George Kaiser Foundation Makes Historic $350M Donation To River Parks
Thursday, August 14th 2014, 12:59 PM CDT
Under the agreement, GKFF will give ownership of the park to River Parks Authority and will ensure ongoing operation, maintenance and programming for the life of the park, which is expected to open in late 2017.
The $350 million gift, combining land, design, construction costs and operating, security, maintenance and programming costs for the lifetime of the park – the total commitment is being funded by GKFF and numerous corporate and community philanthropists.
A Gathering Place for Tulsa is a planned park designed by world-renowned landscape architect Michael Van Valkenburgh, who also designed the Brooklyn Bridge Park and the George Bush Presidential Library and Museum, among other notable projects. Upon completion, the design transforms nearly 100 acres of waterfront along the Arkansas River into a vibrant and recreational gathering place for the community.
According to a 2012 Forbes article, the previous largest gift to a public park was $100 million to the Central Park Conservancy in New York.
“This generosity is likely the largest public park gift ever made,” said Matt Meyer, executive director of Tulsa River Parks Authority. “The immense generosity of GKFF and community donors brings a unique opportunity to partner with the foundation to manage, maintain and improve the park for many years to come. City and County citizens will experience the benefits of our transformed riverfront for generations.”
As part of Thursday's announcement, GKFF and partnering donors are giving the park to the Tulsa River Parks Authority which has agreed to enter into a 100-year, self-perpetuating agreement with a dedicated GKFF entity to manage the long-term operations, maintenance, security and programming of the park. The agreement allows for the public trust to own the park while guaranteeing citizens the park will be properly managed, maintained and improved upon by a privately funded entity for years to come.
“The transformation over the next three years of Tulsa's riverfront into a world-class gathering place for all of our citizens will provide a tremendous boost to the economic and cultural health of Tulsa,” Tulsa Mayor Dewey Bartlett said.
A Gathering Place will provide an expansion of recreational and education opportunities associated with the River Parks system in Tulsa. The planned park will feature engaging aspects including a 5-acre playground for children of all ages, lodge for community gathering and activities, interactive water play areas, a boathouse for social and educational space, large green spaces for recreation and gathering, and two massive land bridges that will seamlessly unify the park with the broader River Parks system. The unique park plans evolved from 1,400 ideas submitted from Tulsa citizens in six community meetings over the course of three years.
The official groundbreaking celebration for the park is set for Sept. 20 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. with a community-wide celebratory event.
to learn more, view designs, renderings and follow the latest news and updates about the project.