City Of Catoosa Working On Plans To Develop Property At Old Welcome Center Location
By Emory Bryan, The News On 6
CATOOSA, OK -- The City of Catoosa is looking at developing a piece of property that isn't used for much right now. Some of it is land that was abandoned by the state.
A tornado flattened a welcome center on the land, and then a change in the turnpike cut off a mile long piece of highway. There's a thought the spot at the Hwy 66 / 412 junction could boost Catoosa's economy.
It's mostly empty, near a major tourist attraction and several highways, and divided between just a few owners.
"There's all kinds of possibilities for the land out there," said Mayor Rita Lamkin, Catoosa.
The Catoosa Economic Development Authority agrees and decided this week to set up a coalition of government and private land owners to pursue development.
"It makes more sense for government to work together," said Steve Gray, a land owner.
The land was raked over by a 1993 tornado that demolished a state welcome center - after a trail of destruction through Catoosa that killed seven people.
Then a more than mile long section of turnpike was abandoned when the highway was rerouted.
What's left is a massive section of land, owned by government and citizens who are willing to work together.
"Always interested in economic development and progress," said Joe Robinson, a land owner.
One possibility for the old welcome center location is a new City of Catoosa recreation center that has already been designed.
"We can't go much further until we find the land. In my view, that piece out there is the perfect place," said Mayor Lamkin.
The recreation center idea would require city annexation, and any other development would depend on business deciding to invest at the site.
Catoosa's leaders are sure something can happen on the spot now that everyone is agreeing to work together.
The next step will be meetings for the new coalition to decide on goals. A study by INCOG found the land has significant development potential if it's kept together.