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Develop 71st and Riverside in a Responsible Manner

This petition had 524 supporters


Background:
In 1991, private donations, a bank loan to the Board of Trustees of Park Friends Inc., and surplus sales tax funds from 1985 were gathered together for the City of Tulsa to purchase land along Riverside Drive, "between 71st St. and Joe Creek" to be used as public park land.

In 1999, The City of Tulsa Parks Department published a set of plans for the development of the land.

In August of 2015, the Tulsa Public Facilities Authority (TPFA) voted to sell 12.3 acres of this land to North Point Property Company LLC of Dallas, TX for $1.46 million.  The vote of the TPFA was 3-2. Two of five members of the authority voted against the deal because they weren’t sure whether the land was formally declared as surplus. In other words, they were not sure if this action by the TPFA is legal.

Selling the land for commercial retail development is a violation of the Arkansas River Corridor Plan, and a violation of the spirit and intent of the Park Facilities category in the 1985 sales tax.

As a public trust, it is the TPFA's fiduciary responsibility to ensure that the land entrusted to it, is used in the best interest of the public. Should the land be sold, that action should be taken legally, and the TPFA should actively seek to get the best price for the land. Selling this land for $118,700 per acre is a breach of the public's trust.

The Tulsa City Council has already shown their disapproval of this development.  The site plan submitted represents nothing more than a big-box store surrounded by acres of impervious paved surface. The developer's idea of fitting in with the trails and greenspace along the river is to erect a large wall between the store and the trails. We deserve better than this. A period of time to review the legality of the transaction, ensure the public is getting the best deal for this valuable land, and IF development should occur, it is done with good design guidelines that reflect the type of high-quality development that the public and the City Council has already said they want, along the river. 

Solutions:

  • Ensure that the sale of this land is legal. As is seen in the 1991 ordinance amending the 1985 sales tax ordinance and the subsequent transfer of the $2.25 million, the money was never intended to acquire and establish a commercial retail facility. Selling this land for commercial retail development is a violation of the spirit and intent of the Park Facilities category in the 1985 sales tax.

  • Include this 12.3 acre section of land as part of the Tulsa City Council's moratorium on riverfront development. Should the city wish to use this land for retail development, it needs to be carefully considered and well-designed. A 12-acre parking lot, with a large wall facing the river is not what we want for this land.

  • Designate that land along the Arkansas River cannot be sold without the approval of the city council requiring a super majority vote - and then only after at least one properly advertised public hearing held by the council.

  • Consider leasing the land rather than selling it: The Tulsa Riverparks Authority leases 4.41 acres of park land to the Blue Rose Café. The lease for 10 years with 4 possible extensions of 5 years each. RPA receives $21,600/yr for the base lease plus a varying percentage, up to 5% of gross sales. This year RPA will receive over $76,000 and the city still owns the property.


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