With the train depot nearing completion at Crystal Beach Park, it appears the Kiwanis Train could be back up and running soon.

"We expect the train will be running during Crystal Christmas," City Manager Alan Riffel said following a meeting the Woodward Parks and Beautification Board on Tuesday.

The parks board was given an update on progress of the train depot during the meeting.

Mike Lowden, director of public facilities, said the depot is "all but done."

"Hopefully within a week all the final touches will be done.  And when that's complete, we will set the train on the tracks," Lowden said.

In addition to the train depot update, the parks board members also received an update on the softball complex.

Riffel said that the complex is now "in the final design phase," with bids to go out in the next 45 to 60 days.

"We're looking at a late November, early December bid," he said.

The facility will then be constructed over the winter and early spring, with time provided over the summer for the new turf to grow in, he said.

"Our target is by the next fall softball season to be playing on the new fields," Riffel said.

While the new softball complex is being designed as a 5-field facility, the city manager told The News that "it depends on the bids we receive if all that can be accomplished at this time."

Riffel said the city currently has around $1.7 million in remaining funds from the original $25 million that was allotted for the Crystal Beach Park improvements.

If the bids for the complete 5-field softball facility exceeds that $1.7 million, then "we might have to finish it in phases," Riffel said.

For example, he said if the $1.7 million could only cover the costs of 3 of the 5 fields, then those 3 fields would be built with space left for the remaining 2 fields.

Under new business, Riffel and Lowden gave the parks board an update on the pond cleaning at Rotary Park.  Riffel said that around 100 fish, mostly goldfish, had been removed from the pond before it was drained for the cleaning.

He noted that the "overpopulation" of fish was one reason that the Oklahoma Department of Fisheries deemed it was necessary to clean out the pond.

Lowden also discussed the murkiness of the pond due to a lot of sediment build-up.  However, he said there are plans to place rocks around the edge of the pond to help with the sediment issue, so that hopefully the pond will stay clearer for longer.

Lowden also said the public "will see a big difference in the light and fountain when we're finished."

He noted that calcification had blocked some of the spouts on the fountain, so once it is cleaned, the spray should be better.  The lights will also be raised so that they will shine a little brighter on the fountain, he said.


Also under new business, several board members broached questions about certain improvements they would like to see.

Pat McGuire, with Kid's Inc., asked about whether new lights will be installed at the Kid's Inc. football field when lights are installed for the new softball field.  He was concerned about the current pole lights becoming "an eyesore" when seen next to the new lights at the softball fields.

McGuire was also concerned about whether lights would be installed when the city gets around to constructing the new soccer fields at Crystal Beach.

He said he asked "because we play all our soccer games at night and in the spring we need 2 large fields, one medium field and a small field with lights."

Riffel said he would look into both of those matters.

He also said the city could review the possibility of building public restrooms at Centennial Park.

Board member Polly Fox asked about the issue stating that since she has a business near the park, she often gets people coming in needing to use a restroom while they are out enjoying the park.  

Debbie Harrington, principal of Horace Mann, asked if the city could help with the costs of installing some type of new cushioning system under the playground at Horace Mann Elementary.

She said that the school looked into installing rubber matting like what is used at Crystal Beach, but discovered "it would cost the same as a small house."

"So I don't know if it's something the city would help with since it is used by all people," Harrington said.

The principal said the playground often gets used by the public outside of school hours, especially since a portion of it is handicap accessible.

Board member Ronnie Brittain asked about the possibility of doing away with the permit fee that the city charges for trout fishing after Lowden announced that Crystal Beach Lake will be restocked with trout on Nov. 24.  

Brittain said he feels that more people would take advantage of trout fishing opportunities at the park in the winter if there wasn't a permit fee.

"I know I've never trout fished out there because of the $12 fee and I maybe can get to go fishing only one weekend in the winter," he said.

Riffel admitted that the money collected through the permit fees doesn't cover the expense of stocking the lake with fish.

"The fees don't bring in much," he said.

"That's because people are not buying the permits, they just choose not to fish," Brittain said.

Since the goal of the improvements at Crystal Beach is to increase use of the park, Brittain said he would encourage doing away with the fee if possible.

"If we couldn't charge, I think maybe we'd get more use out there," he said.

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