North Oaks Revitalization
North Oaks Neighborhood
The North Oaks Neighborhood was platted in 1979. Designed as an attached unit private condominium project, the North Oaks Planned Unit Development contained 48 structures with 175 single family attached units. The North Oaks PUD allowed several variances such as lesser right-of-way widths, inverted crown streets with no storm sewer intakes and limited curb and gutter use, and minimal depth for parking spaces. In addition, the North Oaks PUD allowed decreased side yard setbacks and due to private fencing restricted access to rear yards. Although the approved design allowed a development with higher density, no sidewalks or pedestrian routes were planned or provided in North Oaks.
A neighborhood study was conducted in 2009 because of the significant decline in property values and maintenance. Some of the issues that were discovered are listed below:
- Declining property values
- Inadequate parking
- Dilapidation and deterioration of structures / some boarded up
- Improper subdivision design / obsolete platting
- Inadequate parcel size
- Faulty lot layout
- Unsanitary conditions related to trash and high grass
- High percentage of absentee owners / high percentage of rental units
- Apathy toward litter and property maintenance
- Lack of interest in a neighborhood association
- Lack of play areas
- Suspected drug dealers in the area
- Perception of North Oaks as unsafe at night
Study recommendations included establishing a neighborhood association and implementing programs that would help restore safety and security to the neighborhood and improve neighborhood cohesiveness. Create City policies that would foster positive relationships between residents and City officials. Identify funding for infrastructure improvements. Improve interior lighting. Design and install neighborhood signage. Reduce access points into the neighborhood. Add parking and open space interior to the neighborhood. The main goals of the study are listed below:
- Improve physical conditions of the neighborhood
- Improve safety in the area
- Improve desirability for owner occupied living units
- Instill confidence in police and other City employees
As a result of the study, a conceptual design was also prepared for the neighborhood.
The general tone of the study was somewhat negative however; there were some things that the residents liked about their neighborhood. North Oaks is across from a major recreation area and close to stores. It is centrally located within the boundaries of a high performing school district. Police, fire, library and the hospital are nearby. It provides affordable housing and is on a bus route.
Originally, North Oaks was designed with two common areas offering swimming pools and play areas. The properties were not properly maintained by the North Oaks Homeowners Association and the lots were eventually sold. The properties are now private; the pools have been filled and grassed over. In addition, restrictive plat covenants were never enforced and the homeowners association was eventually disbanded.
Public input from the neighborhood study revealed that the residents desired more open space. There were no play areas for children and they played in the street. There is a large regional park nearby however it was dangerous to cross Reno. The City acquired property in the NE corner of the neighborhood. An open area with detention was created and a playground was installed. Two streets have been closed and turned into raingardens with open space. A checker table was installed in the middle of one cul de sac and a picnic table was installed in another one. A third cul de sac is in the process of being built.
Safer Foot Traffic
Typically people cross the street where it is most convenient, not where is it most safe. This was certainly the case at North Oaks. Groups of children would run across Reno to go to the swimming pool or the basketball courts or the big playground. This was a frequent enough occurrence that it warranted adding a HAWK signal for pedestrian crossing on Reno.
80% Decrease in Neighborhood Crime Rates
According to Midwest City Police Department statistics crime dropped dramatically over a period of 8 years as the improvements in the neighborhood began to take place. As shown in the chart below, the categories measured range from burglary, stolen vehicles, and vandalism to assaults and shootings. The total numbers of crimes started at 41 in 2008. They jump to 63 in 2009 and then gradually taper off to 8 in 2015, which is a significant reduction. Action steps that helped reduce crime were arranging housing for police officer in the neighborhood and blocking three of the through streets to reduce traffic and potential block criminals from easily fleeing a crime scene. That was a significant financial commitment from the City that appears to have paid off.
|Years||Assaults||Auto Burglary||Robbery||Larceny||Residential Burglary||Shootings Murders||Stolen Vehicles||Vandalism||Total|
2011 ASLA Award Regional Design Merit Award
C.H. Guernsey won the 2011 ASLA Award Regional Design Merit Award in recognition of professional outstanding achievement from the American Society of Landscape Architects for North Oaks Neighborhood Improvements. The firm utilized CPTED techniques. CPTED stands for crime prevention through environmental design. Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design (CPTED) is defined as a multi-disciplinary approach to deterring criminal behavior through environmental design. CPTED strategies rely upon the ability to influence offender decisions that precede criminal acts by affecting the built, social and administrative environment.