Oklahoma City Mayor David Holt could barely contain his excitement and wonder at the new Scissortail Park behind him as he met with the news media Thursday.
“I’m overwhelmed. I’m awestruck. I’m excited. I’m anxious,” said Holt.
“This is an historic, once in a generation kind of event for a city,” he said.
“As we stand here on Thursday, this is the last day in our history that this park won’t be a part of our daily lives.”
The opening of the main part of the park across from the Convention Center still under construction is only the first phase. The old Union Station renovation will be opened later and then jumping I-40 south the lower park will open later.
The ribbon cutting will be early Friday afternoon and the Kings of Leon concert that evening on the Great Lawn in the park will be the inaugural events.
Over the weekend the park will still feature a number of activities for people to see what their tax dollars have produced so far in
Holt emphasized that they would have “an unprecedented amount of law enforcement present” to make sure the people would be safe.
He emphasized that he respected those who would not come because of the size of the crowd, but said he and his family would be present for the events and had no concern for safety after all of the preparations that have been made.
There will be a very large crowd that will not be able to find parking close to the park, said Holt.
He said the streetcars were designed and installed just for such events and encouraged people arriving to park away from the park and ride the streetcars in.
What to not bring
“Just think about what you would not be able to bring in if you were going to a concert at the Chesapeake Arena,” said Holt.
He encouraged those who would be attending to look over the lists of items that would not be allowed in the park for the concert.
Information about the Grand Opening weekend can be found HERE.
One of the biggest controversies of the opening has been that it will be outdoors in a park, so by Oklahoma law, the city cannot ban guns in the park.
Oklahoma law explicitly forbids cities and towns from keeping people from carrying guns in a public park.
Some have said that if people are allowed to carry guns around where alcohol was being served, they would not come to the concert.
Holt said that there was no choice but for the city to comply with the law when it comes to allowing guns in the park.
“All gun laws are state laws,” said Holt.
As to why some things other than guns could not be brought in, he said, “We’ve created a concert venue,” and so the things that would not be allowed into a concert at the Chesapeake would not be allowed in at the Kings of Leon concert Friday night.
We asked about guns not being allowed in the Chesapeake arena but being allowed at the Kings of Leon concert. Holt said, “Inconsistency in logic has no bearing on the enforceability of state law.”
“There’s a state law that says you can’t bring a gun into the Chesapeake Arena and a state law that says you have to allow guns in parks.”
Along those lines, Free Press asked Holt if he would push the legislature as a mayor to reduce some of the pre-emption laws that the legislature has passed to keep cities from passing certain kinds of ordinances or creating certain kinds of zoning.
He said that sure he was for “cities rights” and the ability of cities to be in control of their own space.
Long time coming
Holt recalled that the discussion about a central green space had started as early as the 1960s and then really took off when I-40 was moved south to it
He said that even though the Myriad Gardens was valued for years, “there was a desire for more” and so plans for Scissortail Park were explored leading to the opening this week.
He pointed out that earlier MAPS plans had set the stage for the park finally being a part of MAPS 3 which is just now expiring.
“It’s a reminder, that if you are persistent and patient in American Democracy, you can realize amazing achievements,” Holt said.
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