This doe and fawn were spotted on the acreage that Tahlequah Mission Park Project wants to preserve.

Residents in the area of First Street and South Mission Avenue are raising funds to purchase 21 acres to create a park west of Muskogee Avenue.

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

The residents began the project more than six months ago, when HolderWorth Inc. bought the 21 acres to rezone for apartments. HolderWorth met with members of the organization and said they would give the group until the end of January to raise money to purchase the land.

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

The Tahlequah Mission Park Project was born and its 25-plus members are working to raise the money. This acreage serves as a habitat to animals such as deer, fox, rabbits, raccoons, and a lone mountain lion. TMPP is looking to create various hiking and walking trails, along with a community park. Within this park, the organization hopes to create a pond and establish zones for the elderly and family-orientated gatherings.

"There are no parks in neighborhoods on the west side of Muskogee Avenue other than the complex in the industrial park that 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 fundraise for the land purchase. TMPP seeks to accomplish this goal by community outreach fundraising and applying for various grants to aid in this endeavor. At an estimated $260,000, this 21-acre land plot is important to the surrounding neighborhood and their families.

"The group's challenge is getting the word out and raise 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."

To accomplish this fundraising goal, Northeastern State University students involved in a public relations and advertising course have taken on the challenge to promote and assist the TMPP organization. Students were tasked to create a promotion through social media accounts, press releases, outreach programming and video installments.

"This specific project is basically us learning how to advertise for an event and work as a group rather than individually," said Hunter McCrary, Tahlequah senior. "The importance of this project is to fulfill the mission of the organization so families have a place to go to as a community."

The first student-led assessment for this project is to create and present their fundraising ideas before the TMPP board. The initial promotion idea is to fundraise brick engravings for those that donate a certain amount to help fund the Tahlequah Mission Park Project. These bricks are tiered to match the equivalent price bracket for their appropriate size. They are engraved with the donor's name and or affiliated family or organizations. There are three sizes and the bricks will be placed in the park.

The latest campaign is for someone to purchase the name of the park.

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

A TMPP account is set up at BancFirst and those interested can make a donation at any time. For information, email Tahlequah Mission Park Project at missionparkproject@gmail.com, or call 918-616-1166.

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