By Joy Hampton
The Norman Transcript
NORMAN — Dancing fountains, a wishbone entry drive, a promenade around the pond, arbors and more will make Legacy Park the crowning jewel of the University North Park, city council members said this week as last minute discussions continued on how to spend the money generated by the Tax Increment Finance District.
The UNP TIF used percentage sales and ad valorem taxes to pay for improvements along 24th Avenue Northwest as one of Norman’s newest retail and event venues has unfolded.
Some of that tax money was set aside to pay for Legacy Park.
“We can’t control everything in the TIF. The public was promised spectacular,” Council member Tom Kovach said. “We can control Legacy Park, so it’s incumbent on us to deliver spectacular in the one project we can control.”
After reviewing options for fountain upgrades presented by the project managers, members of city council voiced support for additional fountains and colored lighting.
“We can’t sync it with the music but it will give us ability to digitally control the height and color of individual fountains,” Kovach said. “So we can program sequences to go with the music.”
While a request from the TIF oversight committee generated some last-minute discussions of the location of the public restrooms, the award winning architectural plans for the park remain intact with some enhancements to the fountains in the pond.
The oversight committee recently asked the Norman City Council to reconsider the park’s design to accommodate facilities to serve the stage area, but the proposed change could cost $400,000.
The restrooms in the current plan are two minutes from the amphitheater, said Parks Director Jud Foster.
Bathrooms in Andrews Park are closer than that and some members of the oversight committee said the distance creates a problem for the youngest performers such as children dancing in ballet recitals. The committee wants Legacy Park to be user-friendly.
While the public restrooms will stay where they are in the current plans, sewer lines will be laid in order to allow an addition of restrooms closer to the stage later, council members decided after hearing about the $400,000 price tag.
“If it’s that big of a deal, I think we can raise the money privately,” council member Robert Castleberry said.
The new proposal would have put the bathrooms closer to the stage at the entrance of the park. Those sites were being saved for large pieces of sculpture.
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