The construction of Depot Park took another step forward on Tuesday when crews began working on the plaza surrounding the Mercy Train. Once completed, the plaza will be stained, stamped concrete and will contain benches and new landscaping. It will then connect to the rest of the downtown streetscape project.
Todd Yeager, chair of the Ardmore Main Street Authority Board of Trustees, said this section of the park is being built by the Oklahoma Department of Transportation as part of phase two of the streetscape project. After this section of the project is completed, work will begin on the park in earnest. In the mean time the AMSA is focusing on planning and fundraising for the remainder of the project.
“This has all worked out well, timing wise, because we’re still busy fundraising, and we couldn’t really do any work down there right now because they’re using it as a staging area for the streetscape project,” Yeager said. “This gives us a bit more time to keep our fundraising going.”
The park received a $600,000 grant from the Oklahoma Tourism and Recreation Department in June. In order to receive the full amount, this number must be matched by funds raised by the AMSA. While the matching funds are already in place the park will need additional funding for completion as well as future maintenance and upkeep.
Yeager said because this grant comes from federal funding, all plans must be approved by the State Historic Preservation Office. But Main Street has a plan in place to make sure this goes smoothly.
“Our contractor suggested that we submit them pieces of the plan along the way as opposed to getting the whole thing laid out only to find out they don’t like parts of it and tell us to start over,” Yeager said. “We had a meeting a few weeks ago with the city about the first 35% plan. We’ve submitted that to SHPO and they have around 45 days to approve it.”
Yeager said once the first 35% is approved, the AMSA will then submit additional plans of 60%, 90% and finally 100% completion. All the while fundraising will continue and they are currently working on convenient ways for individuals and businesses to make smaller, individual contributions to the park.