A group wants to buy some land in downtown Tulsa and make it a park

Monday, February 11th 2002, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

Someone wants to part the waters of downtown's concrete ocean. The Trust for Public Land intends to build a public park on a city block between 8th and 9th streets - between Cincinnati and Detroit downtown.

News on Six reporter Emory Bryan says a private group plans to buy an old car dealership - clear the land, build a park, then give it to the city. Why would anyone do that? That's what we wanted to know. Tulsa's downtown is dominated by a cluster of tall buildings, surrounded by parking lots and highways.

A private group - the Trust for Public Land - imagines one of these blocks transformed from asphalt to green space - for the people who live and work downtown. Robert Gregory, Trust for Public Land: "We think that great cities are known by their great downtown parks, within the inner dispersal loop, no parks exist and we hope to change that." This is the vision for one block - two acres of heavily landscaped parkland - with 100 trees, room for children to play, enough open space for community events, enough light to convey a feeling of safety at night.

Keith Franklin created the plans for the park. "I think it's every urban landscapers dream to come into an urban environment like this and design a park that really is green and provides a real change of pace and contrast to what happens in the downtown.” It’s not that downtown doesn't already have a park - it does. There is the Plaza of the Americas. But folks who live around here think this park isn't very easy on the eyes. It has a little bit of grass - and a dirt strip that is supposed to be grass, but it's mainly cement. Downtown has plenty of that. Jerome Johnson, “I'd love to just have a place to sit down and rest.”

And tourists often say Tulsa's downtown needs something more. A park might help - but it would primarily serve those who spend their days downtown. Robert Gregory, Trust for Public Land: "and we also think children are going to be a primary group of users of the downtown park. There are 3 daycares downtown, none of them have open space or grass to speak of, so we hope they'll come here and enjoy the park."

The Trust for Public land is hoping to gather $2.5 million dollars to buy this land and build the park - by April 15th. If they meet their deadline - they'll buy the property, build the park and give it to the city when they're done.