Work begins today on Manuel Perez Park
Mayor David Holt and other civic leaders will break ground on new improvements at Manuel Perez Park in a 10 a.m. ceremony being held Dec. 2. OKC Parks is hosting the groundbreaking, and the public is invited to attend.
“We’re happy to be able to properly honor Congressional Medal of Honor recipient Manuel Perez with this new park and memorial,” said OKC Parks Director Doug Kupper.
The park improvements at 21 SE 17th St. are being funded with 2007 general obligation bonds.
The park’s namesake, Manuel Perez, was born in south Oklahoma City and served his nation during World War II. He was awarded the Medal of Honor for his actions on Feb. 28, 1945 when he led attacks that neutralized 11 Japanese dug-in guard posts. He was killed in action a few weeks after his heroic work and his family received his decoration posthumously.
The park will add activities along the river, sitting on the east side of Shields Boulevard along the Oklahoma River, across Shields from the Mat Hoffman Skate Park.
During the Riverfront Design Commission meeting on Nov. 7, associate planner Laura Griggs called the project exciting. Brandon Boydstun with OKC Parks presented the planned updates, which include a new memorial plaza wall dedicated to all the Medal of Honor recipients from Oklahoma. There will also be a new plaque commemorating Manuel Perez.
“As a department, we went through a lot of work and coordination with the neighborhood and the Friends of Manuel Perez group,” Boydstun said. “There’s been a lot of neighborhood involvement all the way through the process.”
In addition to the memorial plaza, the park’s new 240-seat pavilion will feature Spanish-style architecture. Other improvements include a new playground and new covered benches along the existing trail in the park. On the west side, there will be two new futsal courts and a new basketball court, plus enhancements to the skate park. There will also be a new parking lot.
During the meeting, a neighbor who lives near SE 17th Street had a question for the commission about the creek near the park, but he ended his time at the lectern by saying, “This park is an awesome park. We’ve been waiting for it for a long time.”