River development meetings this week


The process of developing an Arkansas River Corridor Master Plan continues this week with three "workshops" -- tonight, Wednesday, and Thursday. Here are the details from the e-mail notice:

The next series of public workshops has been set for Tuesday through Thursday, May 4 - 6th. The location of these Public Workshops will be in Suite 110, 201 W. 5 th Street, Tulsa. These offices are located on the first floor of the 201 Executive Center, where the INCOG offices are located. Parking is available in the surface lot directly west of the building or at metered parking on the street. (meters are not enforced after 5:00 p.m.) The public is invited to attend these workshops from 5:00 - 7:30 p.m. at your convenience any or all of the three nights listed. The format will be informal, similar to the Open House format used in our March meetings. No survey will be used in this set of meetings. Since you attended one or more of the Open House meetings held in March, you are encouraged to attend these workshops to provide your additional input or to assist in reviewing the work provided by Carter - Burgess.

The previous workshops were based upon site inventory and analysis, looking at existing conditions that affect master plan issues. This set of workshops will begin to lay out the ideas and concepts that were received at the previous workshops. The Carter - Burgess design team will be working during the day, presenting their progress during the 5:00 pm to 7:30 pm timeframe, and then will start the next day with the input received the previous night.

The email lists Gaylon Pinc, Manager of Environmental and Engineering Services, as the point of contact for more information. His e-mail is gpinc@incog.org and his phone number is 918-584-7526.

The email included a summary of input from the previous meeting, which you can read below. People seem to want some small-scale retail development -- to get something to drink or a bite to eat, rent some rollerblades or a bike -- but nothing so large or obtrusive that it degrades the natural beauty of the river and its banks. The kind of boardwalks you find in old beach resort towns in New Jersey, Delaware, and Maryland might provide a model for the sorts of businesses a Tulsa boardwalk could have, though not as large-scale, and obviously ours wouldn't be geared toward swimming and sunbathing. Many boardwalks back east include very small amusement parks, with rides geared toward 12 and under. Small galleries might be a good fit, too. The point is to have enough interesting things to draw a critical mass of people, which is really at the heart of what Tulsans are seeking when they talk about development along the river. They want a pleasant place to walk alongside a lot of other people. They want the sort of experience you get at Mayfest available all year long or at least from spring through fall.

In the book A Pattern Language, architect and urban planning theorist Christopher Alexander and his co-authors identified a development pattern they named "Promenade" and defined as a public place where you can go to see people and be seen. Shopping malls meet this need, but imperfectly as they aren't always open, they are closed off from the outdoors, they are isolated from the rest of the city, and they are only successful if visitors are spending more time buying in the stores than promenading along. (Follow those links to get to a summary of the book, including a description of each of the identified patterns, with related patterns hyperlinked to each other.)

Here's the summary of the survey:

Survey Provides Additional Public Input on River Development
Early evening workshops open 5-7:30 p.m. May 4 through 6
Nearly 70 percent of respondents to a recently completed informal survey say they visit the Arkansas River area at least once a month, and more than 75 percent said the river needs some or much improvement.

The survey was conducted along with a series of public meetings by the Indian Nations Council of Governments (INCOG) and Carter-Burgess, who along with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers are charged with developing a vision plan for the 42-mile stretch of the Arkansas River running through Tulsa County. Approximately 180 responses were received and over 200 people attended the meetings.

This vision plan will illustrate the stronger central ideas that have come from the community. A subsequent phase under the aegis of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers will then refine those concepts and examine constraints and obstacles to their implementation. The surveys and public meetings allowed area residents the opportunity for input and to make comments about development of future plans for the section of the Arkansas River running from Keystone Dam to the Wagoner County Line.

Additionally, from 5 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. on May 4, 5, and 6, on the first floor of the INCOG offices, 201 W. 5th St. in downtown Tulsa, the public is invited to view drawings and interact with the experts, who will have spent each day translating facts and citizen feedback into plan elements. Officials from Carter-Burgess and INCOG will be available to answer questions and listen to reaction.

When asked what needed to be added to the river area, the top 10 among 31 suggestions among those surveyed:

  1. "Riverfront-oriented" retail shops and restaurants
  2. Enhanced preservation of natural resources
  3. Develop river lakes for recreation, such as rowing, paddling and fishing
  4. Additional trails for hiking, biking, walking and running
  5. An entertainment district
  6. Improved access to public lands along the river
  7. Additional wilderness area and trails
  8. Boardwalks
  9. Additional parking for recreational and festival areas
  10. Improved connections to downtowns
When asked which river-oriented activities and special events are needed, those surveyed ranked 10 activities.
  1. Seasonal festivals, such as the Fourth of July celebration and Octoberfest
  2. Art and music festivals
  3. Tourism-oriented facilities
  4. Music concerts
  5. Shopping and restaurants
  6. Naturalist programs and environmental education
  7. Water sports events, such as rowing and kayaking competitions
  8. Running and biking events
  9. Water parades and raft races
  10. Fishing
Out of the nearly 70 percent of survey respondents who said the frequented the river at least once a month, 38.7 percent said they visited at least once a week. Out of all who were surveyed, 73.4 percent rated safe public access to the river was very important, with less than one percent rating access as not important at all.

In the qualitative area of the survey, respondents were asked to describe "the single most important feature or part of the Arkansas River."

Most said the river's natural beauty winding through several communities that provides attractive views when water is flowing. Most favored thoughtful development that would highlight Tulsa County's most prominent geologic feature, the river, that would blend preservation with commercial activity while protecting flood risk.

Respondents were asked "what do you think is the single most important issue or need concerning the Arkansas River?"

Many thought that cleaning the river's appearance and water quality, produce a comprehensive master plan to maximize the river's benefits to the region and to "start thinking of it as an asset and natural resource to be enhanced and preserved."

Respondents were asked, "If you can please paint a 'word picture' of your vision for the Arkansas River."

There were varied responses, but many can be summarized by one person's vision:

"An evening of dinner and strolling the river's edge, while hearing music in the background and feeling the cool breeze on my face. The morning promises a breathtaking sunrise while I stroll the river for my walk. And I didn't have to go to Oklahoma City."

About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by Michael Bates published on May 4, 2004 1:45 PM.

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