First and Mission

On First Street and Mission Avenue in Tahlequah, a group of locals are hoping to purchase a plot of land to create a new multipurpose community park.

Residents near First Street and South Mission Avenue received good news before the Christmas break about their plans to buy 21 acres to create a park west of Muskogee Avenue.

The group has applied for and received notice of a 501(c)(3), which will make donations tax-deductible.

The residents began the project more than six months ago, when HolderWorth purchased the 21 acres to rezone for apartments.

HolderWorth executives met with members of the organization and said they would work with the group, giving it until the end of January 2019 to raise the needed funds to buy the land.

"The good news is the owners of the property gave us an extension until the end of 2019," said Dana Boren-Boer, vice president of the Tahlequah Mission Park Project. "Members of our organization met with the owners and the offer was made for us to continue raising money."

Boren-Boer said the group has been working with an individual from Vian who has written a grant for raw land twice and been approved for it.

"The grant is a 80/20, where an organization provides 20 percent of the funding," she said. "We believe this is very doable."

The organization has already received donations from Green Country Cinema, BancFirst and many individuals.

TMPP's 25-plus members are working to raise the money. This acreage is home to local fauna, such as deer, fox, rabbits and raccoons. TMPP is looking to create various hiking and walking trails, along with a community park. The organization also hopes to create a pond and establish zones for the elderly and family-orientated gatherings.

"There are no city parks in neighborhoods on the west side of Muskogee Avenue other than the large complex in the industrial park, which has no dwellings around it," said Dr. Craig Clifford, TMPP president. "The plans are to develop a small portion of the property for a playground area, with the majority remaining as a natural wooded area."

The TMPP organization's goal is to create a natural wildlife preserve that protects the surrounding ecosystem for generations to come and provides a safe and enjoyable community park.

"We are just a group of concerned citizens who are trying to keep the neighborhood just that: a neighborhood," said Jeremy Liles, TMPP treasurer. "It was brought to the group's attention that the land in question was purchased and the owner wanted to rezone it to build apartments. This group came together with a different vision for the property - a natural park that can benefit Tahlequah."

The first campaign to ensure the success of this project is to raise money for the land purchase. TMPP seeks to accomplish this goal through community outreach and applying for various grants. At an estimated $260,000, the 21-acre land plot is important to the surrounding neighborhood and their families, TMPP members say.

"The group's challenge is getting the word out and raising the needed funds to purchase the property," said Liles. "The project could use cash donations to help reach the goal, but getting more people involved with the vision is critically important."

The initial promotion idea is to offer brick engravings to those who donate a certain amount to help fund the project. These bricks are tiered to match the equivalent price brackets for their appropriate sizes. Each will be engraved with a donor's name or affiliated family or organizations. There are three sizes and the bricks will be placed in the park.

The latest campaign is to get someone to buy the right to the name the park.

"For a $260,000 donation, the park can be in your name,"said Clifford.

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