'Not In My Back Yard' Tulsa Councilor On Proposed Site For Juvenile Justice Center

Friday, September 25th 2015, 6:32 pm
By: Emory Bryan

A north Tulsa city councilor objects to possibly locating a new Juvenile Justice Center at 36th Street North and MLK.

It’s a piece of undeveloped land across the street from the entrance to Saint Simeon's, a community for senior citizens.

The land is already under contract for the site, but it's not a done deal.

The site has 57 acres of wooded and open land on a hilltop just north of downtown. It's one of the better spots backers of a new Juvenile Justice Center said they've found - but representatives of the neighborhood hope they find something else.

“Not in my backyard,” said Tulsa City Councilor, Jack Henderson. “I've never said that as a politician, but I'm saying it this time. Not in my backyard. We've got too many social service agencies already.”

Henderson believes it would disrupt plans for other developments nearby that are finally beginning to get traction.

"And a center like that would hurt what we're trying to do; and for someone to not be able to see that, I just don't understand it," he said.

The current Juvenile Justice Center is on Gilcrease Museum Road by Highway 412. It's a courthouse for young people who get into trouble not serious enough to land them in jail.

The children held there have an average stay of three to five days.

County Commissioner Karen Keith helped pick the site, but said she's heard plenty about what's wrong with it.

“The community needs to speak for itself, and we're hearing them,” Keith said.

She's urging the community to have patience, and hear the plan they're developing.

"We'd really like to share that vision and integrate that vision with what the community has in mind. We'd really like that opportunity,” she said.

But Henderson said he's already decided the center on that site would hold north Tulsa back.

“Throw it in north Tulsa, they'll take anything. Not this time," he said.

Keith said the committee working on site selection will meet next week and could decide to stay put or move on.

She said they're eager to have people hear them out before rejecting the location outright.