What Is Next For 'The Channels'

Wednesday, September 27th 2006, 10:13 am
By: News On 6

Tulsa County voters could decide as soon as next spring whether another sales tax might be used to build projects along the Arkansas River.

The effort to inform people about the ideas on the table so far is underway. News on 6 reporter Emory Bryan explains.

It was a capacity crowd Wednesday, large even for Tulsa's biggest Rotary Club. It is an indication of just how how much interest there is in making the Arkansas River into something that will turn around Tulsa.

"Tulsa must once again be counted as a vibrant city, we must stop the erosion of our tax base and the inability to pay for basic things like streets police officers and schools."

Wednesday’s presentation about 'The Channels' project, to put islands in the river, is just one of more than a hundred already done or planned by Tulsa Stakeholders, the group that came up with 'The Channels' idea.

Tom Cooper with Tulsa Stakeholders: "The more time we talk to people about this project and answer their questions, the more they like it, so it's good."

Right now, there are dozens of public presentations planned on 'The Channels' project. The next step is the possible amendment of the official plan for the Arkansas River. If that happens, Tulsa County will create a funding package to pay for it and it would then go to a vote.

The main pitch for the project is that young people drive the economy and that 'The Channels' would help attract them to Tulsa.

According to Tulsa Stakeholders, 53 other American cities have recently or plan to soon develop their riverfront, and if Tulsa doesn't, the city will be left behind. Tom Cooper: "They're competing for our talent and we've got to compete, we don't have the option of not competing."

Next Tuesday at OSU-Tulsa, there will be a meeting to talk about changing the master plan for the Arkansas River to include ‘The Channels’ project. If it's adopted, it is going to get 'The Channels' moving on the way to the ballot box, probably along with a much broader plan to develop more of the Arkansas River than just the islands.