Tulsa’s City Council met for five hours Wednesday night to hear about 18 projects that could receive money from the city’s $158 million share of Vision2 revenues if the tax proposal is approved by county voters Nov. 6.
Councilors wanted to hear and ask questions about the projects before compiling the city’s official list, which they will approve through a resolution.
The council is expected to draft a resolution at a special meeting at 9 a.m. Thursday, with a vote to come next week.
Gilcrease Expressway: In plans for 50 years, the expressway has 12.2 miles completed and 6.7 miles left to go through the north and west sections of the city. The extension is projected to cost $230 million to $320 million, depending on the timing.
Mayor Dewey Bartlett has asked councilors to devote $10 million to the extension to partner with $50 million from other entities on an expressway connection over the Arkansas River.
Improved traffic flow and public safety access, along with economic development, have been cited as benefits.
Completing a highway loop around Tulsa by finishing the Gilcrease Expressway is the only way to get the most out of the $126 million local, federal and state investment that has been made so far, said Paul Zachary, city Engineering Services Department director.
Councilors indicated concerns about adding new roads into the city’s struggling infrastructure system.
It also would encourage sprawl, some said, noting that more fire stations would be needed and police manpower would be stretched.
Councilor Jack Henderson, whose north Tulsa district would include some of the extension, said, “Please, let’s complete this before I die.”
Bike and foot transportation: Indian Nations Council of Governments Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Committee Chairman Stephen Lassiter requested $15 million in city Vision2 funding.
The money could be used to match federal funding to pursue projects in a bicycle-pedestrian master plan, Lassiter said.
It could pay for 300 miles of street bicycle lanes, a downtown bicycle station, 150 pedestrian crossing beacons, 1,000 pedestrian rapid-flash beacons, 50 miles of sidewalks and 15 miles of trails.
Councilor Phil Lakin suggested that perhaps this would be better addressed through the Fix Our Streets initiative, for which city leaders are expected to seek a renewal from voters in 2013.
River dams and development: Kirby Crowe of PMg, which oversees Vision 2025 projects for the county, gave a presentation indicating that it would cost $41 million to repair and improve the Zink Dam, raise it 3 feet and add a whitewater feature.
Building a south Tulsa dam would cost $60 million, and the city would seek to pay for it with other public and private sources.
Also requested is $2.5 million for the Turkey Mountain wilderness area along the west side of the river.
The mayor has suggested a total allocation of $55 million for river development and dams, with Zink Dam as the top priority. Some councilors have said that’s not enough.
There’s still $25 million in state funding pending in court for the Zink Dam and several other potential funding sources, Crowe said.
Parks: $15 million was requested to create a Lacy Park Regional Recreation Center in north Tulsa and modernize the city’s five remaining swimming pools, said Lucy Dolman, Park and Recreation Department director.
Phase 1 of the Lacy Park center, with a cost of $5 million, includes renovations of existing rooms and other upgrades, she said.
The other $10 million would be used to make repairs and improvements to the pools.
Bartlett is supporting the department’s request.
Tulsa Zoo: A request of $27 million was made by Tulsa Zoo Director Terrie Correll to pay for half of the first phase of the zoo’s master plan. The rest would come from donations and other sources.
Vision2 funding would be used to build African Plains wild cats and African Forest chimpanzee exhibits and a Giraffe Celebration area.
The zoo, which is owned by the city and managed through a public-private partnership, is pursuing a 20-year, $150 million plan involving upgrades and many new exhibits.
Many of its facilities are decades old and crumbling.
Still, she said, it draws 550,000 visitors each year and has an economic impact of $27.5 million annually. Those numbers are projected to increase with the implementation of the master plan.
The mayor has recommended a $20 million allocation for the zoo.
Botanical Garden: Oklahoma Centennial Botanical Garden Executive Director Todd Lasseigne requested $7.4 million in Vision2 funds to put toward its master plan.
The money would go toward construction and planting design of an entry sequence and parking lot gardens and building a 1.7-acre aquatic garden and additional infrastructure.
Tulsa Children’s Museum: The museum’s backers are seeking $15 million in Vision2 funding to match $15 million that would come from a capital campaign to build a permanent location. Different areas of the city are being considered.
Formed in 2007, the museum has existed in temporary facilities and served 40,000 children.
Executive Director Raymond Vandiver said the future site will employ 44 full-time and 50 part-time employees.
He hopes construction will start in late 2018 or early 2019 and that the facility will be open by 2020.
Central Library: Tulsa City-County Library CEO Gary Shaffer requested $10 million to put toward the Central Library’s $47.8 million renovation.
The library system has set aside $15 million, and $22.8 million will come from a capital campaign, he said.
The finished product will include a 350-seat auditorium, a parking garage, a garden, and numerous upgrades and repairs to the building.
Downtown: The city’s Downtown Coordinating Council has requested a total of $18.4 million in Vision2 funding.
Of that amount, $405,000 would be used to convert more one-way streets to two way; $4 million would go for Inner Dispersal Loop gateway upgrades and landscaping; $4 million would extend the railroad’s sealed corridor and quiet zone into the Greenwood area; and $10 million would match with other funds for a downtown trolly system.
The mayor has recommended a total of $10 million for downtown in general.
Neighborhoods: Vision 2025 designated just more than $2 million for neighborhoods. The money was distributed for various projects based on neighborhood association sweat equity and matching funds.
Bartlett suggested $10 million for a neighborhood fund from Vision2. It also could be used for improvements such as speed humps and sidewalks.
Neighborhood advocate Kaye Price suggested that $1 million and change go to each of Tulsa’s nine council districts.
Route 66 Village: Project backers are seeking $539,229 to build a shelter, information center and rest rooms in the Route 66 Red Fork area on the city’s west side.
Flood control: Judith Finn, chairwoman of the city’s Stormwater and Hazard Mitigation Board, requested $10 million to put toward levee repair.
“Levee repair is a public safety issue of the highest order,” she said. “At least 50,000 people live behind the levees, and billions (of dollars) in infrastructure is at risk.”
Repairs are expected to cost $25 million, Finn said, noting that Tulsa County has agreed to allocate $10 million of its Vision2 share.
Morton Comprehensive Health Services: Officials are asking for $400,000 to buy a generator for the facility in north Tulsa so it can operate in power outages.
OU-TU: Officials asked the city to put $5 million toward a joint University of Oklahoma-University of Tulsa medical school to be built downtown.
The first phase is expected to cost $20 million. Bartlett supports the request.
Hospital: OSU Medical Center officials are seeking $2.5 million in Vision2 money to put toward a capital campaign.
The downtown hospital, which serves many low-income residents, was rescued from closing in 2008 by being acquired by the city through a trust. The funds would go toward replacing the parking garage.
Bartlett supports this allocation.
OSU-Tulsa: Campus President Howard Barnett requested $5 million in Vision2 funding to put toward the building of a $30 million Medical and Academic Center.
“The support of the city is critical to our being able to raise the private support we need,” he said.
Construction on the campus north of downtown should start in 2016.
The mayor backs this funding request.
Langston: A $5 million request was made by Langston University to put toward Phase 2 of its School of Nursing and Health Professionals.
The project’s total cost is $15.4 million. The first phase was built with the help of Vision 2025 funding.
Tulsa Community College: TCC officials requested $13.5 million for Phase 2 of its Fire Training and Emergency Training Center, which is a partnership with the Tulsa Fire Department.
Phase 1 is funded by the city’s 2005 general obligation bond initiative. It is now under construction on 40 acres provided by the TCC Northeast Campus.
The facility and programs will be managed by a joint agreement between TCC and the city.
Mayor’s Office: Bartlett also would like to see $10 million for Riverside Drive park-and-ride infrastructure and $5 million to use as matching money to clean up local brownfield sites.
Mayoral Chief of Staff Jarred Brejcha also revealed a new recommendation from Bartlett, who is in Japan on a business-recruitment trip, to give $5.5 million to the Tulsa and Union school districts.
The funds would be for computers for remedial reading instruction and smart boards for interactive learning.
“Mayor Bartlett believes the return on investment is justified by helping to establish better and more up-to-date public education in Tulsa,” Brejcha said, adding that the districts are grappling with declining budgets.