Downtown pocket meadow to reduce; Third party maintenance planned for area | News

ENID, Oklahoma— The pocket grassland area of ​​downtown Enid surrounding Under Her Wing was the Universe will be reduced by two-thirds, in a compromise approved Wednesday between the town of Enid and local artist Romy Owens.

Members of Enid’s Public Arts Commission decided that the grasses of the entire north side of Owens’ Under Her Wing would be left alone to grow and develop like the prairie.

The entire south side of Under Her Wing will be regularly mowed by city staff, while other trees will be planted to provide shade for visitors.

Under Her Wing was completed in 2020 as Owens began developing the prairie. The total 2 1/2 acres, on a floodplain along Park between Grand and Independence, had also become the site of Christmas events known as The One, which are set to return to Enid this year.

On Wednesday, PACE member Ron Janzen moved to adopt the compromise.

“I like the scheme, I like the idea, I think we have a manageable area,” Janzen said, pointing to a rendering of the area displayed on a projection screen. “And I don’t care about the upkeep of the grassland, because the grassland is supposed to be left alone to grow like a grassland.”

Council members approved the plan 5 to 1, with Carolyn Poplin the only “no” vote. Member Steven Rutledge abstained.

“We’re reducing problems by two-thirds,” Rutledge said. “Will this be solved because the area is smaller and the manpower we generated will be able to handle it?”

This rendering created by Michael Shuck, Vice Chairman of Enid’s Public Arts Commission, shows the newly approved plan altering the area surrounding Under Her Wing was the Universe, which is located on Park between Grand and Independence in Enid. The number of maples will be modified. (Render provided)

PACE also intends to bring in a third party to maintain the reduced grassland as it transforms into a self-sustaining mini-ecosystem over the next few years.

No offer to maintain the meadow was approved Wednesday because city staff had only received one, which the potential seller had broken down by cost using a six-month schedule Owens had provided to PACE earlier this year.

OSA Services had quoted the city for a total of $4,425 to maintain all of the prairie on both sides of Under Her Wing, including the removal of non-beneficial plants from June through October.

PACE city staff liaison Angela Rasmuson said the quote would be changed to a maximum amount for the small meadow so they could re-quote the project.

Since last fall, complaints about the prairie have obsessed the city about the area’s seemingly neglected appearance and size after a full year of growth.

PACE, which originally funded a portion of Under Her Wing’s costs and continues to cover maintenance expenses, had been meeting since August to address the issue of maintaining the surrounding prairie, reviewing several options and meeting with local organizations such as than Master Gardeners.

Enid Town Commissioner Whitney Roberts, representing the PACE committee, said she and the rest of the elected members of the committee would likely back the compromise rather than leave it entirely alone.

“If it’s not resolved, the city will deal with it without coming here,” Roberts said before the vote, “because this has been going on for so long and we still haven’t found a solution. Every month we let’s talk about it.

Owens and other volunteers, including PACE President Christy Northcutt, had planted 100 native grasses in the spring of 2020 that were expected to become self-sufficient within three years.

City staff had prematurely mowed the entire prairie in late October, several weeks before The One series of events.

“The benefits I see are that the artist and PACE have worked together on a compromise, the prairie continues to grow and establish itself in its confined area, trees are added to the landscape of the city…and we have established a mowed lawn for community events,” Northcutt said Wednesday.

Ten more redbud trees will be added on the south side and will connect the existing redbuds that are growing right now. A grove of 20 maple trees would also be planted on the south and west side of the lawn, and staff from the city’s Parks and Recreation Department would water them.

Several PACE members said on Wednesday they think 20 trees might be too many for the space, even if they don’t all survive, so city staff intend to revise the number later. with potential sellers.

Two offers have been received by Enid Floral and Plants-A-Plenty, both suggesting planting October Glory and Autumn Blaze maples.

The poles still standing on the grassland area will be painted a “starting green” color, board members voted unanimously. Six-dozen-foot-tall upright truss supports had supported The One’s 140-foot-tall Christ Tree with suspension cables.

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