Audubon Society weighs in on The Channels


In today's Whirled, John Kennington, president of the Tulsa Audubon Society, writes, in a letter to the editor, that there are studies that have not yet been done, but ought to be done before putting funding for The Channels to a vote of the people:

The Tulsa Audubon Society is concerned about the impact of The Channels on wildlife and river habitats, especially least terns and bald eagles. TAS serves on the Arkansas River Advisory Committee, which has received answers to its environmental concerns.

Because of those answers we cannot endorse this project. There are too many unknowns, assumptions and guesses about specific design elements and costs....

The studies and modeling needed to develop detailed plans and cost estimates are all scheduled after the design phase, after the proposed election. The detailed groundwater model will take nine months, so a February vote will be based on optimistic guesses. It has been stated that "researching flow volume and cost to validate our order of magnitude costs" are still being studied.

Emphasis added -- when Kennington quotes The Channels' backers as saying they need to validate their "order of magnitude costs," they aren't talking about the difference between $788 million and $888 million, they're talking about the difference between $788 million and $1.6 billion or more. At the public hearing at OSU-Tulsa last month, it was argued that the Tulsa Stakeholders had done their homework, they had the best experts in the world studying this, and we should stop complaining and trust them. It's apparent now that the concerns raised at that hearing hadn't been considered at all -- e.g., the impact of rising river levels on groundwater levels in the surrounding neighborhoods.

Last week, the Brookside Neighborhood Association and the Coalition of Historic Neighborhoods hosted a forum about The Channels that focused on dialogue rather than slick presentations. According to the Whirled's story, the group identified four things they liked about the islands-in-the-stream proposal and two pages' worth of things they didn't like.

I hope that the Tulsa Stakeholders are beginning to realize that their plan isn't going to move forward for a long time, if ever. Perhaps they can begin looking at alternative ways to spend that $100 million, where strategic, positive things can be accomplished without the public expense and logistical problems involved in The Channels' proposal.

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This page contains a single entry by Michael Bates published on November 19, 2006 7:20 PM.

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