Bixby Officials, Residents Anticipate Bixhoma Projects
By EMILY RAMSEY
MASTER PLAN: In 2016, the Bixhoma Lake Master Plan was approved by the City of Bixby. The plan sets out potential future projects, including improved lake access and the addition of restroom facilities, boat docks and launch areas.
Courtesy City of Bixby
While “Bixhoma Lake has been a hidden gem for a long time,” says Bixby City Councilor Richard Stewart, if area residents have anything to say about it, the area won’t stay that way for much longer.
Bixhoma Lake, located in Leonard near 181st Street and 161st East Avenue, is seeing an uptick in visitors and recreational use, Stewart notes.
However, it has only been recently that the City of Bixby began to take notice of the needs of the area largely due to an outcry from residents.
In 2016, voters approved a bond issue that included over $300,000 set aside to aid the city in increasing beautification efforts at the site; that includes using the funds in matching federal grants.
Also in 2016, the Bixhoma Lake Master Plan was approved, which includes improved lake access and the addition of restroom facilities, boat docks and launch areas.
“We want to make the area functional for people; it needs to be maintained and kept beautiful,” Stewart says.
Much of the maintenance of Bixhoma Lake up until recently has been done by volunteers. Earlier this year, the area received a $25,000 grant from Lowe’s thanks to the SkillsUSA Chapter at Tulsa Tech – Peoria Campus. The group used the funds to relocate the gazebo from Charley Young Park, install playground equipment and picnic tables, and engage in clean-up work in the area.
In 2015, a group of residents formed the Lake Bixhoma Foundation, with their focus to help maintain the area and to draw attention to the lake, says foundation volunteer Jim Kirkpatrick.
Since the group’s formation, several work days have been held with nearly 70 people helping to clean up the area, including many city officials, says Kirkpatrick.
With the City of Bixby’s recent efforts to show its support of Bixhoma Lake, “we feel that we’ve accomplished our goal because we have gotten the city’s attention,” he says.
Yet, although recreational use of the lake has increased, the original reason for the construction of Bixhoma Lake as a water supply source for the city should not be forgotten, says Bixby City Manager Jared Cottle.
While Bixby currently receives all of its water from the City of Tulsa, “there’s a potential that we could use the Bixhoma water supply source again in the future,” he says, due to rising water costs with Tulsa.
For that reason, the lake must be preserved as a potential water source, which eliminates water recreation options involving body contact, such as swimming. Kayaking, fishing and boating are all permitted.
Moving forward, the city’s next steps include developing a strategic plan in order to identify and apply for applicable grant programs, says Cottle.
He expects to see the grant application process begin next year.