Temperatures may be falling as autumn settles in, but recent visitors to the Tulsa Zoo & Living Museum and some Tulsa parks are likely to have noticed a flurry of activity at those locations, all the same.
Gary Schellhorn, the resource and facilities coordinator for the Tulsa Public Works Department, said crews are busy making improvements to some of the facilities at the zoo and at a number of parks. Heading the list is the construction of a $5 million sea lion exhibit at the zoo, which is expected to be completed in July 2011, and new heating and insulation at the zoo's giraffe barn, which should be finished by the end of November, Schellhorn said. That work was budgeted at $170,000.
A female giraffe died of hypothermia at the zoo in January when overnight temperatures plunged into the single digits. That incident prompted the improvements to the structure.
As for the work at Tulsa parks, completion of a new skate park and surrounding infrastructure work at 2910 E. 56th North is expected within two weeks, Schellhorn said. The skate park was paid for with $500,000 in private funds, while the accompanying access road, lighting, landscaping, water service and other features are being paid for by the city at a cost of $750,000. Schellhorn said a company called California Skateparks is building the skate park itself.
Renovations to the playground at Florence Park, 1936 S. Gary Ave., started late last month -- a project that is typical of the work being done at parks around the city, according to Schellhorn. He said some structural damage to the playground's concrete and retaining walls is being repaired, and when that is done, two new playground equipment pods will be installed. That work is being done by Magnum Construction at a cost of $130,000, with the works expected to be complete by March 2011.
Similar work is being done at Maxwell Park, 5251 E. Newton; Darlington Park, 5179 E. 29th St.; and Owen Park, 560 N. Maybelle, where playground equipment is being replaced and a rubber safety surface is being installed on the playground instead of bark mulch, he said.
Owen Park is also having a water playground installed, with completion of that feature expected within two weeks, although Schellhorn noted it will be closed for the season until next spring.
At Braden Park, 5036 E. 7th St., he said crews are working on pond and drainage improvements, as well as installing new sidewalks.
"They're basically changing it from an urban-type pond water feature to more of a pond with grass banks," he said.
As long as that list is, Schellhorn said it will get even longer next year.
"We've got a bunch more (playground projects) in design right now," he said.
The biggest project to be started next year, he said, will be a new soccer field complex occupying part of a 320-acre plot at 3500 E. 56th St. North. In the spring, crews will begin the first phase of the project, which includes 17 international-size soccer fields, a concessions and restrooms building, parking lots, roads, lighting and irrigation. The city currently is advertising for bids on construction, he said.
"It's a huge project," Schellhorn said.
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