OKLAHOMA CITY - Community leaders cut the ribbon on a major upgrade to the scenic running trail that connects the Boathouse District with Scissortail Park Wednesday afternoon.
The Oklahoma City Community Foundation River Trail officially opened after a huge landscaping project funded in part by that organization to mark 50 years since its founding.
“We`ve had an opportunity as one of our 50th anniversary projects to turn around and activate to the next level a three-mile stretch on the north side of the Oklahoma River,” Brian Dougherty, the Director of the Parks and Public Space Initiative at the Oklahoma City Community Foundation said.
The project brought in roughly 800 trees along the once barren running trail.
“Nothing I don`t think can be any more engaging of the whole community than the river that brings north and south together,” Nancy Anthony of the Oklahoma City Community Foundation said, “and goes all the way from east to west. So it was a really logical thing for us to think about the river.”
Ribbon cut, the first joggers took off on the three-mile stretch.
Organizers hope bees come soon after as the choice in foliage was designed specifically to benefit the local eco-system.
“There`s about eight acres that we`ve done in native prairie grasses,” Dougherty said, “and wildflowers that will contribute to the pollinators.”
The south side of the Oklahoma River is already developed, but the north side had been long neglected.
One reason for leaving the area untouched was the continued construction on I-40.
“This side was kind of neglected a little bit, mostly because of the construction of the highway,” Anthony said. “It really wasn`t encouraging with all the noise and the other things that were going on. But now that that`s all complete, we really think this is going to be a great opportunity for Oklahoma City.”
Organizers say the upgrade will benefit not just Oklahoma City, but also the entire metro area with almost 100 miles of bike trails working as green lungs through urban space.
“We`re starting to link Norman and Edmond and Moore and Oklahoma City together,” Dougherty said. “It works back for public health, for wellness. It works back for quality of life, economic development.”
The foundation hopes that legacy, one of improving public health and quality of life, lasts for many generations to come.
“We really also wanted to have some things that would be a permanent addition to the community that really would be something that would mark the community foundation`s contributions,” Anthony said.