Design of proposed park near Arkansas River unveiled
BY P.J. LASSEK World Staff Writer
Thursday, May 24, 2012
5/24/12 at 7:03 AM
Tulsans got a first glance Wednesday at what a new proposed park encompassing nearly 60 acres of land near the Arkansas River could look like.
Wooded areas, cascading lawns, a land bridge over Riverside Drive, an enhanced Crow Creek, meandering trails, a lodge, gardens, playgrounds, splash park, wetlands, cafes and a large pond are among the features.
"It looks like our own Central Park. I like it," Karla Smith said during a public meeting Wednesday where a conceptual design was unveiled in a 3-D model.
The George Kaiser Family Foundation is prepared to spend between $100 million and $150 million to transform land it owns east of Riverside Drive, including a small tract of city property, into a unique gathering place that ties into River Parks.
The foundation owns the 33.6 acres of the Blair Mansion property at 26th Place and the 21.5-acre tract that includes the Crow Creek Apartments, also known as the Sundance and Legacy Apartments, south of 31st Street. The two tracts are connected by a 4.2-acre piece owned by the city.
About 100 people attended Wednesday's meeting, the first of two to be held this week to give Tulsans a visual idea of what the park might be and to gather further input for the final design.
The second meeting will be held 6 p.m. Thursday in the Center for Creativity at Tulsa Community College downtown campus.
"Collectively, a community is all the stages each of us are in at one time of our life," said New York architect Michael Van Valkenburgh, hired to design the project.
"We have to make sure that all of us together will find something in the park we would want to do."
The conceptual design was created from the public input gathering on the project during several public meetings in March. The final design will incorporate input collected this week.
Van Valkenburgh discussed many aspects of the project, including access to the park.
"Tulsans love their cars," he said.
An idea is to make a single signal intersection at the northern end of the Blair property and create a road that loops into the property for parking, he said.
There also would be other pedestrian entries into the entire stretch of the park to lessen the load of a single entry, he said.
The plan also showed a lodge area next to a large pond on the Blair site and a cafe along an improved Crow Creek area that stretches toward River Parks.
To address safety issues, unique lighting would be used in a "moonlighting" approach to prevent "super bright" light that neighbors were concerned about, Van Valkenburgh said.
"We want to create a diversity of landscape types and emphasize the natural," he said. "We want to provide a variety of activities both passive and active with an emphasis on active.
"We want to make strategic connections within and to the park from the edges both for people walking and driving. We want places to buy food and drink, and we want to be very attentive to how the new park is going to impact the neighborhood from a public safety aspect, privacy, lighting and access."
Thursday: Input meeting 6 p.m. Center for Creativity at Tulsa Community College downtown
September: Full project plan unveiled
October 2012 to October 2013: Work on design, technical issues and construction documents
November 2013 to January 2014: Bidding process for construction
Early 2014: Break ground
Construction: Between two and four years
Source: George Kaiser Family Foundation
Original Print Headline: Tulsans get first look at new park
P.J. Lassek 918-581-8382
City Councilor Byron Steele (second from left) and David Spencer (pointing) discuss a proposed park near the Arkansas River during a public meeting at Tulsa Community College's downtown campus on Wednesday. MATT BARNARD / Tulsa World
A model includes a pond and other landscape features for the proposed park. MATT BARNARD / Tulsa World