Arkansas River Development Vital for Tulsa
Commentary By DEWEY F. BARTLETT JR.
Mayor, City of Tulsa
AWAITING ATTENTION: During the past months, Mayor Dewey Bartlett and the Tulsa City Council have hosted public meetings to present findings of the Arkansas River Infrastructure Task Force related to building Arkansas River infrastructure, including funding for a new Zink Lake dam and additional low-water dams in the Arkansas River.
Tulsans are fortunate to have a river running through this community that connects us to the north, south, east and west parts of town. By developing the river, we can create value for all communities within the city and our entire region that’s potentially a win-win for all.
This summer the Tulsa City Council and I launched public meetings to present task force findings related to building Arkansas River infrastructure, including funding for a new Zink Lake dam and additional low-water dams in the Arkansas River. We are just beginning to explore all the funding options as outlined in the task force report, but the current thought is to extend a portion of 0.6 percent Vision 2025 sale tax, which will expire in 2016.
Councilor G. T. Bynum, River Task Force chairman, led an effort to study the feasibility of building low-water dams in the river and possible funding sources. He and the Task Force did an excellent job in developing a number of good funding options to review and present to the public for further discussion.
Private investment along the river has spurred this action. I want to thank the George Kaiser Family Foundation for bestowing A Gathering Place for Tulsa to River Parks. This incredible gift to our city is thought to be the largest gift made in the history of the U.S. River Parks is now the proud owner of 58.37 acres of new park land where people can go enjoy a beautiful day, spend time with families and friends, or simply watch the river roll by. We are extremely fortunate to have this incredible gift for our city and its future.
Water in the river is crucial for our city’s continued growth and for future generations. Now more than ever, we have an opportunity to develop our greatest natural asset – the Arkansas River – while preserving its prairie-like natural beauty.
Done right, development on the river can be a tasteful, beautiful attraction for residents and visitors, while protecting the life within it. I ask all Tulsans to join me in considering the possibilities of developing our river and showcasing our city’s crown jewel.
This fall, Councilor Bynum and I will take our public safety message to rotary clubs, churches and other organizations in order to engage all sectors about the proposed plans for putting water in the river. We are hopeful, if the response is positive, that citizens could vote on this in April 2015.