Tulsans Discuss Ideas For Next Vision Sales Tax Package

Friday, August 7th 2015, 6:14 pm
By: Emory Bryan

Tulsa's next vision sales tax package could lay out plans to spend $600 million. And while the city is soliciting new ideas on what to do, some would like to see the city use ideas everyone has already agreed on.

Ten years ago, the city finalized a plan developed from countless public meetings about the direction of the city.

The result - called PlaniTulsa - was a guide to development that does the most good.

Things like better public transit topped the list, with specific projects like redeveloping Union Depot into a transit hub downtown. It's that list, that some people think should guide spending from the vision tax.

"If they start there, I don't think they can mess it up,” Bill Leighty said.

Leighty heads a group called Smart Growth Tulsa. He wants the next vision package to follow the comprehensive plan.

“We really think transportation is that needle mover, the thing that could take Tulsa to the next level,” Leighty said.

7/23/2015 Related Story: Revised Plan For Low Water Dams Would Be More 'Tulsa Focused'

The city is taking suggestions for how to spend the money from anyone with an idea. Some match the goals of the existing plan, some don't. And there's another item almost certain to be in the vision plan -- a major river package to rebuild the low-water dam and build two new ones.

Planning advocate Carlos Moreno points out the plan doesn't call for that.

“There's almost no mention of the river at all,” Moreno said. “I think Tulsans generally like the river as it is, it's a prairie river. It's not meant to be full all the time.

The city council and mayor made it a priority to keep water in the river but the cost of a massive project like that pushes most other needs far down the list.

"You don't see a lot of that in the comprehensive plan, you see stronger neighborhoods, more public transportation,” Moreno said.

Arkansas River Task Force chairman G.T. Bynum says river development is a priority, but ultimately it will compete with everything else.

"We haven't set out any designated any portion for the river or economic development,” Bynum said. “These are all things we're looking at holistically as we go forward."

Leighty and his group have an alternative that calls for rebuilding the one dam but leaving off the others - to make room for other projects from PlaniTulsa.