The Gathering Place and its surrounding areas just keep getting better: The location’s most recent project, which includes a new pedestrian bridge, dam and recreation flume, is well underway.

Brooke Caviness, lead engineer of stormwater design for the City of Tulsa, says updates to the Zink Lake sector have been on the public wishlist for over 20 years. Tulsans expressed a desire for more water in the river, development and recreation along it, and better connections and access to the water. Construction began earlier this year on a new dam to address these concerns.

Built in 1982, the existing dam was seven feet high and had three sections of five foot high gates that could be raised or lowered to control water flow. The new dam is three feet higher and sees a large increase in the amount of gate, as well as the variety of gate heights. Different gates will allow the water level in Zink Lake to be fine-tuned. 

“Any time there’s a big flush of water, we can lay down the 10 foot gates to get the sediment out and maintain the depth of the lake,” says Caviness. “Having the capacity to lay down those gates results in no rise during a flood event.”

Many Tulsans remember the old railroad bridge (turned pedestrian bridge) that ran across the Arkansas River at 29th Street. Built in 1904, the city sought to repair the bridge, but it was so dilapidated that an update would cost as much as a total replacement. The new Gateway Bridge will soon take its place.

Jeff Stava, construction director and trustee at Tulsa’s Gathering Place, says the new bridge will be the very first multi-arched, steel bridge designed and built in the United States. Designers at Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates and Schlaich Bergermann Partner were able to integrate the bridge into the Gathering Place’s specific look and feel. 

“It’ll be a seamless connection, architecturally significant and a bridge that Tulsans will be very proud of,” says Stava.

At 18 feet wide, the new bridge is 10 feet wider than the old bridge, shaped in an arch and featuring an open, panoramic view of the water on both sides. Looking south, pedestrians will be able to take in the action happening below on the new recreational flume. 

Planned to be as long as the river is wide – at about 1,050
feet – the recreational flume will feature seven pools, or drops, with recreational opportunities for kayakers and surfers, as well as those who want to ride down it on a tube. A trail will run alongside the flume on the east bank of the river. Caviness says it’s yet undetermined if the area will be manned with a lifeguard. The Zink Lake area projects are expected to be complete in 2023.


Since 1993, MAPS projects have been putting Oklahoma City on the … well, map. The pay-as-you-go model with a penny sales tax has funded dozens of improvements across the city. MAPS 4, approved in late 2019, begins its planning and design stage later this year.

At the same time, the city is living out the final implementation of MAPS 3, which began in 2012. In 2022, the final two senior health and wellness centers will open, and the vision for lower Scissortail Park will be realized.

Two MAPS 3 senior health centers have already opened: Healthy Living OKC in northwest OKC and the Pete White Health and Wellness Center in south OKC. Both offer a fitness center, pickleball courts, swimming and more. Each center keeps a full programming calendar, with arts and crafts classes, cooking demonstrations, ballroom dancing lessons and other learning opportunities, along with on-site clinics offering medical services, mental health services and a pharmacy.

Residents can expect similar offerings at the two centers under construction at the intersection of N.E. 36th St. and Lincoln Blvd., and at 13660 S. Western Ave., expected to open in the fall of 2022.

Already, the existing health and wellness centers are having an impact. MAPS program manager David Todd says one resident shared that he hadn’t left the house much since his wife passed away. After visiting one of the new senior centers, he immediately made friends and had a reason to get out daily. He said the center undoubtedly added more years to his life.

“The first wellness center is seeing such incredible participation, nearly 10 times what was expected, that we’re adding on to the building,” says Todd.

In 2022, the north facility will see added locker room space, a second gymnasium and an all-purpose recreation room. The south center will receive a locker room expansion.

MAPS 3’s final phase includes additions to Scissortail Park, set to be completed in summer 2022. Construction on the lower park, an additional 30 acres on the south side of Interstate 40, is underway. Todd says the upper and lower parks complement each other and will be connected by the Skydance bridge.

Todd describes the upper park as active, with lots of things to do, and the lower park as passive, with plenty of space to walk and enjoy the landscape. In addition to trails, the lower park features soccer, futsal and basketball courts.

“The lower park connects the boulevard and that area downtown all the way down to the river, so you’ll be able to walk in that park all the way down to the river trails,” says Todd. “It has completely transformed that area of the city.” 

“The lower park connects the boulevard and that area downtown all the way down to the river, so you’ll be able to walk in that park all the way down to the river trails,” says Todd. “It has completely transformed that area of the city.” 

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