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City, Park Supporters Negotiating Possible Settlement In Helmerich Park Lawsuit

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The City agreed to sell the corner of 71st and Riverside to a developer - that's what's in court - but the council is acting to make sure something like that couldn't happen again. The City agreed to sell the corner of 71st and Riverside to a developer - that's what's in court - but the council is acting to make sure something like that couldn't happen again.
Susan Miller with INCOG. Susan Miller with INCOG.
TULSA, Oklahoma -

Tulsa's Mayor spent the day negotiating a possible settlement in a lawsuit over Helmerich Park.

The mediation isn't over after an all-day session between the City of Tulsa and a group trying to save Helmerich Park from any development.

The City agreed to sell the corner of 71st and Riverside to a developer - that's what's in court - but the council is acting to make sure something like that couldn't happen again.

The courts will now determine what happens with the corner of 71st and Riverside - the northern end of Helmerich Park. The City agreed to sell it to a developer who planned to build a REI store, but, a lawsuit by some park lovers stopped it, now the two sides are in mediation to try to settle without a trial.

4/26/2016 Related Story: Plans For Tulsa's Helmerich Park Addressed In News Conference

Meanwhile, city planners developed a new kind of zoning for Tulsa called the "River Design Overlay" that sets up new restrictions on what can happen along the Arkansas River.

While the land in dispute isn't affected now, the City has carved out the rest of the park and applied the special zoning.

Susan Miller with INCOG said, "That's actually just the area around the existing park, the improved park, where there's the playground, and, I guess it will protect the park and that was the intention when it came up last fall, and apply the RDO-1, the park designation to it."

It's the section of Helmerich with volleyball courts that's in dispute - the new protections are the 25 acres south of there, all the way down to some apartments.

It does allow the City to make some park-style improvements, but that's it.

Miller said, "It envisioned sort of a lighter touch, as far as development, and only development accessory to the park - nothing of a grand scale - and the park remains the predominant use."

The two sides aren't talking about what came out of the mediation Wednesday, if anything. They have to report their progress to a judge otherwise, it would go to trial this summer.

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