Broken Arrow projects must wait for 2014 bond vote
BY ZACK STOYCOFF World Staff Writer
Wednesday, November 14, 2012
11/14/12 at 8:07 AM
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BROKEN ARROW - Road and public safety projects that would have been funded by Vision2 will have to wait at least two years now that voters have rejected the initiative, city officials said.
Broken Arrow planned to use its $44.1 million share of the countywide sales tax initiative to widen five arterial roads, extend Main Street, replace 36 emergency vehicles and remodel two fire stations.
Citing the urgency of those needs, officials earmarked some of the money to issue bonds that would have funded the projects well before Vision2 money was set to arrive in 2017.
Now the projects will have to wait at least until the next city bond election in 2014, although funding all of them might take multiple bonds over more than one year, said Russell Peterson, chairman of the residents' group that helped identify the projects and works on the city's bond proposals.
"Obviously, it just defers these improvements until we can do it ourselves in a bond issue," he said. "There will just be some delays and obviously the traffic jams will continue for another two years, at least."
Mayor Craig Thurmond said city officials have not had a chance to discuss alternative plans since Tulsa County voters rejected the $748.8 million initiative Nov. 6.
He said their focus will likely shift to the planned 2014 bond package, which will be crafted next year with help from business leaders and residents, much like the local Vision2 projects and past bond packages.
"I know we will look at our needs at that point in time," Thurmond said. "I think if our citizens come together, they'll have a lot of the same input they've had in the past."
Broken Arrow had the third-largest share of a $361.9 million portion of Vision2 that would have funded quality-of-life projects for the county and each of its cities.
City staff members, the Build a Better Broken Arrow residents' group and the Broken Arrow Economic Development Corp. developed the city's projects, which were formalized after a public meeting.
Officials dubbed them critical to keeping ahead of infrastructure and public safety needs, citing frequent bottlenecks on the five east-west roads identified in the proposal and increasing medical calls near two fire stations that would have been remodeled into ambulance hubs.
Vision2 also would have also opened a vacant area northwest of Main Street to development, expanded an intersection and replaced 35 police cars and a fire truck.
"We thought those were very important needs for the community," Thurmond said. "This is just going to slow down some of our projects as far as our hopes to get ahead of the curve."
Thurmond said he believes county officials will attempt to resurrect Vision2. If they do, he said he hopes there is more public participation on the county level and that the Broken Arrow projects are identified again.
"I hope they'll do more in the model of what we did in Vision 2025, where we had a lot of citizen input and we worked on it from that level," he said. "I think they can get by if they involve and educate the community properly."
Peterson, chairman of the Build a Better Broken Arrow Committee, said the group will advocate that at least some of the proposed Vision2 projects be included in future bond packages, if not in 2014.
"We said from the get-go that if the proposal failed, the stuff on our list would probably show up on future bond issues at some point in time," he said.
Original Print Headline: BA projects must wait for 2014 vote
Zack Stoycoff 918-581-8486
Mayor Craig Thurmond: "This is just going to slow down some of our projects."