Build it, so the promise went, and they will come.
Gathering Place is built.
And the crowds are coming.
More than 300,000 people have visited Gathering Place since its grand opening a month ago, Executive Director Tony Moore said. About 55,000 of those people were there on the opening weekend alone.
That counts as a ringing success in our book. Gathering Place is quickly becoming just what its name implies: The place where Tulsans (and visitors from throughout the area) gather to play, be entertained and just unwind.
A lot of those 300,000 are repeat customers, local people who have made Gathering Place a routine part of their world. The $400 million, 66.5-acre park is so packed with attractions that one visit is not enough. They bike through the trails in the morning, let their children loose on the magnificent playgrounds in the afternoon and listen to a concert on the great lawn in the evening.
Too, we’re hearing from out-of-town friends who want to come to Tulsa specifically to see this magnificent pleasure park everyone is talking about. The buzz is spreading. After folks from Oklahoma City visit, they go home and tell their friends, who put Tulsa on their calendar. While they’re here, we hope they’ll spend some money at a local restaurant, do some shopping or catch a concert at a local venue.
A project of Gathering Place’s scope was bound to come with some issues to be solved. Parking and traffic in neighborhoods around Gathering Place have been a problem at times. The people of the south Maple Ridge and Brookside neighborhoods have generally been patient, but they deserve some relief from the city in the form of parking limitations and enforcement. Residential streets with cars parked end-to-end on both sides are dangerous and unnecessary.
Meanwhile, the gun guys want their sidearms, the dog owners bark when their best friends are excluded, and runners and bikers who want to get in their workouts before the heat of the day are frustrated by the limited hours of the park’s connections to the Midland Valley Trail.
There’s no problem here that reasonable people can’t solve — growing pains for an attraction that has started off big and promises to get bigger.
Moore says he constantly hears the three Ws from park visitors: Well worth the wait.