Tulsa's New Arkansas River Infrastructure Task Force Holds First Meeting

Thursday, December 12th 2013, 6:58 pm
By: News On 6

An unlikely supporter is throwing his support behind a new plan to fill the Arkansas River through Tulsa with water.

The dry riverbed has been blamed for draining business away from a potential hot spot.

The new Tulsa City Council River Infrastructure Task Force Committee met for the first time Thursday.

"One of the reasons why we haven't been successful in the past, is because we didn't have a proposal that was brought forward that had public participation and was well defined," said chairman of the committee, Councilor GT Bynum.

12/2/2013 Related Story: 'There Will Be Water In The River,' Promises Tulsa Mayor Dewey Bartlett

A Channels project, a development on islands in the river from 2006, sank. A "Hands Across the River" event with young professionals showing support for a county-wide tax vote in 2007, and another one last year--they failed, too. It had enough support to get on the ballot, but not enough public support to pass.

So, representatives at this first meeting spent much of the time discussing what groups and communities should be added to the committee or at least heard from.

"For something like this to work, you have to be inclusive," said Councilor Jack Henderson.

They plan to find the people who were against the project before, and see if there's a way to change their minds.

There might be some mild surprise that even Councilor Henderson is on board this time. This is the first time he's been for the city spending money to put water in the river.

"Any proposal that comes out of this will have extensive public participation and be very specific," Bynum said.

Bynum cited the "Gathering Place" project and the Margaritaville development further south as the kinds of investments that could transform the Arkansas River from sand bars to waterfront from one end of Tulsa County to the other.

The task force wants a draft proposal completed by next spring. Then, you'll get to have your say in a series of public forums, to help sculpt the final plan.