Officials reveal plans for Oklahoma Centennial Botanical Garden
BY BRAVETTA HASSELL World Scene Writer
Thursday, December 13, 2012
12/13/12 at 5:26 AM
Officials with the Oklahoma Centennial Botanical Garden unveiled their 25-year master plan to the public Wednesday, offering a vision of what the 170-acre site could become.
"Now we have a tangible bit of information that can be shown to the public, shown to the investors, shown to the community to show this is what we're going to be, this is it," said Mayor Dewey Bartlett at the press conference, later adding that the garden would be a place Tulsa "can pour into with pride."
The new renderings show an "ambitious" site featuring a children's garden, an aquatic garden and edible gardens, an amphitheater and even a chapel.
"It's not just gardens," said OCBG Executive Director Todd Lasseigne. "We're going to have programs, we're going to have people coming out here, we're going to have school groups, we're going to have people wanting to get married here, we're going to have private parties, we're going to have public events, festivals, you name it."
It is a vision Lasseigne shared earlier this year, saying that when the garden was complete, it would be an "educational lab."
The garden, which opened in 2008, was initially scheduled to take 10 years to complete. At that time, the entire project was estimated to cost about $40 million.
But when the master plan underwent "a retooling" this spring, the costs went up, said Lori Hutson, the garden's communications director.
The garden is nearly finished with a four-year strategic plan that will detail how much the vision - with each of its gardens and phases - will cost, Lasseigne said.
Developing the master plan took about a year and a half and involved talking to botanical garden experts across the country.
In 1999, the garden's visionaries - Barry Fugatt, D.C. Coston, Pat Woodrum and Dan Zaloudek - proposed the idea of a building a "world-class" botanical garden in northeastern Oklahoma. A few years later, the site, located in the Osage Hills northwest of downtown Tulsa, was donated by Persimmon Ridge LLC principals Gentner Drummond and Tom Atherton. In 2007, a year after receiving a $2.2 million grant from the Oklahoma Centennial Commission, ground was broken at the garden and the next year was made open to the public.
Major projects to date include the construction of the garden's seven-acre Centennial Lake, the connecting of two walking trails and in 2010, the planting of 300 ornamental and shade trees, sod and a walking path installed around the lake.
That year, the garden also received a $1 million grant from the U.S. Economic Development Administration to extend water and sewer utilities to the site, a project that was initially slated to start this past summer but had not yet arrived Wednesday.
"There is work being done," Hutson said. "It is coming to us, it's just taking a little bit longer but it is coming this way."
Having the utilities would allow garden staff to move their offices to the site by sometime next year and also perhaps, open the garden on more than just Saturdays.
Garden planners estimate that at the end of the 25 years, the botanical garden will have approximately 300,000 visitors per year. Currently, the garden is open only on Saturdays from April through October and this year saw about 2,500 visitors.
A capital fund drive next year will help push development, Lasseigne said.
Since the centennial funding, the garden has received no financial support from the state and is looking to the community to help propel its vision. In April, the Tulsa World reported the garden received $4 million in private donations and gifts since opening.
And garden board member Woodrum sees the support continuing.
"I think the whole community is going to be very supportive, they have been so far," Woodrum said. "We've done the nuts and bolts; we've laid the firm foundation. And now is the fun part, to begin to see it blossom and grow and people come out to enjoy it."
Original Print Headline: Plans for botanical garden are unveiled
Bravetta Hassell 918-581-8316
Officials with the Oklahoma Centennial Botanical Garden revealed artists' renderings of their 25-year master plan to the public on Wednesday. Courtesy
Oklahoma Centennial Botanical Garden President and CEO Todd Lasseigne Ph.D (left), Mayor Dewey Bartlett and Chairman of the OCBG Board Gregory Gray chat before a news conference unveiling the garden's 25-year plan. JAMES GIBBARD / Tulsa World