Tulsa City Council, mayor prioritize goals for city
BY KEVIN CANFIELD World Staff Writer
Sunday, January 27, 2013
1/27/13 at 8:52 AM
City councilors and Mayor Dewey Bartlett sat down Saturday to set out a list of joint goals they hope to accomplish - or at least make progress on - in 2013.
The goals include continuing to explore funding options for improvements to Zink Dam and a new south Tulsa dam in the Arkansas River, creating online and social media outreach and marketing programs to promote the city and ensuring that the city's next Fix Our Streets package addresses all transportation-related needs and not just roads.
"I want us to complete some of these goals in the next 12 to 24 months and not just continue coming back here," said Councilor Jeannie Cue.
Last year the mayor and council used their first retreat to come up with five broad goals for 2012 and beyond.
Citizen task forces were created to provide recommendations on how to achieve the city's goals. The task forces have since reported their findings to the mayor and City Council.
On Saturday, councilors and the mayor went through those task force recommendations to prioritize them for implementation in 2013 or beyond.
"Some of these things we won't be able to achieve (this year), but I think we will be working toward each and every goal that is on there, and when we make decisions, we need to look at this list," Council Chairman David Patrick said after the retreat.
Mayoral Chief of Staff Jarred Brejcha said it was significant that the mayor and council had agreed to sit down two years in a row to set priorities for the city.
"We are going to keep talking and meeting until we can figure out how we can get (goals accomplished), and I think that is good," Brejcha said.
Saturday's retreat lasted four hours and was held at Councilor Blake Ewing's Phoenix Cafe. Here are some highlights:
Rough beginning: The retreat got off to a contentious start when councilors turned their discussion to one of last year's goals - identifying underused areas of the city for possible redevelopment.
The city's Planning and Economic Development department last year presented councilors with three publicly owned properties, including the site of the former Evans-Fintube industrial complex, as areas of possible redevelopment.
On Saturday, Councilor Jack Henderson said he had not been involved in the process of selecting the sites.
"I don't want nobody choosing anything for north Tulsa," Henderson said. "I'm the representative - I want to be included."
Councilor G.T. Bynum came to the defense of the city, saying it was "getting jumped on because you weren't paying attention in a meeting."
Ewing told Henderson that if he is so concerned about the people, "pay attention in the meetings" and stop falling asleep.
Chamber chat: The Tulsa Regional Chamber popped up in conversation a couple of times as councilors discussed separate task force recommendations on how the city could better promote itself and encourage entrepreneurship.
After several minutes of discussion about how the city might use social media to promote itself, Bynum asked whether such work was "a core function of government, and what are we paying the Chamber of Commerce to do?"
Later in the meeting, Ewing said the city's relationship with the chamber has never been like a private business' relationship with its marketing firm - where the firm is tasked with a specific job and not rehired if that task is not completed.
"That ultimately has never been there. That expectation has never been there," Ewing said. "And over time, I believe - and I am more capable of beating up on them, I guess - the chamber has developed to a point that they have a specific stated agenda of their own, and it is not necessarily always in lockstep with the specific agenda of the city of Tulsa."
Ewing went on to say that the chamber and the city will never have identical agendas because the chamber represents the region - not just Tulsa.
"This isn't to disparage them," Ewing said. "There are going to be times where we are not on the same page."
Councilor Jeannie Cue said she would consider reducing the amount the city pays the chamber for its services and would rather pay a firm that concentrates its efforts on the city.
Bynum said he simply wants to ensure that the city uses all of its resources before spending additional funds for marketing and promotion.
Councilors eventually agreed that a good first step would be to better identify its expectations for the chamber going forward.
$2 million startup challenge: A recommendation to pursue an annual global challenge for entrepreneurs to submit their business ideas drew strong support from councilors.
Under the proposal, 400 entrepreneurs would be chosen to pitch ideas and secure funding. Those entrepreneurs who would ultimately be funded would be required to move to Tulsa to start their new company.
"When I talk to people, even the most conservative folks you talk to, they love it," Bynum said.
The startup challenge was part of a broader discussion of how the city can become a hub for entrepreneurs.
BRT system: Transportation topics discussed Saturday included an upcoming study on the feasibility of constructing an inter-modal hub at the airport and creation of a pedestrian and cycling master plan.
No recommendation garnered more enthusiasm than the Bus Rapid Transit system in the early stages of development along a section of Peoria Avenue.
"What it does is totally transform the way people think about public transportation," Bynum said.
Public safety: Councilors agreed that their top public safety objectives for the year would be modernizing the city's antiquated records management system and increasing manpower by ensuring that another police academy is funded.
Councilor Skip Steele said he would also like to study how the Police Department could become more efficient - including through a better records management system - to get more police officers on the street.
"I just hate to see a police officer standing there 20 minutes filling out paperwork," he said.
Goals that councilors, mayor want to pursue
Here is a list of some of the tentative goals the City Council and Mayor Dewey Bartlett agreed to pursue in 2013 and beyond. The list will be refined and put into resolution form in the next several weeks:
ARKANSAS RIVER DEVELOPMENT
- Continue to pursue funding options for improvements to Zink Dam and construction of a dam in south Tulsa
- Pursue Riverside Drive improvements, possibly as part of next Fix Our Streets package
- Coordinate efforts with other organizations doing work on the river, including River Parks Authority
- Create outreach and marketing program, including social media
- Have Tulsa host governor's energy conference
- Pursue direct airline connections with major energy markets, such as Midland, Texas
- Redefine Fix Our Streets program to include all types of transportation needs, including sidewalks, bike lanes, etc.
- Fund creation of bike and pedestrian master plan
- Commit to Bus Rapid Transit system along Peoria Avenue
- Receive and evaluate airport inter-modal center
- Modernize Police Department's records management system
- Continue to increase Police Department's manpower
- Continue to improve 911 service
- Create quality-of-life task force for 61st Street and Peoria Avenue
Original Print Headline: Council, mayor prioritize goals
- Include beautification efforts in upcoming Fix Our Streets program
- Continue to focus on keeping Interstate 244 from airport to downtown clean
Kevin Canfield 918-581-8313