Plans are flowing again for improvements on the Arkansas River. A big announcement is expected Thursday from a coalition of city and business leaders. Sources tell The News On 6 those leaders will propose a combination of public and private funds to improve the infrastructure in and around the river. We're told that the Kaiser Foundation is leading the way on this effort, and might expand on the $12.5 million gift they announced in February. News On 6 business reporter Steve Berg reports it's possible they'll ask the public to help out as well.
Polls consistently show that the river is one of the top, if not the top choice, by the public for development and improvements. But development plans to this point have stalled or are still pending.
Oilman and Bank of Oklahoma owner George Kaiser has taken a keen personal interest in river development through his Kaiser Family Foundation, and he's stressed the need to have consistent water flows in the river to attract private development. The Kaiser Foundation already pledged more than $12 million to revamp and widen the trail system, and it's believed the foundation and others from the private sector are prepared to expand on that gift significantly.
But what about the public?
There has been talk about a four-tenths of a cent sales tax being presented to voters, and billing it as a replacement for the four-tenths of a cent that was approved by voters in the Vision plan to lure Boeing's 787 factory to Tulsa. Boeing never brought the plant here, so that four-tenths was never collected. But even then some thought the money would be better spent on the river anyway.
So is that sentiment still there?
They might be testing those waters on Thursday. Sources tell The News On 6 that infrastructure improvements would set the stage for any private development on the river.
The city owned land from 11th to 21st Street on the west bank is a prime spot and has attracted the interest of at least one private group. But the city's economic development department says they have not approved any particular developer for that spot.
If you'd like to know more about possible river development tune in Thursday to Six in the Morning during the 6 o'clock hour. We'll have a special guest who can talk about the plan in detail.