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Many Tulsa Residents Wowed By Plans For New Park On Riverside Drive

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One of the largest and most expensive privately-funded parks in the nation is already getting Tulsans to gather around it, and it's only in the design phase. One of the largest and most expensive privately-funded parks in the nation is already getting Tulsans to gather around it, and it's only in the design phase.
"On the amazing meter, this scores a pretty high ka-ching," said landscape architect Michael Van Valkenburgh. "On the amazing meter, this scores a pretty high ka-ching," said landscape architect Michael Van Valkenburgh.
"It's exciting, it's really exciting. There are all kinds of ideas and they have baked in the entire community's input," said Tulsa resident Billie Lee. "It's exciting, it's really exciting. There are all kinds of ideas and they have baked in the entire community's input," said Tulsa resident Billie Lee.
TULSA, Oklahoma -

The George Kaiser Family Foundation revealed a 3D model and artist renderings for a waterfront park along Riverside Drive Tuesday. It's called A Gathering Place For Tulsa.

The original plans for the park had the cost at between $100 million and $150 million. Now, phase one alone is $200 million--that's more than the BOK Center.

One of the largest and most expensive privately-funded parks in the nation is already getting Tulsans to gather around it, and it's only in the design phase.

"It's exciting, it's really exciting. There are all kinds of ideas and they have baked in the entire community's input," said Tulsa resident Billie Lee.

6/18/2013 Related Story: Model Of 'A Gathering Place For Tulsa' Unveiled To The Public

Years of planning, 1,400 public comments, and a $200 million from the George Kaiser Family Foundation have brought us to this point--one giant gift to the city.

"On the amazing meter, this scores a pretty high ka-ching," said landscape architect Michael Van Valkenburgh.

Van Valkenburgh said the 55-acre park has a little something for everyone.

A football-field sized land bridge will cross Riverside Drive, so traffic will drive beneath the park. A Gathering Place will also have a lake with a boat house, where you can rent kayaks, playgrounds, a skate park, tree-covered trails and lots of open, green space.

The idea is for the park to become part of Tulsa's identity.

"They give us breathing room, they give us time to relax, they give us time to think, they give us time to play, to be with our families and our friends. It's kind of on all of those levels," Van Valkenburgh said.

The foundation will also maintain the park once it's built.

Construction is set to start next summer with phase one, which takes three years.

"This is going to be incredible, it's like something that would happen in a huge city," said Tulsan Debbie Barrick.

Barrick lives where phase two of the park will be located. She believes it will make property values go up, and she's eager to find out more details on what her new surroundings will look like.

"I'd like to know a little bit more about that, but I'm sure it will be wonderful, because the other part is wonderful," Barrick said.

The City of Tulsa will only have to pay for roadwork that's needed anyway. And more parking spaces have been incorporated into the design. They'll be sprinkled throughout the 55 acres, so there's not a giant, concrete parking lot

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