Broken Arrow to sell $12 million in bonds for streets, other projects
BY SUSAN HYLTON World Staff Writer
Tuesday, August 07, 2012
BROKEN ARROW — Streets top a $12 million project list in the city’s next sale of general obligation bonds.
Acting City Manager Russell Gale said the bond money will come from the sale of bonds that voters approved in 2004, 2008 and 2011.
Under a plan approved by the City Council on Tuesday, the majority of the bonds — $9.7 million — will go toward street improvements. The rest will go toward a “quality of life” project at the developing Events Park in east Broken Arrow and a stormwater project.
One of the street projects will complete a five-lane project on Aspen Avenue (145th East Avenue) from Florence to Tucson streets ((111th to 121st streets) in the south part of the city.
Another will complete a five-lane project on Ninth Street (177th East Avenue or Lynn Lane Road) from the Broken Arrow Expressway to Albany Street (61st Street), which will alleviate bottleneck traffic at the Target store and the Bass Pro Shops area.
“I think that’s a key priority project,” Mayor Craig Thurmond said. “That area doesn’t flow well.”
Gale said the bond sale will raise the $16.20 millage rate to an estimated $16.61.
About $32 million is left from previous bonds that have not been sold because of the prioritization of projects.
Nearly $6 million was dedicated to a conference center and hotel in 2004. That project never got off the ground, so the bonds were never sold.
Design estimates exceeded the allocation, and voters were not willing to make up the shortfall. Council interest has also wavered, and the struggling economy did not help.
A $35,000 feasibility study will be conducted to determine whether the city wants to keep or scrap the conference center project.
During the public comments portion of Tuesday evening’s council meeting, Teresa Tucker spoke in defense of her sister, City Councilor Jill Norman, in response to previous statements from a group who supported a controversial proposed Indian casino.
The group, Citizens Protecting Native American Sovereignty, formerly known as Broken Arrow Residents for the Red Clay Casino, asked Norman to resign from either the City Council or the Broken Arrow Citizens Against Neighborhood Gaming group because of some of its members’ statements on its Facebook page that some found offensive and racist.
Tucker said some of the comments were inappropriate but that Norman cannot be held responsible for another person’s free speech.
“Attending a gathering to celebrate the (court) injunction (stopping progress on the casino construction) is not racist,” she said. “Agreeing with the opposition is not racist. Associating with a group that disagreed with the casino is not racist.”
Members of the Creek Nation also opposed the casino, she noted.
The neighborhood group has hundreds of members, and Tucker pointed out that other politicians and city councilors who also are members haven’t been asked to step down.
The neighborhood group previously asked Mike Lester to resign from the council because of the perception that he was in favor of the casino. Lester resigned the mayor’s seat but refused to leave the council.