Tulsa Neighbors Take Concerns Over 'The Gathering Place' Construction To City Board

Tuesday, September 23rd 2014, 1:23 pm
By: Emory Bryan

Work is in full swing at Tulsa's Gathering Place, the massive new park being built along Riverside Drive.

The offices for the construction project have some of the neighbors a little upset. The controversy was over a construction office that's going to go on a lot right next to houses.

Some of the neighbors complained it was going to be too big and too ugly for the neighborhood, and they made their case to the city Tuesday afternoon.

9/19/2014 Related Story: Neighbors Fear Losing 'Peace And Quiet' During Gathering Place Construction

The 31st and Riverside area pretty busy, but there's a quiet neighborhood right alongside it at 31st and Boston Place, where some homeowners worry construction on the Gathering Place will disrupt the quiet and the view.

"We didn't know it would be backing up to our fence. Our dogs will lose their minds, no question,” said neighbor Debbie Saunders.

For some it would be right over the back fence, so when the plans came out for the big, but temporary, office building they took their complaints to a public hearing at city hall.

Park neighbor, Dan Simpson said, “We'll have a building we may not want to look at, however, it's a temporary building.”

The building will be part of  "The Gathering Place" project. The Kaiser Foundation said the building would be 7,000 square feet and will be used to coordinate work on the project, then torn down when the work is complete.

Board of Adjustment exhibit

The foundation asked for permission to keep the building in place for up to five years. And they're offering to dress it up a little beyond their original plans, so it will blend in better and look more like a house. 

Project Manager Jeff Stava agreed to make changes based on the neighbors input, including covering the building with stone and wood siding instead of just metal.

“I didn't purchase there ever thinking a commercial building would be allowed in a residential neighborhood,” neighbor Casey Robinson said.

Mark Graham said, "My request is to not second guess what the experts say is the best approach to this monumental task.”

A big wooden fence was taken out and more landscaping was added in. With those changes, the Board of Adjustment approved the plans.

Park neighbor, Millie York said, "I feel good. I didn't think I was going to get anything at all."

"We take very seriously the input of people. We've modified the outside of the building and how it's going to interface; we've taken the fencing down and added plantings, we're going to try to make it fit in best we can,” Stava said.

The work on the office will start soon, but the next step is about two weeks of work to fence off and secure the entire site for the heavy construction that's coming.