Owasso Restoration Project Connects City's Past With Its Future

Friday, October 29th 2010, 3:38 pm
By: News On 6

Craig Day, News On 6

OWASSO, Oklahoma -- Many Oklahomans love it when small towns restore the old buildings in their downtown districts.

But what if they don't have any old buildings left to restore? One fast growing Tulsa suburb wants to recreate some of its small town charm.

As one of Oklahoma's fastest growing towns, there's a lot going on in Owasso. Restaurants, retail, people coming and going.

But downtown, there's a big time slow down. There are some businesses, but other than the historical society museum, Owasso doesn't have any old historic downtown buildings left.

But downtown was once a bustling place; the center of commerce.

"There was an old bank building. There was an ice dock and a feed mill, that sort of thing," said Marcia Boutwell, Museum Director.

"There were some old buildings that were here, that we really wanted to rebuild," Rodney Ray, Owasso City Manager, said.

So that's what the town is doing. Owasso wants to revive some of that old town feel from scratch, starting with recreating a 1928 service station that once stood downtown.

Marcia Boutwell at the museum loves the idea.

"I think it's great," she said. "It's just something brings the present and the past together."

Not only is it combining the past with the present, the service station project would also be about the future. Private donations would pay for property on Main Street and a $1.7 million federal grant would recreate the old station, which would become a natural gas fill station open to the public.

"To both rebuild Main Street using an Oklahoma based alternative fuel and it just seemed like the perfect thing for us to do, and it's coming along real well," Ray said.

City Manager Rodney Ray said the new-old station would be the first step in an overall plan to eventually re-create old buildings all along Main Street.

"I don't think it's a short term dream, it's a long term dream, but we believe once we believe once we get started, it's going to catch fire, like a prairie fire," he said.

As part of the federal grant, Owasso would convert 50 city vehicles to CNG, helping the environment, saving the city money in fuel costs and getting the ball rolling to return the old time feel and character to downtown.

"It's going to be I think a wonderful opportunity for us to show people what Oklahoma was like just after the turn of the century," Ray said.

If enough private funds are raised to buy the property, construction could begin on the service station project this next spring.