While visiting the city’s newest attraction, be aware of how the Gathering Place negatively impacts its bordering neighborhoods.
Tulsa’s newest attraction the Gathering Place officially opened to the public on Sept. 9. This 100-acre park, which cost over $400 million to build, has attracted many Oklahomans since its grand opening. I have visited a couple of times, and I can say with confidence that it is a great space for events for the Tulsa community, as well as a unique place to attract visitors to Tulsa. However, with Tulsans raving about the park, it is easy to forget about the plight of the people who live nearby.
Neighbors of the Gathering Place live in the historic Maple Ridge neighborhood. I am sure when the residents bought these homes, they did not think they were signing up for years of noisy construction, followed by hundreds of people showing up in their backyard.
Specifically, I am talking about the people whose backyards are in the Gathering Place. Now, I am sure some of you are thinking, “But the park raises the property values of those homes,” or “Imagine having the Gathering Place in your backyard, that would be so cool!”
I agree those points have some merit, but I would ask you to put yourself in their shoes. If you lived near the Gathering Place, how would you like the significant increase in traffic? These residents cannot drive down their street or get in their driveway because of visitors parking their cars on their street instead of in designated parking lots.
There is also the issue of noise. How would you like to be doing homework or going to sleep with the sounds of a concert and hundreds of people enjoying said concert just a few feet away from your bedroom?
These issues are things those neighbors have to deal with every day: noise, privacy and traffic. If I were one of those homeowners, I would definitely consider moving.
It is true the city of Tulsa and the leadership of the park have been proactive in trying to make this transition as easy as possible for these residents. The city is putting up No Parking signs on a side of the street in the neighborhood. Shuttles and outside parking lots have also been designated to deal with the large influx of people.
The Gathering Place also closes at 10 p.m. as a courtesy to minimize noise for neighbors. The Tulsa World reported that the residents immediately bordering the park have the director of the park’s cell phone number. Clearly, there is cooperation between the park and the homeowners, but there are some things they cannot minimize. Not all of these efforts will stem the tide of people who are increasingly using the neighborhood without thinking of the effects on the people who actually live there.
The Gathering Place is a great opportunity for Tulsans. I encourage you all to visit. However, when you go, remember the neighbors. Try to be courteous and sympathize with the difficulties of having a tourist attraction in your backyard.