" The American" plans move forward

Friday, January 20th 2006, 2:19 pm
By: News On 6

A statue that was to be completed in time for Oklahoma's centennial has been pushed back by at least a couple of years, but the people behind "The American" statue say the project is still alive.

News on 6 reporter Emory Bryan says it is by any measure a remarkable idea - to build a bronze statue in Tulsa that would be taller than the Statue of Liberty. It's planned for Tulsa County's highest point - Holmes Peak.

Chief operating officer for The American, Chuck Garrison: “It's going to happen, if it weren't we wouldn't be here right now." Chuck Garrison is a retired Army officer running the project. It’s his job to get investors for the $30-million job, and he says he has some, while others are waiting on more information. “We do have outside investors, we do have some local investors and what this economic impact study is about, is to go out and gain additional investors we need to start on this project."

Even though money for the project seems to be a hold up and construction has been repeatedly delayed, the organizers behind the project say it's still on and it's going to happen - that one of the nations largest monuments will go up. When the plans for the statue were announced two years ago, there was talk of a groundbreaking within months.

After the site was selected, the sculptor who created the statue said the goal was to have it built by 2007. But that date has slipped while investors are being courted. The project managers won't say how much investors have pledged, but they do have a timeline. "We are planning on having the project completed by the last quarter by 2009 and begin operations by 2010." And that means open by 2010, which would be an aggressive schedule for building even if the investors turned up today.

Now separately, the marketing person for the statue says there are positive signs for tourism to the statue. They say one survey in Texas indicated one third of the people in Dallas would be willing to make a special trip to Tulsa to see it, if it's built.