Mayoral candidate criticizes park delay due to Vision2 proposal
BY BRIAN BARBER World Staff Writer
Friday, November 02, 2012
Delay of a long-planned south Tulsa park because of a possible bridge that would be funded in part by Vision2 shows the need to vote against the tax package, mayoral candidate Bill Christiansen said.
“I am not opposed to visioning and planning for our needs as we get closer to the expiration of Vision 2025,” he said in a press release issued late Thursday night.
“I am proposing a thorough, transparent, and inclusive vision process with dialogue with the citizens of Tulsa to see what we need and how to accomplish those needs.”
The $748.8 million Vision2 package’s fate will be decided Tuesday by Tulsa County voters.
Christiansen, the only announced candidate so far in Tulsa’s 2013 mayoral race, served on the council from 2002 until 2011 and spent many years trying to make the Grace K. Cousins Park a reality.
Charles Cousins conceived of the park decades ago as a tribute to his wife, Grace Cousins.
The Cousins family donated 10 acres at the southwest corner of 121st and Yale to the city Park and Recreation Department in 1998, with the stipulation that it remain a conservation area and that the family be involved in its design.
A few years ago, the city bought 35 more acres bounded by 121st Street, Yale Avenue and the Arkansas River for $950,000 with the intention of eventually turning the entire site into a park.
As planned, Cousins Park would be a combination nature center, nature preserve and pioneer park operated with assistance from the Oxley Nature Center Association.
Before he left the council, Christiansen helped secure $244,375 from the city for the first phase of the project, with an additional $2.2 million to be raised privately for subsequent phases.
But the design work was put on hold due to a Bixby proposal for a toll bridge across the Arkansas River.
The bridge, funded in part by Bixby’s $11.3 million share of Vision2 quality-of-life dollars, would land just south of the park, at about 124th Street, and include an extension of South Delaware Avenue through Cousins Park to 121st Street.
Part of what bothers him about Vision2, Christiansen said, is the loose nature of the projects included and their impact.
Proposition 2 of the package includes $361.7 million quality-of-life projects but none are specified on the ballot, he said.
“Let’s create a better vision for Tulsa,” Christiansen said. “We have the time to do it right, we may not have the chance to do it over.”
Former Tulsa councilor and mayoral candidate Bill Christiansen. MICHAEL WYKE/Tulsa World File