City board rejects site plan for Franklin Park
BY KEVIN CANFIELD World Staff Writer
Wednesday, July 25, 2012
7/25/12 at 7:24 AM
The city's plan to add amenities to Franklin Park was squelched Tuesday when the city's Board of Adjustment rejected a modified site plan for the park.
The city is proposing to demolish the dilapidated recreation center and pool at the park at 1818 E. Virgin St. and replace them with other amenities, including a water playground, a multi-purpose sports court and a large pavilion with seating.
But not one person spoke in support of that plan Tuesday, and nearly a dozen people rose to oppose it.
That sealed the deal for BOA Chairman Frazier Henke, who, along with fellow board member Mike Tidwell, voted against the plan. Board member David White voted to approve it.
"If we have countless people from the neighborhood who have said they do not want this in their neighborhood, and we don't have one person here who has said they are in favor of these improvements, then I can't vote in favor of it," Henke said.
The city Parks Department plans to tear down dilapidated community centers and remove run-down swimming pools in nine parks and replace them with amenities more conducive to self-directed activities.
Parks Department director Lucy Dolman told board members the reason for the new focus is simple: "We can't afford staffs and large overhead," she said.
Jack Bubenik, a landscape architect with the Parks Department, told commissioners that a vote to reject the modified Franklin Park site plan would not save the park's community center and pool.
"Nothing is going to change," he said. "The building will still come down, the pool is still going to go away. That is from the current administration."
Bubenik said the community center has been closed since 2002 and is beyond repair.
"It would cost $1.6 million in today money to get that building up to an appropriate standard," Bubenik said. "We have $800,000."
He added: "Eight hundred thousand isn't going to build a building. If it could build a building, we don't have the money to staff it."
The city has met with neighborhood residents three times to discuss plans for the park, Bubenik said.
"What we heard was the building is not coming down, the pool is not going away, so we are not going to offer an input on design," Bubenik said. "So what we did as a department is we looked at the rest of the city of Tulsa ... we know what is successful."
For some of the opponents of the plan who spoke Tuesday, the proposal reflected another slap in the face for north Tulsa.
Jimmy Johnson Sr. told board members there was no reason that north Tulsa should look like Iraq.
"These parks look like third-world countries, and it is a shame," he said. "Nowhere in the world should they look like they look in north Tulsa."
He then lifted his young son, Jimmy Johnson Jr., to the podium to read a statement.
"Why does south Tulsa not want north Tulsa kids to have any fun?" the child read. "Why make me drive to 121st Street and Yale, when Franklin Park is closer to me?
"I don't get it."
The Rev. Warren Blakney, president of NAACP's Tulsa Chapter, echoed many other speakers in saying the existing Franklin Park facility should be upgraded and maintained.
"We need a facility in that community," he said. "We need it for our children, and we need it for our seniors."
Dolman and Bubenik expressed disappointment that the amenities would not be constructed but vowed to work with the neighborhood to come up with a new proposal.
"My fear is that if we don't move forward with some of these amenities, people are going to lose out," Dolman said. "And children in those areas all over town aren't going to have the amenities that other kids have because those communities supported it," she said.
Original Print Headline: Plan for amenities at local park rejected
Kevin Canfield 918-581-8313