Expansion on the Horizon for River Parks

Contributing Writer

UNVEILED: Tulsa residents gather around the model depicting A Gathering Place for Tulsa. About 300 people attended the two-day reveal and response meetings held in May. Final plans will be released in the fall.

BETH TURNER for GTR Newspapers

The George Kaiser Family Foundation () continues to build community through the Tulsa landscape by donating up to $150 million towards expanding River Parks along Riverside Drive.

After seeing the public embrace recent upgrades to River Parks, decided to take things to the next level. With the purchase of an additional 55 acres, wants to turn River Parks into a public oasis.

awarded the project to the architect firm after an extensive bidding process. Led by its namesake Michael VanValkenburg, MVVA’s mission statement reads that the firm focuses on environmentally sustainable and experientially rich outdoor spaces. They hold offices in New York City, Boston and Cambridge, Mass.
“We were excited to win the

bid for this project,” says VanValkenburg. “I immediately saw a vision for it. Now, after some of the amazing landscapes I’ve seen around here at places like Oxley, Keystone and Chandler Park, I just know that this is going to turn out beautifully.”
took input from Tulsans compiled in March during several public meetings, and incorporated much of the advice into plans released in May at another public forum held at the Center for Creativity. Again, more than 300 people attended and added new insights for to consider. Final plans will be unveiled this fall.

The Plan
The George Kaiser Family Foundation purchased 55 acres of private land in order to expand the park. This includes Crow Creek Apartments, known as Sundance and Legacy Apartments south of 31st Street along Riverside Drive.

The purchase also includes the Blair property at 26th Place. The white house located on the property will be moved to a new location. The plans do not call for altering Riverside Drive.

New water features will be added throughout River Parks, including around the Crow Creek area. “When we started studying water flows in a part of the park, we discovered this is a natural overflow for Crow Creek,” says VanValkenburg. “We want to follow the landscape’s natural inclination and allow this area to be a water feature the public can enjoy.”

considered parking as well. Plans show an incorporation of several small parking areas in varying locations instead of a centrally located, large parking lot. “Our studies show that River Parks needs about five to six parking spaces per acre,” says VanValkenburg. “We looked to the future and designed a seven car per acre range. But we did so in a way that is unobtrusive. No wide stretches of concrete but smaller parking in many different areas. The goal is an easy-in, easy-out system, that allows you to park near where you play.”

Many marvel at the extent gives back to its community. To this the foundation releases statements about others, with little reference to self: “River Parks is a wonderful asset to Tulsa and we believe the community will enjoy having a gathering space that connects to River Parks and the river. All great communities have great central gathering spaces, and Tulsa is a great city.”
For more details and depictions about the plans, go to www.aGatheringPlaceforTulsa.com.

Updated 06-25-2012

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