Tulsa City Leaders Get Earful From Berryhill Residents On Annexation Proposal

Wednesday, August 24th 2011, 10:02 pm
By: News On 6

Lacie Lowry, News On 6

TULSA, Oklahoma -- For the first time, residents of Berryhill were able to voice annexation concerns to Tulsa city leaders.

The city wants to expand its limits west, but met a wall of opposition at a public meeting Wednesday night.

Wednesday's meeting started with potential fire service issues if the area is annexed. Berryhill is proud of its fire department and many want it left alone.

Around 100 people packed the Chandler Park Community Center and the majority wants Berryhill to stay untouched by Tulsa. 

"We don't need, we don't want and we don't care for anything to do with the city of Tulsa from here on out," A Berryhill resident told city leaders.

The Tulsa Fire Department would cover Berryhill if it's annexed, which would cost the city $1 million a year.

"I believe we'll have at least equal to or better fire protection if the city of Tulsa is our fire department," said another Berryhill resident.

However, part of Berryhill's current service area is larger than the area that could be annexed.

Tulsa's chief Allen LaCroix believes fire coverage fees that residents currently pay could be paid to bigger cities instead for fire service.

And what about the few paid Berryhill firefighters? Tulsa would need a 4-man truck to cover the annexed area.

"I can guarantee the members that are paid members of the Berryhill fire department, if annexed within the city of Tulsa, would become members of the Tulsa fire department," said Tulsa Fire Chief Allen LaCroix.

Tulsa has already spent $12 million outside the current city limits on the Gilcrease expressway and wants to protect its investment. The first step to do that is annex a 300-foot wide line around the highway.

"The city of Tulsa is committed to putting its match and federal highway dollars toward the Gilcrease expressway," said Ken Hill, Tulsa Public Works.

The second step could be full annexation. Tulsa is rushing to beat a November 1st deadline, when a new state law takes effect making annexation much more difficult.

"Why can't we have that opportunity to vote and put this off until November 1st and give us that, we want that respect," A Berryhill resident told Tulsa city leaders.

The city council has scheduled a public hearing at 6 p.m. on Thursday, September 1st to discuss annexing a fence line around the Berryhill area.

8/23/2011 Related Story: Questions Raised Over West Tulsa Annexation Proposal