Groundbreaking Held For World-Class Tulsa Gathering Place Park
Saturday, September 20th 2014, 9:42 AM CDT
Activities began at 10 a.m. with the groundbreaking ceremony held for noon. Everything wrapped by 2 p.m.
At least 2,000 folks took a virtual tour of the Gathering Place shown on a 360-degree computer screen inside a domed tent. It was only one of 25 attractions - including food trucks - that were offered Saturday as the Blair property is wide open for visitors.
Kids dug away with 18-inch yellow shovels in a big sand box in front of the donor section.
"It's about the future generations for Tulsans, and that's why we're including the kids in the ceremony, so it's going to be fun for everybody,” said Project Manager Jeff Stava.
The ground breaking was for the showcase park that is the culmination of seven years of planning by the George Kaiser Family Foundation. The park is currently estimated to cost $350 million, all provided by private donors.
After the weekend, fences go up and the dirt work begins.
It's a project that's been in the works for years, and Saturday donors and state leaders broke ground to begin transforming a vacant plot of land into something local families are looking forward to."I've been very excited about this park, so I've been talking to them about it," Tulsa resident Chrystal Keller said. "There's going to be 4 acres of a children's water park. I mean, that in itself is exciting."
It was a sentiment felt by many as kids zoomed through tape tunnels and played with giant puppets at Saturdays ground breaking.
And those in charge of the project say they hope it's enjoyed by more than just Tulsans.
"We expect about a million people a year to visit this park and enjoy it and experience all of its amenities and so we're very excited to get rolling," executive director of the Kaiser Foundation Ken Levit said.
And crews aren't wasting any time; work begins immediately in order to meet the 2017 deadline.
Another date that could go down in the history books with the $350 million donation.
“I don't know, it's something very significant, and we'll let history judge exactly what it will mean."
"This is going to be such an amazing asset for the city of Tulsa, for our community and actually all of Oklahoma,” resident Chrystal Keller said. “This is a historic event today, I'm so excited to be a part of it. I just can't wait um until we have the officially opening."