In 2019, the Oklahoma City Community Foundation celebrated its 50th Anniversary. To commemorate this occasion, the Community Foundation decided to plant nearly 800 trees along the Oklahoma River.
The 3-mile stretch on the north side of the river between Portland and Western Avenue was what the Community Foundation’s Parks and Public Space Director, Brian Dougherty, referred to as “no man’s land.” The south side of the river already had plenty of trees, so the Community Foundation President Nancy Anthony decided that the Community Foundation should create a beautification impact along this stretch of land on the river’s north side.
A good deal of strategy and planning went into the project and the Community Foundation worked with utility companies to make sure the trees’ growth would not affect gas or power lines. The entire project was one of the Community Foundation’s most ambitious projects and it took nearly 6 months to get all of the trees planted.
Today, the trees are growing and any that were lost due to inclement weather have been replaced. This portion of the river trail is becoming more and more popular. What was once deemed as “no man’s land” is now enjoyed by bikers, runners, joggers and families from all over the metro.
The Oklahoma City Community Foundation is distributing more than $70,000 this spring to enhance, activate and beautify six well-used areas in our community. The grants are part of the Community Foundation’s Parks & Public Space Initiative spring grant cycle, a program that has invested $4.5 million into the community the past 20 years to encourage central Oklahoma residents to enjoy parks and other public areas.
The grants come at a crucial time for our community after crippling ice storms and excruciatingly cold temperatures ravaged thousands of healthy trees, shrubs and green spaces this winter. At the same time, parks are filled with an unprecedented amount of people trying to stay active safely through the pandemic.
“With the unusually harsh winter weather, our trees and green spaces took quite a beating this past year,” said Nancy Anthony, Oklahoma City Community Foundation president. “Our Parks & Public Space Initiative grants will work to add back some of that greenery and rebuild the places that community members cherish in their neighborhoods, as well as create new areas of respite and activity across the city.”
Grants provided through the Community Foundation’s Parks & Public Space Initiative spring cycle include:
City of Choctaw – $11,050 to add landscaping, trees and benches to the historic area around the Rock Island Caboose.
Fields and Futures– $18,150 for landscaping additions to athletic fields at Mary Golda Ross Middle School and Classen School of Advanced Studies at Northeast High School.
Lynn Institute of Healthcare Research – $15,000 to fund the trees, seating and stage needed to create a pocket park in the northeast Oklahoma City neighborhood.
Oklahoma City Public Schools – $7,550 to resurface a walking track at Hillcrest Elementary School in south Oklahoma City.
RIVERSPORT Foundation – $12,000 to add landscaping and trees to a Boathouse District welcome area at the intersection of Phillips Avenue and SE 5th Street.
The Parks & Public Space Initiative supports the beautification, development and activation of neighborhood/community parks, school parks, trails and other public lands. This initiative grew out of the Margaret Annis Boys Trust, which was established through a gift from Miss Boys’ estate in 1991 to support and encourage landscaping and beautification projects in parks, medians and other public lands in Oklahoma City. Eligible groups interested in development, beautification or expanded use of a particular public space can determine grant participation eligibility for the summer cycle by visiting occf.org/parks.