It’s hard not to notice the changes to Mineral Wells Park in Guthrie while driving past on Division Street.
There are new play structures visible from the street that intrigue and excite younger passengers.
While the park is closed for construction, crews are quickly making progress on the improvements set to be finished sometime in September of this year. The basketball court has been redone, new play structures are completed, a new splashpad is visible and parking, sidewalks and pavilions are being built.
The Mineral Wells Park Improvement Project began in November of last year, when Guthrie won a grant from the Recreation Department of the Oklahoma Tourism Board’s Land & Water Conservation Fund. Work was halted in May, due to the spread of COVID-19; however, crews have resumed, and progress is evident.
Van Cordray of the city of Guthrie Parks Board said he was pleased with the progress and liked the idea from the start.
“I thought it was a great idea,” said Cordray. “We could not turn this down. It’s such a great use of an historic space.”
When the project was presented to the Parks Board, a few changes were made with safety in mind.
“We moved the splashpad to a safer area a little further away from the pond and street,” noted Cordray. “And we moved a few things around for safety. We were very excited that we qualified for the grant. This is incredible.”
The city of Guthrie matched 50 percent of the total $437,500 with some of the Capital Improvements Project funds raised by a half-cent sales tax increase.
The new sidewalks, play structures, pavilions and parking areas will be ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) compliant.
Cordray added, “Before people just had to park where ever they could off the road or along the grass. Now with parking and sidewalks, it will be easier for people to park and more accessible for people in wheelchairs.”
Cordray said that a lot of time and effort went into the planning of the improvements, including the “old-timey” theme.
“Someone found a postcard from the turn of the century, and it had a picture of the old pavilion from Mineral Wells when it was first built,” said Cordray. “The new pavilions and play structures are meant to imitate that style.”
The new splash-pad is located near the front of the park and visible from Division Street.
“It’s such a great alternative to the pool. What I like about our public pool in Guthrie is that it is very affordable to go to,” said Cordray. “But we now also have a splash-pad at Banner Park that is free for families who may not have even the money for Highland Park or who may not be able to get there; and soon we’ll have this one here, and that’ll be free too.”
A state arborist was consulted about diseased and mature trees that needed to be replaced or removed. Those will be moved during the project.
“Parks are for everybody,” said Cordray. “That’s one of the great things I like about working with the Park Board. It’s not an exclusive thing; it’s for the whole town. Anyone can come an enjoy the park, and this looks fun!”