Supporters of the Arkansas River tax opened a north Tulsa campaign office on Wednesday. It comes after some north Tulsa leaders blasted the tax campaign for neglecting the city's black community. The News On 6's Steve Berg reports that new office also comes with a new promise. Tulsa Mayor Kathy Taylor announced that $5 million of the $117 million in private money will go toward parks and pools in distressed areas.
Mayor Kathy Taylor says the idea came out of the gang summits that have been held over the past couple of years. In the summits a need was expressed for more recreational areas in lower income neighborhoods with high juvenile crime rates.
"And as a result of that, they said well here's one way you can address it, you can dedicate $5 million of this to the issues that you've identified, parks and pools, in targeted areas," Tulsa Mayor Kathy Taylor said.
Exactly which parks would get a share of the $5 million has not been determined, but the mayor says north Tulsa would be part of it.
"A significant number of those parks that were ID'd are in the North Tulsa community," said Taylor.
One of the concerns of the River Plan opponents is that north Tulsa would not directly benefit from the plan, and City Councilor Jack Henderson, who was part of a demonstration across the street from the new office opening, remained skeptical about the news of the $5 million.
"To me, that's broken promises, because those promises have been made before," Tulsa City Councilor Jack Henderson said. "How long will we sit back and just keep listening to the same thing?"
The News On 6 asked what would need to happen before Henderson would support a River Project, he said north side leaders have not been consulted enough on the river plans.
"Include everybody like you did on Vision 2025," Henderson said.
Henderson and other north side leaders are also upset about the appointment of Police Chief Ron Palmer, but Senator Judy Eason-McIntyre, who supports the river plan, says the problem with the chief should not have a bearing on the river.
"And how do you separate it, I don't know, because I feel like they do in terms of the chief, but I also support this, and I'm going to stand for this whether people get mad or not," said Senator Judy Eason-McIntyre.
It costs around $300,000 per year to operate the 13 public pools. So theoretically, the $5 million could go a long way.