Voters to decide park’s future
On Oct. 12, Edmond residents will vote on a temporary sales tax to purchase 22 acres of land south of Hafer Park to avoid luxury homes being built. Voting registration closed Friday for the election.
The land is adjacent to a main walking path, a large playground and a smaller play area and duck pond in Hafer Park.
Earlier this year, a petition was filed to “SAVE Edmond’s Hafer Park,” conducted by Ashley Bradley with 9,094 signatures.
The petition came after The City of Edmond, approved development for restricted retail and retail gain commercial in 2017 that allows for the “Mansion Block Luxury Homes” to be built.
Because of Edmond residents’ concerns for development on the site, the property owners representatives, city officials and residents met earlier this year and proposed allowing Edmond residents to vote on a temporary tax to purchase the land.
This is not the first time the public has tried to save the privately owned land.
A previous project in 2006 and another one in 2017 both were overturned by public vote.
According to The City of Edmond, the sales tax would increase 0.25%. It would increase Edmond’s overall sales tax rate next year from 8.25% to 8.50% from Jan. 1 to Dec. 31 with a return to a 8.25% rate on Jan. 1, 2023.
As of now, the total cost of the land is $3,998,000 plus closing costs, according to the purchasing contract.
Small business owner and Edmond resident Megan Nye opened “Life’s A Picnic” in June 2021. She’s concerned how construction might affect her new enterprise.
Nye’s business focuses on relaxing and elegant picnics in the Edmond and OKC metro area.
“75% of my picnics have been in Hafer Park,” Nye stated in an email.
Nye stated Hafer park is her first choice when a client books a picnic.
“The main location I set up is along a trail on a hill overlooking the pond at Hafer. It’s a beautiful view and is the main request when I book date-night picnics. Hafer is quiet and peaceful, while still having all the ducks walking around, which is really fun to see. There are spots that are perfect for adults, separate from all the playground areas,” Nye stated.
According to the subject property outline, there is a possibility that clients of “Life’s A Picnic” will see and hear the construction.
“If I have to find a new location, it will really hurt my business. Mitch Park is an option that I could set up, but it’s farther from where I live and I don’t feel it’s as cozy as Hafer. Mitch is much more open and less trees,” Nye stated, “There are other parks I could use, but not many with a beautiful pond.”
“I’ve received a few bookings from random people who were just walking the trails at the park on a day that I had a picnic set up. They loved the set up, snapped a picture of my sign and called for a booking. I’m not sure if that will continue in a different location,” Nye stated.
Customers of “Life’s A Picnic” request copies of past picnics.
“People see my pictures online and will say, “Set mine up exactly like this one, same place, same colors.”
“I feel there will be numerous small businesses affected if the construction happens. Many local photographers use Hafer Park for family photo shoots,” Nye stated.
In a previous interview conducted in April, UCO student Hannah Morrison said laying in her hammock at Hafer Park after a long day studying is her favorite activity.
“I go there to find peace and quiet and to watch as much of the sunset as I can,” Morrison said. “If homes were to be built so close to the park, I think the peace and quiet would be lost and views obstructed.”
If the vote does not pass, the landowner can continue developing on the land.
According to The City of Edmond, sales tax dollars received that are more than the cost of the land will be used to improve the land or provide other capital improvements for the city.