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Could Stephenson Park in Edmond reopen this summer?
Stephenson Park in Edmond, long known as the city’s “rocketship” park due to its eye-catching spacecraft-themed slide, will soon once again be available for the public to enjoy. The park’s renovation is underway with Oklahoma City firm Freese and Nichols.
“We expect the park to be open for public use by early summer,” said Bill Begley, marketing and public relations manager for the City of Edmond. “There will be some parts that won’t be complete until this fall.”
How long has Stephenson Park been in Edmond?
Stephenson Park, located on Boulevard between Littler Ave. and E. 4th St., was commissioned in 1892 and consists of a little more than three acres near the Edmond History Museum.
In 1934, play equipment and a tennis court were added to the park. Also, as part of the Works Progress Administration, rock walls and bridges were built throughout the park.
“The park has changed its name and playground equipment a few times over the last 130 years, but its role in the community has remained unchanged,” said Edmond History Society and Museum Executive Director Amy Dee Stephens. “Stephenson Park is in Edmond’s memory bank as a place to connect with nature and spend time with friends and family.”
When did renovations at Stephenson Park in Edmond begin?
During the latter half of 2022, Freese and Nichols began executing the planned renovation of Stephenson Park, its first such makeover in 88 years. Work currently is underway on a new playground and an expanded pavilion.
Also part of the plan:
Better food truck access
Planned parking options, including a parking lot with 50 spaces to be constructed as an overflow area for downtown Edmond as the community continues to grow.
The popularity of Stephenson Park is enhanced by its location across the street from Clegern Elementary, an Edmond elementary school built in 1931, explained Freese and Nichols Executive Vice President of Operations Tricia Hatley.
“I have many memories of playing on the rocketship slide at Stephenson Park as a young child in the 70’s and 80’s,” she said. “I recognize the impact of this project for children of all ages who continue to enjoy the space where so many Oklahomans have played, daydreamed and imagined what the future would hold. Childhood dreams have a way of coming full circle, and it is an honor for our Freese and Nichols team to be involved in something so personally meaningful.”
Why is Stephenson Park in Edmond being renovated?
According to the City of Edmond, safety standards and the need for updated equipment prompted the Stephenson Park renovations. Freese and Nichols, the Oklahoma City firm tasked with the redevelopment, was honored with an award of excellence for their overall Edmond expansion plan by the American Planning Association in 2015.
What’s next for the Stephenson Park rocketship slide?
Height and heat figure notably in the memories of Edmond residents and others who, as children, enjoyed the slide, Stephens said.
“When people talk about it, they remember how high up it felt and how hot the surface of the slide would get in the summer,” she said.
The slide, minus the rocketship from which it extended, currently is in the care of the Edmond History Museum. According to Stephens, multiple plans involving the slide itself are being considered.
“We are thinking about ways to best display it in the future, or even to figure out how to incorporate the slide into a remodeled children’s area and make it usable again in a safe way,” she said. “We feel like the community would appreciate the chance to still experience the slide.”
As for the rocket ship itself? It will be reinstalled as a work of art at the entrance of Stephenson Park, whose post-renovation landscape will continue to feature Veterans Plaza as well as other familiar landmarks, including the rock bridges and most of the trees.