The Luther Parks Commission will be getting some help with planning and design assistance for Wildhorse Park from the University of Oklahoma Institute for Quality Communities. Town leaders submitted a proposal to the OU IQC with an appeal to help improve the park east of Town where the baseball and softball fields are, along with aging park equipment and crumbling infrastructure.
Parks Commission Chair Kasey Wood was notified earlier this month about Luther getting accepted into the program, and initial meetings are already in the works to get the ball rolling. A team from OU’s College of Architecture will spend the next several months working on a proposal.
The good news comes at a time when the park really needs it. From parking issues, to old bleachers and park equipment, and a need for updating, fixing and modernizing, the park has suffered another blow due to the rains this season. The small pavilion and picnic area, and sidewalk leading to it is closed because of concrete damage blamed on excess water. Wood said she is grateful to Luther Town Trustee Brian Hall and Oklahoma County District One Superintendent Brian Jasper for helping assess the damage and try to fix the pavilion area.
Regarding the IQC proposal, Wood and Mayor Jenni White submitted the paperwork in April that included letters from parents, volunteers and school leaders to make the case. IQC has worked in other communities including Enid, Waurika, Wynnewood, Blanchard and Vinita on various projects.
Here is an excerpt of Luther’s proposal:
If a plan was created to update all the baseball and softball fields, create and install parking and sidewalks for safety, build new concession facilities, install new park equipment and picnic areas, build a basketball court with appropriate lighting and develop walking/biking trails, Luther would have a premier outdoor entertainment facility to excite the community and lure prospective business.
Making use of our beautiful, heavily treed, undeveloped Park area for walking, running and/or bicycling trails will allow all ages in our community to participate in healthy activities and create a place for the Town’s citizens to connect and engage in a wide variety of activities to increase their health happiness and wellbeing.
Unfortunately, Luther’s parks have been woefully ignored throughout the Town’s previous struggle to maintain its existence in the face of economic downturn and the exodus of many citizens to more urban areas. With our population again beginning to increase with the expansion of transportation infrastructure around our community, and as more people are turning their appreciation toward agrarian spaces and fresher, cleaner, food purchased closer to its source, Luther’s rural feel and easy access to I-44 and Route 66, make it an ideal community into which families can locate and put down roots. And they will. Luther just needs to provide families more reasons to do so.”
The proposal also included letters from Luther Supt. Barry Gunn, Longtime Little League Coach and Community Advocate Greg Westermeier, Fire Captain and Park Volunteer Bo Langston, For Our Community Founder Sheila Farmer and Planning Commission Member and Parent Heather Perry.
In her letter, Mrs. Farmer explained some of recent work to the softball field.
In August 2017, the softball field had safe issue repairs that were required before the fall season could begin. Representatives of 4 our Community, Inc., made a detailed list of supplies necessary and applied for help from Lowe’s Heroes, a program dedicated to enriching local communities. After we were approved for $2500 in donated supplies, we coordinated with the school and community. Over 50 students and residents worked to repair and/r paint bleachers, dugouts, fencing, landscaping, the backstop, equipment storage and more. While this was a major improvement to the site it was only a fraction of the repairs that were required at that time.
The Town of Luther is a wonderful community that is home to many new families who are nonliving aside long-time residents. our citizens, people of all ages, deserve safe and enjoyable parks and recreational areas. Your help in making that a reality would be deeply appreciated.”
The inclusion into OU’s Institute for Quality Communities comes with some cost, however, funding is available through the Oklahoma Municipal League to pay for some of it. In addition, other fundraising efforts will be underway to raise money to pay for park improvements.