Bartlesville Business Frustrated Over Downtown Remodel Progress

Friday, August 30th 2013, 3:47 pm
By: News On 6

Property owners in downtown Bartlesville are wondering why a remodeling project is five years past due. Voters approved the million dollar plan in 2008 but it hasn't even been started.

"We own the property and the building right back here, it's called the M&M Building which is currently occupied by Jay's Automotive," said Joel Rabin.

Joel Rabin owns two pieces of property in downtown Bartlesville. Both sit along a tree lined street just a few blocks from the picturesque downtown.

"To us this is the heart of the city, let's treat it as such," said Joel Rabin.

Rabin is frustrated because a city project to improve 2nd Street and Dewey Avenue has been on hold for five years.

Voters passed a half-penny sales tax in 2008. It raised more than a million dollars to improve the lighting and landscape on close to six city blocks.

Rabin says the city is dragging its feet and playing politics with a project that is desperately needed.

"No offense to Bartlesville but very often things like this are handled behind closed doors and sometimes that works. This is something, a good number of the downtown business and property owners feel, should be dealt with publicly," said Joel Rabin.

"I don't know what happened before 2010, I wasn't here," said Chris Wilson.

Chris Wilson is director of the Bartlesville Redevelopment Trust Authority, the organization in charge of the project. He says the city passed the 2008 sales tax to go along with a privately funded proposal that would remodel 360 planter beds across downtown.

Wilson says there's no conspiracy for the delay; these kinds of private-public partnerships take time.

"It is a big project, it is a involved project so it's not an easy, quick project but it's something that everybody can participate in and be happy with," said Chris Wilson.

Rabin says too much time has passed and just wants the project to move forward.

"We don't want a battle, we want them to go on with it and just get on with it and don't want any backroom deals, just let's do it," said Joel Rabin.

Chris Wilson says the city is planning to have public hearings in September to hear from two landscape consultants being considered for the project.