George Kaiser Family Foundation Pledges to Beautify Tulsa

AMERICA’s MOST BEAUTIFUL: Mayor Kathy Taylor and George Kaiser Family Foundation (GKFF) Chairman and Tulsa Beautification Foundation (TBF) President Phil Lakin announced a $5 million pledge from GKFF to help beautify Tulsa-area gateways, highways and thoroughfares. The first TBF project completed was beautifying Tulsa International Airport by painting the Virgin Street bridge, replacing crumbling sidewalks and medians under the bridge, new irrigation systems and extensive landscaping.

MIRANDA ENZOR for GTR Newspapers

George Kaiser Family Foundation recently announced a gift of $1 million to further beautify select Tulsa-area gateways, highways and core city thoroughfares. An additional $4 million is pledged and will be given as initial projects are successfully completed.
The investment is being made through a newly formed charitable organization, Tulsa Beautification Foundation, which is organized solely to support beautification and civic enhancement projects in the Tulsa region.

“In order for Tulsa Beautification Foundation to be successful, the public sector must fulfill its role in building and maintaining the infrastructure, while TBF invests to make that infrastructure more beautiful, sustainable, and aesthetically pleasing,” says Phil Lakin, Jr., chairman of the board for the Kaiser Foundation and president of TBF.

Tulsa International Airport as well as streets and medians immediately surrounding the airport are the focal points for the TBF’s first beautification project.

“The airport was selected because it serves as the point of first and last impressions for many who come to Tulsa for business or pleasure,” says Lakin. Approximately $500,000 has or will soon be invested at and around the airport; $40,000 of this amount was given by the City of Tulsa via labor and services, with the remainder coming from GKFF.

Projects completed at the airport via funding from GKFF includes:

• Painted concrete bridge spanning Virgin Street at airport entrance;
• Replaced crumbing concrete sidewalks and median at bridge with brick pavers;
• Landscaped, with shrubs and trees, all four embankments at the bridge;
• Purchased 84 planter pots with a wide variety of plants to add color to the exterior arrival and departures areas;
• Enhanced landscaping in medians and along walkways at various points at the airport; and,
• Rerouted irrigation systems and hired personnel to provide for necessary watering.

Future projects at the airport include major landscaping of indigenous trees and shrubs along and near the key entry points onto Highway 11 from the airport and exits from Highway 11 to the airport. The project will commence during this fall’s planting season.

“This gift leverages the landscaping and maintenance at the Airport and provides a fresh new face at the front door of our city,” says Mayor Kathy Taylor. “The completion of the landscaping comes at a great time, when thousands of people will be traveling through our airports for the 89th PGA Championship. The Kaiser Foundation is leading the way in beautification projects and providing a great model for private/public partnerships that will make our city better.”

“Our work at the airport is step one in a long list of priorities that Tulsa Beautification Foundation has for enhancing the beauty of our region,” says Lakin. “With the city and charitable sector working on these projects together—and with every individual doing his/her part – I’m confident that Tulsa will become what it once was: America’s Most Beautiful City.”

Other projects being considered by TBF include the following:

• Landscaping enhancements to intersections and overpasses from the airport to downtown Tulsa;
• Beautification projects at major entrances to and exits from downtown Tulsa;
• Three years of funding for sign inspectors and sign enforcers for the City of Tulsa, with a revenue plan by the City to keep the enforcement and inspector positions funded at full strength;
• Aesthetic and landscaping enhancements to the new I-44 corridor; and,
• Beautification Awards Program to encourage citizens to improve private property and/or neighborhoods.

While GKFF is the initial donor to TBF, other donations in any amount are encouraged from the private and corporate sector. TBF is an Oklahoma not-for-profit corporation and is associated with and controlled by Tulsa Community Foundation, the nation’s largest community foundation. Donations should be directed to Tulsa Beautification Foundation Fund, 7030 S. Yale, Suite 600, Tulsa, Okla. 74136. Donors wanting to fund specific beautification projects may call Phil Lakin at (918) 494-8823.

Updated 08-27-2007

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