Tulsa City Council envisions $71 million for Arkansas River dams in Vison2 proposal
BY BRIAN BARBER World Staff Writer
Friday, September 21, 2012
9/21/12 at 7:36 AM
Read the City Council’s draft projects list.
Read more about the proposal and the status of Vision 2025 projects.
Read continuing coverage of Tulsa’s City Council.
Tulsa's City Council on Thursday tentatively set aside $71 million in potential Vision2 funding for Arkansas River dams.
Of that amount, $41 million would go to repair and make safety improvements to Zink Dam, along with raising the structure by three feet and adding a whitewater feature.
And $30 million would go to partner with other sources, possibly Jenks and the Muscogee (Creek) Nation, on a new $60 million south Tulsa dam.
Councilors held a two-hour morning session to divvy up $158 million among city quality-of-life projects that would be funded through the passage of the proposed Vision2 package by voters Nov 6.
The council agreed that putting water in the river with dams was their top priority for the countywide package.
"Vision2 is our opportunity to do real river development," Council Chairman G.T. Bynum said. "It's a chance for us to take control of our destiny."
Councilors also were in agreement to put $20 million toward the Tulsa Zoo's master plan of upgrades.
But from there, a debate raged between distributing the potential funding among a lot of projects or selecting just a few for higher amounts.
Councilor Blake Ewing encouraged his council colleagues not to spread the money too thin.
"For the most part, people point to one thing that Vision 2025 accomplished - the BOK Center - out of the hundreds of millions of dollars that have been spent," Ewing said.
In a recent joint meeting between Tulsa councilors and Oklahoma City's mayor and council, that city's leaders said the success of its Metropolitan Area Projects initiative has been to focus on a few areas and "to put money on top of money," Ewing said.
"That's what changes the trajectory of a city. You don't spread it all over town making sure everyone is happy."
But Councilor David Patrick disagreed.
"If you pare it down to a few projects, you pare it down to only a few people supporting it," he said.
"If this doesn't pass it's all for nothing."
Councilors heard funding requests Wednesday night totaling nearly $260 million from various project backers.
The council Thursday whittled those down to a draft list that, in addition to the river dams and the zoo, includes:
The list is only a draft, Bynum said. Two public hearings will be held by the council at 6 p.m. Tuesday and Thursday to gather public feedback.
- $5 million for the Gilcrease Expressway extension
- $14 million for the city's Parks and Recreation Department to create a Lacy Park Regional Recreation Center and to repair and modernize the city's five remaining pools
- $4.5 million for neighborhood improvements ($500,000 for each of the nine council districts)
- $471,000 to help clean up local brownfield sites
- $10 million for the Tulsa Children's Museum to help build a permanent location
- $10 million for the Central Library renovation
- $549,000 for the Route 66 Village
- $5 million to help University of Oklahoma-University of Tulsa build a medical school downtown
- $5 million to help Oklahoma State University-Tulsa build a new Medical and Academic Center on its campus
- $400,000 for Morton Comprehensive Health Services to buy an industrial generator for its clinic
- $5 million for Langston University to put toward phase two of its nursing school
- $7 million for Tulsa Community College to put toward phase two of the fire training center that's a joint partnership with the Tulsa Fire Department
The council is expected to vote on a resolution after the Thursday public hearing to finalize the list.
Councilor Jack Henderson said he supports the proposed allocations.
"Look at this list," he said. "This reflects Tulsa. This reflects what voters will get excited about."
"This proposal, if we choose to move forward with it, will have the best chance of passing than anything else we can do."
Bynum had pushed for $81 million for river dam funding instead of $71 million, so the city would have an extra $10 million to put toward collaborating on a new south Tulsa dam, saying he wanted to make sure it gets done.
But other councilors urged less.
"We need to put in our fair share, but not more than our fair share," Councilor Phil Lakin said about funding the new dam.
Bynum said $71 million is "absolutely the lowest I could stomach us going."
"That would leave $31 million we'd still have to find (to build the south Tulsa dam)," he said.
"My concern is that we keep hoping that outside entities will help us but that's what we've been doing for years," he said.
"Ultimately, what the people at the ballot box and 50 years from now will remember about Vision2 is the river."
Councilors and the mayor's administration have a meeting set Monday with Jenks and Creek tribal officials to discuss collaborating on the new dam.
Ewing questioned the funding going to local higher education institutions for their projects.
"I think they will happen whether we fund them or not," he said. "I can't imagine a future where OU and TU officials stand before us and say, 'Yeah, we wanted to build that medical school, but you guys didn't pony up the $5 million so we called it off.' "
Other projects won't happen unless they receive funding, Ewing said, adding that it's up to councilors to make hard choices, not to try to be pollsters.
Councilor Tom Mansur, who has announced he is not actively seeking re-election to his seat this fall although he will be on the ballot, was absent for Wednesday and Thursdays sessions.
He has missed numerous meetings since his decision to take a job out of town.
Upcoming Tulsa City Council Vision2 meetings
All meetings are at the City
Hall Council Chambers, Second
Street and Cincinnati Avenue
6 p.m. Tuesday: A public hearing
will be held on the council’s draft
resolution containing the projects
6 p.m. Thursday: A second public
hearing will be held on the draft
resolution, and the council will
have a final vote.
Election date: Nov. 6
Amount: $748.8 million
Tax impact: Extension of 0.6 percent
Vision 2025 sales tax from
2017 through 2029
PROPOSITION 1: ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT
Airport industrial complex buildings
and infrastructure: $122 million
Airport industrial complex equipment:
Closing fund: $52.942 million
Bond costs and interest: $79.938
PROPOSITION 2: QUALITY-OF-LIFE
Tulsa County: $92 million
Tulsa: $157.92 million
Bixby: $11.3 million
Broken Arrow: $44.1 million
Collinsville: $3 million
Glenpool: $5.9 million
Jenks: $9.2 million
Owasso: $14.38 million
Sand Springs: $10.1 million
Skiatook: $1.16 million
Bond costs and interest: $12 million
Original Print Headline: Council envisions $71 million for Arkansas River dams
Brian Barber 918-581-8322