City Hall report
BY ZACK STOYCOFF & KEVIN CANFIELD World Staff Writers
Sunday, February 10, 2013
2/10/13 at 3:23 AM
Read all of the week’s stories on the city.
"Glad to sacrifice my dignity for (Tulsa Animal Welfare),"
- Councilor G.T. Bynum, tweeting Thursday night after being kissed - while seated on the floor of the City Council chamber - by a dog, to kick of the council's effort to encourage pet adoption.
"When you were talking about the (EMSA) board is looking at putting tighter restrictions on expenditures now, weren't those restrictions not there to begin with?"
- City Councilor Karen Gilbert, addressing EMSA trustee Clay Bird, during a council committee meeting on the recently released EMSA audit
Week in Review
Pedestrian safety: City Councilor Blake Ewing said last week that he would like to see the city put more planning time and dollars into ensuring that Tulsa's burgeoning entertainment districts are safe for pedestrians.
He wants to start with the Cherry Street area.
In 2012, Cherry Street and other portions of downtown had the most traffic accidents per square mile, according to a recent Tulsa World analysis.
Ewing said he will propose a budget amendment for approximately $17,000 to fund an LED crosswalk on Cherry Street and another one crossing Lewis Avenue near Circle Cinema.
The city's striping and sign crew includes five people.
The city has 1,249 lane miles of arterial streets to stripe and an estimated 500,000 signs to maintain and replace as needed.
Oil and gas museum: City Councilor Skip Steele said Monday that he wants the city of Tulsa to be home to a privately funded oil and gas museum.
He said he believes there are still enough Tulsans around who made their names and fortunes in the business that the private sector could get it built.
"I think those individuals would love the idea of being involved in a project to design and develop, as well as fund, a museum that would basically be a monument to their accomplishments," Steele said.
Boulder bridge opened: Officials opened the Boulder Avenue bridge over downtown's railroad tracks Monday after a yearlong, $8.3 million reconstruction project.
The 290-foot span between First and Archer streets replaces a bridge that was previously deemed unstable. The reconstruction, funded by the 2008 Fix Our Streets package and the 2006 Third Penny program, took about a year.
Demolition, design and construction cost nearly $11 million combined.
The two-way bridge links the city's business core with the burgeoning Brady District.
Old City Hall: The "soft opening" of a hotel that is under construction in the former City Hall building has been pushed back from mid-February until April as the city awaits road construction plans that would give firefighters access to the building.
Tulsa Fire Department spokesman Stan May said the developers of the Aloft hotel would not be granted their temporary certificate of occupancy until the city's Engineering Department has received and approved final plans for the extension of Fifth Street to the hotel's entrance on the Tulsa Civic Center Plaza.
According to a development schedule provided to the city by the developer, TOCH LLC, the final bid documents for the street extension are scheduled to be completed in early April. The extension will be complete Sept. 1, the schedule states.
Grants Administration: Dafne Pharis, interim director of the city's Grants Administration Department, has been reassigned to a new position within the city's Finance Division.
Pat Connelly, the city's Budget and Capital Planning Division manager, will leave his position to become acting Grants Administration director.
EMSA: Mayor Dewey Bartlett would like the EMSA board of trustees to consider reviewing all discretionary expenditures of $500 or more, his appointee to the board told city councilors Thursday.
Clay Bird, chief economic development officer for the city, said fellow EMSA trustees and the mayor "want pretty extreme oversight at this point" of EMSA spending.
Councilors invited the mayor or his representative to their afternoon committee meeting to "get some feel that the administration is looking at this and not just taking it lightly," Councilor Jack Henderson said.
A state audit issued in January found that EMSA spent lavishly on "unwarranted and extravagant" items, including spa treatments for CEO Steve Williamson and an anniversary party for employees, and took EMSA's board to task for failing to stop "abusive expenditure patterns."
The City Council last year urged EMSA to seek an investigative audit.
Public Safety Working Group: The Public Safety Intelligence Working Group created after the Fairmont Terrace shootings recommended Tuesday that the city help fund the nonprofit organization that operates Tulsa's crime-reporting tip line.
The final recommendations include entering into a contract with the Crime Prevention Network, formerly known as the Tulsa Crime Commission, to ensure that the organization has annual funding from the city.
The main goal would be to help fund a massive marketing campaign for the organization's Crime Stoppers tip line, which could carry a total budget of at least $250,000.
Other recommendations include the city's investing in a new records management system for the Tulsa Police Department, which could cost an estimated $7 million, and examining the cost of hiring local Crime Stoppers operators, who are now based out of state.
Pet adoption: The City Council began what will be a monthly pet adoption awareness campaign Thursday, showing off two dogs that are available for adoption at the Tulsa Animal Welfare Shelter.
Councilor G.T. Bynum, who spearheaded the campaign, said the council will feature such pets at one of its regular meetings each month in an effort to reduce the number of animals that must be euthanized at the shelter.
Anyone interested in adopting them or any other dogs or cats can call 918-596-8011 or visit the shelter at 3031 N. Erie Ave.
Information on the current City Council pets of the month will be available by calling the council's office at 918-596-1990.
Demolition ban extended: The council on Thursday approved an extension through May 15 of downtown's demolition ban from taking effect until the end of this month.
The council voted Jan. 31 to extend for one month the previous six-month ban on demolishing downtown buildings to make surface parking lots, which was set to expire that day.
Councilor David Patrick previously requested the shorter extension so he could speak with the ban's proponent, Councilor Blake Ewing, who had to leave the Jan. 31 meeting before the item was discussed.
Patrick said he became comfortable with a longer extension after speaking with Ewing at a committee meeting earlier Thursday.
The original ban took effect July 18.
61st and Peoria task force: The council voted Thursday to create a task force to seek quality-of-life improvements for the area of 61st Street and Peoria Avenue, where four women were fatally shot at an apartment complex Jan. 7.
The task force will focus on improving safety, creating activities for children and establishing social services such as health care, Councilor Jeannie Cue said.
She said task force members are still being sought. Anyone who is interested, including residents, can call the City Council's office at 918-596-1990.
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Traffic crosses the Boulder Avenue bridge in downtown Tulsa on Monday. MATT BARNARD / Tulsa World