Family: June 2010 Archives

Way back in the first week of BatesLine's existence, I posted photos of Midwest City's doomed Tinker Plaza shopping center. Downtown on the Range has photos of and commentary on the new-urbanist Midwest City Town Center that took its place.

Tyson and Jeane Wynn have posted their 50th WynnCast, covering, among other things, their hometown of Welch, Oklahoma, and the news site they run to help keep their friends and neighbors informed. They also talk about the upcoming Christy awards for Christian fiction and three books that they've publicized (book publicity is their main line of work) that have been nominated.

This Land Press reports on some of the classy items for sale at the Tulsa World's online auction site. Another piece from the inaugural print edition is now online: A story by Michael Mason on the way the City of Tulsa's handles (or mishandles) the land it owns. He wonders whether it's time to put all the surplus land on the auction block. And Erin Fore has a fascinating account of her day volunteering at a Norman soup kitchen.

OCPA reports that the private-sector share of Oklahoma's personal income has dropped to an all-time low -- 62% -- thanks in large part to the Federal stimulus package. Oklahoma's private-sector proportion is about 6 percentage points below the national number, a gap that has been fairly constant over the last two decades.

The Tulsa Parks and Recreation master plan is online on the Tulsa Parks website. You can download the Tulsa Parks master plan executive summary or the entire Tulsa Parks master plan.

Speaking of parks, here are some photos from the 1970s of the Bruce Goff Playtower in Bartlesville's Sooner Park. I remember climbing this as a kid. These pictures also show (albeit not well) the Möbius Strip climbing frame that used to sit at its base; I remember watching Dad work his way around the Möbius Strip many years ago. (You held on to the top rail and put your feet on the bottom rail on the outside. As you worked your way around, keeping your hands and feet on their respective rails, you would wind up on the inside and upside down.) There's a Facebook cause to fund the Goff Playtower's restoration.

INCOG has updated the map of municipal boundaries in the Tulsa metro area. It's striking how many cities straddle county lines. Eventually Owasso and Broken Arrow will have at least half its population and land area in a county other than Tulsa County. The same could be true of Sand Springs and Sperry. It appears that Skiatook is already mainly in Osage County and has plenty of room to grow in that direction. Tulsa will always be mainly in Tulsa County, but the city has significant territory in Osage, Rogers, and Wagoner County; meanwhile the seat of Creek County has a foothold in Tulsa County. Only a few pockets of land are not within any municipality's fenceline; a rather significant area lies between Tulsa and Sand Springs and includes the unincorporated settlement of Berryhill. The municipal disregard for county lines suggests that county government is not the right framework for regional cooperation to provide government services, but rather some sort of federation of municipalities.

Irritated Tulsan has an important fountain drink etiquette reminder for QT cheap drink season.

When you've been away from blogging for almost a week, it's hard to know where to begin again.

We returned Thursday night from a week-long family vacation in Branson. We spent several days at Silver Dollar City, visited Branson Landing one night, went to the Butterfly Palace, and swam in the pool most days. They were long full days, and what little time I had on the computer (after the kids were finally in bed) was mainly spent handling emails from work.

I was happy to learn that the Wagoner County Commission voted to rescind their call for a special election for a quarter-cent sales tax to build a county fairgrounds, an animal shelter, and a location that would be leased to Bell's Amusement Park. While I very much want to see Bell's up and running again, a tax increase is not the right way to make it happen. There are better approaches, such as tax increment financing, that wouldn't add to the taxpayers' burden. In addition, there were concerns about vague terms in the lease, a lack of financial numbers for the cost to operate the fairgrounds, and the lack of public discussion prior to putting the tax issue on the July primary ballot.

The two county commissioners who voted to rescind the election deserve credit for backing down in the face of the public's concerns, for choosing to put together a better plan rather than trying to force a bad plan down the taxpayers' throats. Here in Tulsa County, the likely reaction to public qualms would have been to pour more money into the "vote yes" ad campaign -- full steam ahead into the iceberg -- and then blame the public for voting it down.

A classic family amusement park would certainly bring people and dollars into Wagoner County. We just dropped a pile of money in Branson because of Silver Dollar City. We spent money at the park and in town, buying meals at restaurants, groceries, souvenirs, and gas. Last fall, during a visit to SDC, we bought season passes for 2010 because the park offers fun for everyone in our family. While we love the Bartlesville Kiddie Park, our oldest has outgrown all but a few of the rides and our middle child is close to that point. Were there an amusement park close to home, I imagine we would still visit SDC once a year, but probably wouldn't buy an SDC season pass.


The Looper, Knoebels Amusement Resort

Last summer, during our vacation in Pennsylvania and Delaware, we drove three hours each way to spend a day at Knoebels Amusement Resort, a family-owned amusement park in central Pennsylvania that first opened in 1926. Knoebels is not a theme park, but a collection of rides that grew over time -- now more than 50 that range from kiddie rides to two giant roller coasters. Knoebels began as a country retreat, shaded picnic grounds, swimming hole, campground, and cabins, and all those elements are still present, mixed in with the rides. I remember thinking how nice it would be if a resurrected Bell's was in a shady rural setting.


The Flyer, Knoebels Amusement Resort

A TIF may be the right approach for providing infrastructure for a new Bell's Amusement Park, particularly if the TIF can be structured, like Bixby's Regal Plaza/Spirit Bank Event Center deal, so that taxpayers are not put at risk. As an attraction with the potential to attract visitors from beyond Oklahoma's borders, a new location for Bell's might qualify for state tax incentives, too.

I hope to see Bell's up and running soon. I wish the Bell family and Wagoner County officials all success in finding a way to move forward that doesn't involve raising the tax rate.

MORE: Here's a PDF of the lease agreement between Wagoner County and Bell's.

About this Archive

This page is a archive of entries in the Family category from June 2010.

Family: April 2010 is the previous archive.

Family: July 2010 is the next archive.

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