Dream Team of Arcadia Lake

FT_arcadia lake dream team_june21

Arcadia Lake is relatively young, having been constructed just 34 years ago, extending the Deep Fork River and supplying water to Edmond. During Covid, many local citizens rediscovered Arcadia Lake for its recreational activities, but feedback has made it clear that Arcadia needs a facelift. 

“When I was campaigning for City Council two years ago,” said City Councilman Josh Moore, “I was hearing a common theme that people would like to see the lake updated to the ‘Edmond Standard.’ There’s a lot of opportunity we can tap into at Arcadia.” One exciting opportunity is the upcoming public City Council Workshop. The workshop, which begins at 3:30 p.m. on Monday, July 12th, will inform citizens on the task force’s progress. 

Moore, whose family often bikes and fishes at Arcadia, was instrumental in spearheading a series of facilitated ‘dreaming sessions’ to address the desires of citizens. “And 99% of this process is including stakeholders for every activity that exists at Arcadia and bringing them all together into the same discussion room,” Moore said.  

Each major recreation at the park is represented, including camping, horseback riding, boating, biking, hunting, fishing and even bird watching. Additionally, city leaders, park employees, wildlife representatives, lodging experts, members of the UCO Boathouse, plus any interested members of the public, are involved in the process. They call themselves the Dream Team.

“Our goal is to envision the future of Arcadia from all perspectives,” said Jennifer Seaton, director of Visit Edmond. “It’s been inspirational to see the lake from each group’s point of view. Ultimately, they all want whatever is best for Edmond. Even if they are passionate about their own piece, they’ve still come to the table in the spirit of collaboration.”

On May 7, the Dream Team’s third meeting was held at the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife building at Arcadia. Individuals were asked to report which of their brainstorm ideas best resonated with colleagues and friends. Across the board, there is consensus that camping and RV sites need upgrading. Other broad discussion points covered topics such as creating child-friendly fishing areas, how to best accommodate equestrian campers, and whether cabins or a lodge might draw audiences. Priority projects began to emerge.

“I think this task force has been pleased by how many of their ideas are already being done at the lake. We obviously need to promote those activities more effectively,” said Craig Dishman, director of Edmond Parks and Recreation. “We are fortunate that Edmond can spend money for quality-of-life projects, such as the recent Edmond Center Court Tennis facility, Mitch Park and the splash pad.”

“Of course, we want to improve everything at Arcadia, but we have to move forward with projects in the most appropriate order,” Moore said. “My goal as council member is to finish this visioning process, and then propose a master planning phase to the City Council.”

At each Dream Team meeting, attendees find themselves trying to compare aspects of Arcadia Lake to similar sites—only to find that Arcadia’s location in relation to a large city and its many recreational opportunities are unlike any other lake in Oklahoma.

“Where else can you go literally two minutes outside of town to see bald eagles, go horseback riding, go mountain biking or go camping?” Moore asked. “That really justifies why we should invest in Arcadia Lake further, to make it better for local recreation and attract more visitors. In a way, we have our own, unique, urban state park.”

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