Tulsa River Development Hinging On One Key Thing: Water

Tuesday, October 29th 2013, 6:33 pm
By: News On 6

Stakeholders are fueling a renewed push to develop the Arkansas River. They're looking for the best ideas from other riverside cities. Leaders say there's one key that would lead to an explosion of river development: water.

From above the Arkansas River in Osage SkyNews 6 you can easily see where there is water and where there isn't.

District 2 Commissioner Karen Keith is excited about what's ahead. There is $700 million in private development coming between what the Creek Nation and the George Kaiser Family Foundation have planned. Those two developments will put us on the map as a river destination, she said.

10/15/2013 Related Story: Creek Nation Breaks Ground On Margaritaville Expansion At River Spirit Casino

"It's going to be extraordinary," Keith said. "What we need is a little water in the river."

Tom Dittus, owner of the Blue Rose Cafe that sits on the river at 21st Street, couldn't agree more.

"It's very inconsistent, when we have water and when we don't," he said.

Dittus said he understands the red tape and all that's involved in having a regular flow of water, but it does seem to be a slow process.

"I got to Tulsa 24 years ago this week, and they were talking about water in the river back then, too," he said.

Karen Keith was part of a delegation of Tulsans public and private that went to see what riverfront development looks like in Pittsburgh.

Oklahoma City is a closer-to-home example of what a little water running through it can do for development. Commissioner Keith said the private side of the equation has stepped up, and she believes the public sector is finally ready.

"We need to put in the low water dams, and then you're going to see an explosion of things happen after that," Keith said.