On Tuesday, Tulsa County voters will decide if they want to pay a 4/10th of a cent sales tax for improvements to the Arkansas River corridor. News On 6 anchor Scott Thompson reports if the tax is approved, private donors have also pledged to pay for some of the projects.
The county estimates the new sales tax would raise $282 million for river improvements. The biggest investment would be between the banks of the Arkansas. Two new low-water dams in Jenks and Sand Springs, and a replacement of the dam in Tulsa are big-ticket items.
But, the most expensive part of the plan is modifications to the river channel. Ninety million dollars, almost a third of the money raised by the tax, would go toward stabilizing the banks, flood control, and improving habitats for wildlife.
The rest of the money would buy riverside property and pay for development in Bixby, Jenks, Sand Springs and Tulsa.
Bixby stands to receive more than $8 million to improve the Bentley Park Sports Complex and rehab the city's pedestrian bridge.
Sand Springs would get almost triple the money, close to $25 million, for its pedestrian bridge and low-water dam. And artist renderings show the resulting lake in Sand Springs could become a sailboat marina.
Tulsa would get $45 million for a new downtown connection, and two new double-decked pedestrian bridges planned across the river at 41st and 61st Streets.
If the tax passes, private groups have pledged another $117 million to improve Riverparks by adding fountains, fixing restrooms and improving safety and security.
QuikTrip is one of those private donors. The company will build a $5 million public park at 41st and Riverside, with a new playground, a manmade stream and a deck overlooking the river. Other donors, like BOK's George Kaiser, would give money to widen the river trails, improve existing parks and picnic areas, and build boardwalks and fishing piers. Another $5 million of the private money has been pledged to go toward parks and pools in low-income neighborhoods away from the river, like North Tulsa.
The river plan would add 4/10ths of a cent to sales taxes countywide for the next seven years. That would push the tax rate in Tulsa, Broken Arrow, Collinsville, Jenks, Owasso and Skiatook to 8.917%. Bixby and Sand Springs would pay 9.417% and Glenpool would be paying close to 9.917%.