Tulsa Vision 2025: September 2006 Archives

"Urban Husbandry" or island wizardry?


This week's column in Urban Tulsa Weekly is about The Channels proposal to dam the Arkansas River and build three islands in the middle of it, at a cost to the taxpayers of $600 million. I suggest that the $100 million in private funds could be used more effectively using Roberta Brandes Gratz's "Urban Husbandry" strategy -- identifying positive signs of urban life and building on those, rather than trying to create something out of nothing with one big Project Plan.

And over on The Voice of Tulsa forum, I've posted another topic related to river development: When you say you want river development, what exactly are you after? You're invited to click the link and speak your mind.

Bing Thom iddle-eye-po?*

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Anyone else think it's curious that Bing Thom, the architect/urban design consultant consulted by Tulsa Stakeholders, Inc., in the development of "The Channels" plan, hasn't been heard from in connection with last week's unveiling or since?

For something like this, it's typical to parade the designer around town and make him available for interviews and a press conference. For example, Cesar Pelli came to Tulsa to promote his design for the new downtown arena. Why do you suppose that sort of thing hasn't happened for this project?

Has this become an Alan Smithee project?

* Sorry for the title, but I've been listening to The Goon Show rather a lot lately, and the architect's name fits nicely into a novelty song and catch phrase of theirs.

Just received, over the transom, a copy of the weekly report of Rodney Ray, City Manager for Owasso, to the Mayor and City Council of the City of Owasso, dated September 1, 2006. Here is an excerpt:


The long rumored Tulsa River Project, championed by the Warren Foundation, has been announced by a story in the Tulsa World. Mayor Cataudella and I recently met with the project’s proponents for a discussion of the project (meetings were held with all Tulsa County Mayors and City Mangers). The project is ambitious and uses about $500 to $600 million dollars in public funding as a basis for construction of the necessary infrastructure (an additional $500 to $700 million dollars of private investment in office building, residential space, and retail is planned in addition to the initial investment). The proposed initial funding for the project consists of a private-public sector partnership of which $100 million dollars would come from private donors and approximately $500 million dollars from a proposed 4/10th of a penny sales tax that Tulsa County voters would be asked to approve.

As this proposal is more fully discussed, there are several issues that will become the focus of those discussions. Those issues are predicted to be: 1) Corps of Engineers participation and permitting (it appears that the Corps input to date is minimal, but a briefing with Corps officials is scheduled for next week), 2) Coordination of the three separate River Planning Projects currently underway (the study funded by a ten million dollar gift from George Kaiser, the Vision 2025 River Masterplan done by INCOG, and the Warren Foundation Planning Project), 3) River flow issues on the Arkansas River as they will affect navigations, 4) A substantial amount of the project funded through sales tax; and, 5) the economic impact of Tulsa and regional communities.

There will be numerous meetings, thousands of dollars paid to consultants, and tons of paperwork generated over the next few months; but, the final decision will be left to the voters. The project’s proponents want the County Commission to call for a special election in December to decide the public funding question. However, others are counseling the County Commission against calling such an election before critical decisions can be made regarding fundamental development issues. It should be noted, that if the County Commission decides to call for a December sales tax election, that action would have to be taken in an October Commission meeting (only giving the Commission the month of September to have basic questions and concerns addressed).

As the discussion relating to this proposal develops, I will keep you informed.

The Channels


Over at The Voice of Tulsa forum, I've just posted a topic to gather reaction to the unveiling of The Channels, the $700 million plan to dam the Arkansas River. Head over there, read my brief take on the topic, and weigh in with your comments.

UPDATE: Chris Medlock was at the unveiling and reports that there's no point in trying to change "The Channels." The project is already in "educate" and "persuade" mode. He says that there were twice as many negative questions from the assembled multitude as positive.

In earlier entries, Chris correctly read the portents and omens of County Commissioner Randi "Ado Annie" Miller wading in the Arkansas River for a Tulsa Whirled photo and had some reliable inside info on the proposal ahead of the Whirled's "scoop".

David Schuttler asks "Are you willing to give up this view?" and he offers some video from the Mayoral campaign, reminding us of what Kathy Taylor and Randi Miller said about taxes and the river when they were seeking our votes.

Paul Romine asks if this is welfare for the wealthy:

Here's an idea, spend your own money! quit soaking the population for you little whims, you got your arena, and we are going to pay for it in more ways than one, the river is not for you to hijack, like you hijacked "the people's vision".

And finally, here's the official website for The Channels. Not much substance yet, but there is this from today's press release:

Estimated to require $600 million in some form of public financing, the group committed to raise $100 million as a gift from the private sector to the Tulsa region. Through the sale of energy created by the project’s hydrodam and other renewable energies, an additional $88 million dollars can be financed, for a total of $788 million.

$600 million is about 20 years of a 0.4% county sales tax -- I'm assuming that they will go after the sales tax that was approved for Boeing's 7E7 plant, but which never went into effect.

Rather than have you wait for me to moderate your comments, you'll find an environment more conducive to give and take at The Voice of Tulsa -- post your comments there. Registration is free and easy.

AND MORE: Chris Medlock counts the skyscrapers in the Channels marketing video and wonders about the market viability of all that new space.

About this Archive

This page is a archive of entries in the Tulsa Vision 2025 category from September 2006.

Tulsa Vision 2025: May 2006 is the previous archive.

Tulsa Vision 2025: January 2007 is the next archive.

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