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Business and Economy

Cleanup Set For MAPS 3 Park Site; Westbury Country Club's Future

The site of the MAPS 3 park in downtown Oklahoma City.
Samuel Perry
The Journal Record
The site of the MAPS 3 park in downtown Oklahoma City.

Ever since the 2009 passage of the MAPS 3 sales tax incentive that would fund a series of civic project in Oklahoma City, residents have been waiting for the park.

The so-called "core-to-shore" vision would connect the Myriad Botanical Gardens with the Oklahoma River, with an already-built pedestrian bridge bisecting Interstate 40 and connecting the two halves of the 70-acre greenbelt.

The northern half of the park, which is supposed to open in 2018, used to be the site of light industrial facilities - gas stations, lumber yards, and garages - and as a result, there's some groundwater contamination. The cleanup is being handled by the environmental services company Enercon and principal Joe Foster, The Journal Record's Brian Brus reports:

Foster said his company found various compounds and metals such as lead throughout the park, primarily in eight small areas that are now slated for excavation. The materials will be hauled to a regulated landfill. He described them as minor environmental impacts. Clean soil will be brought in as needed; Foster said it’s difficult to estimate volumes needed because City Hall plans to put a pond in the park. As for concerns of contaminated groundwater interacting with water features, Foster said the problem layer is about 25 feet down, well out of range of the shallow, lined pond. Foster’s company will handle all the excavation work, separate from the contractors tasked with building the park back up, further reducing the risk of cross-contamination.

"This week the city and the state [Department of Environmental Quality] signed an agreement to use [Environmental Protection Agency] grants to clean up waste," said The Journal Record's managing editor Adam Brooks. " They're also going to take steps like using different cleanup and construction crews, separate companies, so that should prevent any cross-contamination that could happen."

The project is estimated to cost $720,000, Brus writes:

The Oklahoma City Council approved a memorandum of agreement with the Oklahoma Department of Environmental Quality on Tuesday to enable the city to comply with site-specific cleanup grants received from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency last year. The city’s brownfields program applied to the EPA for three grants worth $200,000 each. A 20-percent cost share is required as well, funded through the MAPS 3 budget.
The entrance gate to the closed Westbury Country Club in Oklahoma City.
Credit Samuel Perry / The Journal Record
The Journal Record
The entrance gate to the closed Westbury Country Club in Oklahoma City.

Former Fairways' Future Finalized

For years, the golf course at Westbury Country Club has sat unused, slowly deteriorating beyond the viability of repair. Residents near SW 29th Street and Morgan Road in far southwest Oklahoma City wanted the city to reopen the club as a municipal course.

But Oklahoma City doesn't want to pay the estimated $10 million it would cost to repair and reopen the facility, or have another course to compete with nearby Earlywine and Trosper Park. The Journal Record's Molly Fleming reports the club was sold at auction in 2013 after a series of ownership changes:

It was purchased for $8,500 per acre, for an overall price of about $1.33 million, by Romeo Danais. Home developer Ron Walters will build his third gated senior-housing community on the land, as well as other homes. Walters said he plans to renovate the existing 50,000-square-foot clubhouse. The project has attracted concern from Westbury residents who don’t want their property values to decrease. They were also worried about the homes being built on a flood plain, according to letters sent to the City Council.

"Walters says that he spent $100,000 on a flood study, and they're going to design the communities with that in mind so there won't be any problems," Brooks said.

During the Jan. 5 city council meeting, Mayor Mick Cornett told Councilman Larry McAtee the two have probably talked more aboutt his project than any other in McAtee's Ward 3 since the two have been serving together.

"Sometimes people don’t want to hear that this is the best outcome they could have hoped for, because it’s not what they had and it’s not what they want.," Cornett said. "You know, I wish we could back up the clock 5 or 10 years and figure out a different way to get where we are today. But a series of events and ownership that wasn’t able to make ends meet has led us to this conclusion.”

Walters has divided the land into four tracts, according to Fleming:

Walters has divided the land into four tracts. Tract 1, along the north side, will be gated senior housing, similar to Walters’ other projects in Edmond and Moore. The cottages will be duplexes, triplexes, quadplexes and not larger than a five-plex. The northeast’s side tract 2 will be housing for people age 55 and older. Then, tract 3 will be 90 single-family lots. Walters will build homes on some of the lots, and others will be sold. He said he plans to break ground on tracts 1 and 2 later this year.

The Business Intelligence Report is a collaborative news project between KGOU and The Journal Record.

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