Complaints Begin After Tulsa Amusement Park's Lease Isn't Renewed

Saturday, November 11th 2006, 2:12 pm
By: News On 6

TULSA, Okla. (AP) Tulsa County's decision not to renew a long-standing lease with an amusement park is causing some members of the public to voice their displeasure.

Bell's Amusement Park has been a fixture at Expo Square on the Tulsa County Fairgrounds for 51 years. But Rick Bjorklund, Expo Square's president and chief executive officer, recommended to the county's fair board that the park's lease not be renewed.

Bjorklund said he's only received five phone calls about the subject since the decision was announced earlier this week. But the park's president, Robby Bell, said he's received hundreds of e-mail messages and phone calls from people who are upset, as has the Tulsa World.

The newspaper reported Saturday that most of the messages it has received are critical of the decision and that many callers and e-mailers expressed sentimental feelings about the park.

``Bell's is real good for Tulsa. It's got history,'' said one caller, Mike Hernandez.

Another, Barbara Dunn of Tulsa, is upset there's not more of an outcry about the issue.

``I'm unhappy because there's no reaction,'' she said. ``I work in a large office, and everyone here just thinks that they should be left alone and let them stay there, or Expo Square can move.''

The World said it received two e-mails from outside Oklahoma about the subject. One, from Wendy Reck of Denver, called the decision ``a disgrace'' and wondered if Tulsa had become the kind of town in which ``a hard working pillar of the community can be thrown out on a whim.''

Not all messages are critical of the decision, though, the newspaper said. One writer said he hoped the park would move to Jenks, a Tulsa suburb.

Bjorklund said that he must consider more than messages from upset community members.

``We're not in a process like the one that elects the next 'American Idol,' where phone messages determine public policy,'' he said. ``We are following the logical conclusion to an expired lease and willing to explore requests by Bell's.''