Safety Issues Could Force Tulsa Community Group To New Location

Monday, August 24th 2015, 11:16 pm
By: News On 6

A volunteer group serving more than 200 underprivileged Tulsans each week is in jeopardy.

After two years, Night Light Tulsa may have to find a new location for its weekly gathering near Brady and Maybelle in downtown Tulsa.

Night Light has been gathering weekly for two years under a bridge of the IDL, but Thursday they could have to move, citing safety concerns from the Oklahoma Department of Transportation.

Building relationships in a community where it might be difficult to do so is just one goal of Night Light Tulsa. It also helps feed the hungry and provide essential items all thanks to donations and volunteers.

Night Light co-founder, Sarah Grounds said, "This wasn't the greatest neighborhood to be in back then. Now we watch them, they come, they sit, we know that some of them mow each other’s yard. It's really become a community and they love each other."

Recently, the city asked Night Light to file for a special events permit due to the crowd it grew every week.

Grounds said they obliged and restricted parking, added patrols and took safety procedures.

"Insurance has been good for us, we need those things. Barricades, it makes it more official, it’s helped the organization grow in the right ways, and in the safety ways, and we are fine with those things," she said.

But ODOT Engineer Randle White said, with the special event permits comes review by ODOT, and there are concerns.

The main concerns stem from potential accidents on the IDL and if first responders need to get through the area.

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“If traffic is stopped and they can’t get there going down the highway, so they have to get on right away or they may have to take an alternate route, the street underneath, and then climb up slopes to the highways," White said.

He said, while ODOT fully supports Night Light's mission, it wants the group to find a safer place to gather.

"For us to have to put that money into a building instead of into this neighbor and into the people who need it would break our hearts, honestly," said Grounds.

In a statement, Major Travis Yates with the Tulsa Police Department said, in part, that he is grateful for Night Light and sees nothing dangerous or of concern.

He also called it one of the most impressive displays of care he has ever seen in his 22 years of service.