Thousands Expected For Tulsa's Gathering Place Ground Breaking

Tuesday, September 16th 2014, 7:31 pm
By: Emory Bryan

The groundbreaking for Tulsa's Gathering Place along Riverside Drive is just around the corner and several thousand people are expected to attend the celebration that will give them a unique view of the park now and in the future.

Inside a domed tent there's a 360 degree computer screen, where people can take a virtual tour of the project Saturday. They can see the way it looks now and how it will look when it's done.

For the first and last time until the Gathering Place opens, the Blair property will be wide open for visitors.

9/8/2014 Related Story: Crews Work To Move, Preserve Statues Before Gathering Place Groundbreaking

Inside, Project Manager Jeff Stava has stacks of paper, blueprints which represent only 50 percent of the details. It's the culmination of seven years of planning by the George Kaiser Family Foundation.

"It's kind of exciting to sit here on the threshold of the ground breaking because we're shifting from the planning and designing to the construction, and that's a whole new phase for the project,” Stava said.

The groundbreaking happens at noon Saturday in the middle of the Blair property. A festival runs from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m., where the virtual tour will be just one of 25 attractions on the site for the day.

When it comes time to break ground, the donors will be behind Tulsa's children.

"We've got 18 inch yellow shovels; the kids will have a big sand box in front of where the donors are. Because it's a park, not just about today and the gift that these donors are giving, but 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,” Stava said.

There's a crowd expected for the ceremony, so parking lots will open downtown and free shuttle buses will run continuously between the park and the parking.

The lots are at the churches and TCC campus downtown, and that's going to be the only available public parking.

Gathering Place Parking

The 46 donors and dignitaries who will break ground will each get one of the commemorative shovels.

"We wanted to make this truly special for the donors. We're appreciative of what they've done to make this a reality,” said Stava.

After the weekend more fences go up and heavy dirt work begins.

Stava said, "The dirt work is all designed and ready to go, so that's what's going to be starting in October and November."

The park right now is estimated to cost $350 million dollars, all from private donors.