I am a firm believer in the importance of green spaces in urban areas and if you have heard me speak to any of the local civic groups or city council, then you have likely heard this mentioned. For years our beautiful, historic churches have maintained the only parkscape in the downtown area. The care they have instilled in their landscaping has offered a beautiful backdrop to area shopping and events for decades.
With the coming Arts & Entertainment District, we will see a great amount of added green spaces in our downtown. One of these newly laid spaces is already complete. The Oil Heritage Park was designed by Wilson Martin of GroundView Design in Somerville, MA., as part of the master plan created by Paul Westlake, of Westlake Reed Leskosky.
Originally a parking lot, monuments have been added to the site over the past decade to highlight the history of the discovery of oil in the region. Most recently bronze statues have been added of some of South Arkansas most famous oil men. Narratives accompanied the monuments and statues to tell this story and identify the equipment that was used in the field, all of the equipment in the park were once used in oil discovery.
The bronzes and equipment served as a centerpiece for the redesigned park, with minor changes in the layout to fit in walking paths and additionally greenery. Other additions include park benches, brick sidewalks, a variety of seasonal blooming plants and several two ton Oak trees. The park was constructed by a local company Diversified Services, under the watchful eye of their owner Blake Williamson.
Oil Heritage Park in Downtown El Dorado, AR.
Since the completion of the park, it has quickly become a fixture of daily life in downtown El Dorado. Evenings you find couples and families hanging out on the benches before and after dinner enjoying the newly found sanctuary. It’s been a feature in several recent commercials and advertisements for El Dorado, as well as used as a backdrop in a recent film shoot. I also had the opportunity to attend the Hill Street History event hosted by Janice Bush, President of the local chapter of the NAACP.
I am very excited to see this first advancement in the quality of place in downtown El Dorado, and would like to thank all those involved in helping our team create a welcoming atmosphere for all to enjoy. Most especially, we should thank the El Dorado Economic Development Board, Mayor Frank Hash and our city council members for supporting these efforts with the he city’s 1 cent economic tax funds.