council discussed development ideas for the 22-acre property south of E.C. Hafer Park during a meeting Monday, July 11, 2022. (Joe Tomlinson)

Derek Smithee, chairman of the Edmond Land Conservancy, delivered a presentation during Monday’s Edmond City Council meeting in which he discussed ideas that have emerged from a work group focused on plans for the 22-acre piece of land south of E.C. Hafer Park which Edmond voters agreed purchase via sales tax increase in October.

Throughout the brainstorming process, the work group has called the land “the preserve,” Smithee said.

“We got tired of calling it ‘that 22 acres,'” Smithee told the council. “That kind of captures the idea of what it should be. Ultimately, what it is called will be up to you, but ‘the preserve’ seemed like a good working name.”

Smithee said the work group — assembled by Edmond Land Conservancy — wants nature to be the focus of the new park.

“Hafer Park is kind of people first, nature second,” Smithee said. “We want this park to be nature first and people second.”

In order to avoid constructing buildings on the preserve, the work group envisions a footbridge from Hafer Park, crossing over the Spring Creek floodplain.

“We really like the idea of utilizing the existing infrastructure at Hafer Park — restrooms, water fountains, parking — and that way the preserve doesn’t have to eat up some of the preserve’s limited land with those things,” Smithee said. “But to access Hafer Park, you’ve got to have some sort of bridge.”

The work group received a broad estimate of $400,000 to $700,000 for the bridge. The budget for the entire park project is currently estimated around $1.4 million.

Taylor Hildenbrand, a member of the work group who also serves on Edmond’s Park and Recreation Advisory Board, said the ideas on the project are still “very draft.”

“Nothing is set in stone, but we’re just trying to figure out a way for people to use their feet to access the site,” Hildenbrand said.

The work group has also discussed a trail system for the park.

“There is always ADA considerations, because we want to have it accessible and available for all citizens to enjoy. It may be an improved trail loop with some spurs that are unimproved trails, we don’t know,” Smithee said. “Those are the kinds of things we are going to be working on.”

An ecological assessment is also required for the park plan to move forward, as the land is under a conservation easement. The work group will meet monthly to discuss next steps on the park’s progress.

Edmond residents voted to purchase land next to Hafer Park

Edmond voters approved a 12-month 0.25-cent sales tax increase during an Oct. 12, 2021 special election to fund the purchase of the 22 acres south of Hafer Park.

The sales tax increase went into effect Jan. 1, 2022 and runs through Dec. 31, 2022. It is expected to generate around $5 million for the city. The land purchase will cost around $4 million, and additional revenue will go to cleanup on the property and other city park services.

More than 81 percent of voters supported the sales tax increase to fund the purchase of the property, which has been the subject of controversy for years in the city. In 2017, voters stopped a development project on the site by rejecting a zoning change that had initially been approved by council.

Had the sales tax increase not been approved last year, a developer was planning to construct a 276-unit mixed-use development on the property. Advocates for the sales tax voiced concern about increased traffic in central Edmond, an already dense area.

City Council approves design contract for fire station

Also at Monday night’s meeting, the Edmond City Council approved a $552,300 contract with Kirkpatrick Architecture for the design of a fire station on North Kelly Avenue, just north of Cross Timbers Elementary School.

“That’s the most populated area of our city all through here that doesn’t have a fire station in that general location,” Chris Goodwin, Fire Chief of the Edmond Fire Department said.

The station will be 11,000 square feet, will have three bays and will sleep seven firefighters and one captain.

Goodwin said the process from design to completion of construction is projected to take about 26 months, which would set its completion in Sept. 2024.

KickingBird Golf Club to open March 2023

KickingBird Golf clubhouse interior rendering. (City of Edmond)

Construction is still ongoing at KickingBird Golf Club, which has been closed for updates since June 2021, but the facility is expected to re-open with all amenities available in March 2023, Brian Soerensen, Edmond’s director of golf, said Monday.

Metal roofs are currently being installed on KickingBird’s clubhouse buildings, and masonry work has started on the indoor teaching facility and range pavilion. All of the green surrounds have been sodded, 16 of the 18 greens have been seeded and all fairways have been sprigged, with the exception of holes 10, 15 and 18, Soerensen said. The golf course’s irrigation system has been installed as well.

Soerensen said the opening date will be somewhat dependent on turf conditions.

“If you look at your front yards when it starts to turn November, it’s dormant from November all the way until end of May, early June,” Soerensen said. “We do not want to open the facility if the turf conditions are not such that it could handle the cart traffic and the increase in play that we do expect.”

KickingBird Golf Club will offer a golf-ball tracking technology called TrackMan Range that will allow golfers to track data and play various games. The cost of the tracking system and the installation of the technology will come to $455,000.

“It’s like a simulator experience, but you’re hitting off of real turf or even our artificial turf at the back of the range,” Soerensen said.

To date, construction on KickingBird Golf Club has cost over $18,500,000. In total, $19,150,000 has been approved for construction funding on the project, leaving almost $600,000 in the fund for future change orders.