When money talks, people listen. Sixteen private groups led by the Kaiser Family Foundation agreed to donate almost $111 million of their own money to river development. Tulsa County citizens would have to pay for the roughly $269 million remaining. Tulsa Mayor Kathy Taylor says the 4/10ths sales tax passed in the Vision 2025 project could be used to pay for the development. The money was earmarked to lure Boeing to Tulsa, but the company went elsewhere.
"They passed that 4/10ths of a cent before, but I think this is even better, because this money stays here for generations and generations," Tulsa Mayor Kathy Taylor said. "It's time. It's time to develop this river and it will have a return on its investment for us."
Ultimately, Tulsa County voters will decide. If the voters approve the project, then getting from one side of the river to the other will be much easier. Part of the project would connect the east and west banks of the river with two new pedestrian bridges at 41st Street and 61st Street. Public funds would pay for the construction. The plan would also create five new gathering spots on the east side of the river; all paid for by the private donations.
Mayor Taylor says the plan would move Tulsa out of the past and into the future.
"In the past century, the oil industry supplied the energy that fueled Tulsa's economy. But I'm going to tell you today, the water flowing down that river represents the next source of energy that will fuel our economy," said Mayor Taylor.
Tulsa County voters could decide on the project as early as this October. County leaders say they're confident voters will approve the plan. To learn more about the Arkansas River Project, click here.