Court order sought to stop demolition of of Franklin Park center
BY BILL BRAUN World Staff Writer
Thursday, July 26, 2012
Six Tulsans are seeking a court order to prevent the city of Tulsa from demolishing the B.C. Franklin Recreation Center.
The civil action, filed Thursday in Tulsa County District Court, requests an injunction to prevent the destruction of the center and seeks a court order mandating that allocated tax dollars be used for improvements to the center.
The B.C. Franklin Park and Recreation Center, on 16 acres at 1818 E. Virgin St., was built in the early 1970s using federal dollars. It is in “imminent danger of being demolished,” according to the court document.
The listed plaintiffs are Bishop Thomas Smith, Wilma Harding, Sammye Hitchye, Melgreneta Wilson, Thedal Gaines and Patricia Gaines. They are identified as “residents, home owners and taxpayers in the area directly affected.”
The recreation center’s demolition “will further adversely impact the quality of their life and that of their children,” the plaintiffs maintain.
Defendants in the case include the City Council, Mayor Dewey Bartlett, city councilors as individuals, the Tulsa Park and Recreation Board, and several Park and Recreation Department officials.
A hearing related to the plaintiffs’ application for a temporary restraining order is set for Friday before Tulsa County District Judge Carlos Chappelle.
The city’s plan to add amenities to Franklin Park was rejected Tuesday when the city Board of Adjustment turned down a modified site plan for the park.
The city is proposing to demolish the dilapidated recreation center and swimming pool at the park and replace them with such attractions as a water playground, a multipurpose sports court and a large pavilion with seating.
Not one person spoke in support of that plan at the Board of Adjustment meeting, and nearly a dozen people rose to oppose it.
The Park and Recreation 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.
Department Director Lucy Dolman said recently that the reason for the shift in focus is that “we can’t afford staffs and large overhead.”
The injunction request filed Thursday states that the “alleged reason” for the demolition is financial, yet city and Park and Recreation Department officials have “blatantly ignored and refused to expend tax dollars allocated for the maintenance, upkeep and refurbishing of B.C. Franklin center for more than a decade.”
The plaintiffs seek a court order requiring the mayor, City Council, and Park and Recreation Department and board to “comply with the law and expend tax dollars designated for the specific improvements to B.C. Franklin Center.”