McAlester News-Capital, McAlester, OK

State news

October 12, 2013

Amusement planning: Meadowlake could get Ferris wheel, other rides

ENID, Okla. — After the trail system, the next big thing in Enid could be installation of a Ferris wheel and other amusement-style rides at Meadowlake Park.

Construction is ongoing on the north side of the lake, where workers began to lay concrete around the recently finished carousel building.

PDF: Preliminary site plan and ride brochures for Meadowlake Park improvement discussion

After the massive public trail system and plans to spend more than $700,000 this year alone on playground equipment, there may not be the political will to spend hundreds of thousands of taxpayer dollars on brand-new rides. Matt Davis, who volunteers as Park Board chairman, said he hopes there will be donors who step up so the project gets a good kick start.

A good case study, he noted, was the completion of Champlin Park.

The park reopened this week after being renovated. Private donors gave more than $140,000 toward the project, which was led by Park Board member Hallie Caldwell.

“I am continually amazed at the willingness of the people of Enid to give,” she said.

There hasn’t been a hard push by the advisory board for the city to place amusement rides at Meadowlake. A site plan commissioned by the city for the carousel building, which was finished in June of this year, includes space for a “future” Ferris wheel and swing ride. Still, Davis said, he feels like the project couldn’t thrive without outside support.

“Overall, if I were looking for a consensus on the Park Board, I’d say there’s a consensus that we really need to work toward a public-private partnership of revitalizing Meadowlake Park,” he said.

Installing amusement park rides at the park is just one idea, he said. Other ideas generated during Park Board meetings include bringing back paddleboats at the lake and installing a zip-line and ropes course.

“There’s a lot of ways to skin this cat. This is just what one group of us came up with,” he said.

Enid City Commission has discussed paddleboats but would need to adopt an ordinance to proceed.

Paraphrasing Enid’s travel and tourism adviser Berkeley Young, Davis said Enid needs a leisure site to attract visitors from other regions.

“With a little bit of money and effort, it could be one of those things that makes Enid stand out,” he said. “If you had some cool rides out there and a place where you could get some refreshments, or sit down and have a glass of wine, I think people would use it. Yeah, I think it could be a tourist destination.”

If the renovations of Meadowlake Park include those efforts, it would harken back to the past. Davis said he remembers “The Bullet,” and paddleboats on the lake.

“When I was a kid, there were a whole bunch more rides out there, and a snack bar,” he said. “It’s a great place for a family to go out. It’s just kind of waned in recent years, and it’s something that with a little elbow grease and a little attention, we could make it really one of the signature places of Enid.”

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