Fight Over Development Of Parkland Near Arkansas River Continues
TULSA, Oklahoma - The city is trying to sell a piece of land along the Arkansas River to a big box retail store, but another fight over whether the parkland should be developed is looming.
The land is across the river from Turkey Mountain, and it's already parkland, Helmerich Park.
The section of Helmerich Park that's now volleyball courts is what's at stake - about 12 acres on the north end.
The city believes the land can be carved out and sold without damaging public space, but critics believe plain open space is what it's supposed to be.
Former Tulsa mayor, Terry Young, said, “These sorts of facilities attract people to Tulsa, to move to Tulsa because it has a great quality of life. You don't destroy things of this nature, claiming that they don't do anything to enhance the city's bottom line."
Young is leading a group that started out opposing the sale on principle but is now working on the legalities.
Since the land was bought for parkland, the city needs layers of approval to sell it, but instead is arguing Helmerich Park isn't really a park.
Emory: "It sure looks like a park.”
Young: “It's a park.”
Emory: “But the city says maybe not.”
Young: “It's not.”
When the city bought the park and named it, then city councilor Dewey Bartlett tried to ensure it could not be sold off later.
“Could they do that without the approval of either the city council or the city administration,” he asked.
And while critics wonder why the sentiment changed, they believe the courts will decide the law has not.
"These are ordinances, and they are still the law," Young said.
The mayor's office didn't respond to a request for comment.