Neighbors Voice Concerns Over Future Of Closed Tulsa Middle School

Tuesday, July 12th 2011, 9:45 pm
By: News On 6

Ashli Sims, News On 6

TULSA, Oklahoma -- Dozens of Tulsans expressed their concerns Tuesday night over the possible sale of their neighborhood middle school.

Tulsa Public Schools hosted a community meeting to discuss the future of Wilson Middle School. People who showed up had two main concerns: they don't want to see the building torn down, but they don't want it to sit vacant either.

7/7/2011 Related Story: Neighbors Fear Closed Tulsa School Sites Will Become Targets For Vandals

The building has stood in its location for more than eight decades. Some residents who live in the neighborhood want to make sure it keeps standing when it's no longer a middle school.

"But I would hope that that original part of the building will be preserved," Steve Stockley said.

Wilson Middle School was closed and declared surplus as part of Tulsa Public Schools consolidation effort to streamline the district.

They asked for bids on the property and only ended up with one from the University of Tulsa, which offered $2 million to add the site to its campus to house academic programs.

Some neighbors are concerned the building may not survive.

"Yes, the University of Tulsa is a wonderful neighbor. But the University of Tulsa knows only two things: wrecking balls and bulldozers," Stockley said.

The district has another consideration: it has invested $3.3 million in bonds in Wilson. That bond money has to be paid back if the building is sold.

The current bid from the University of Tulsa doesn't cover the bond investment, but the district says its free to negotiate with TU or anyone else interested.

"It is important to me that we don't just, ya know, do a fire sale, particularly on some of these buildings that as you point out are beautiful buildings," Anna America, a Tulsa School Board Member, said.

Some would rather see the University of Tulsa buy the property than watch it decline, sitting vacant.

"I think it will be maintained. And I think it would add to our neigbhborhood. My concern is that nothing would happen to the property and it would sit there," one woman said.

"It's only worth what people are willing to pay for it; don't leave it abandoned," John Jolley said.

The Tulsa School Board has the final say. Board members could choose to negotiate with TU or anyone else or they could opt not to sell at all. They have no deadline to make their decision.