One of Tulsa’s largest employers accuses the City of trying to evict them from their building.
Navistar leases part of the Air Force Plant #3 at the airport, but a 20-year lease expired in January, and the two sides can’t agree on terms for a renewal.
The negotiations started two years ago, according to the City, and both sides agree the dispute centers on maintenance needs for the building.
The City requires Navistar to maintain the property as part of the lease, but the City claims Navistar has put it off. Plant Manager Randy Tharp said the company spend $1 million each year on maintenance and the building is suitable as is for their needs.
The company launched a website with claims the City wants to evict Navistar and in response the City released documents detailing their efforts to extend the lease and reach an agreement on the maintenance.
Navistar employs 1,600 people at the bus plant, which turns out 74 buses each day.
Tulsa Mayor G.T. Bynum said, “The main financial requirement of that lease is that they maintain the building, and then they don't it?” in arguing it wouldn’t be good stewardship of City assets to let the maintenance needs lapse.
The City claims an independent inspector found millions of dollars in overdue maintenance, and that Navistar’s own inspectors found similar issues.
Tharp, the Plant Manager, said the City’s termination letter for the original lease, raised alarms for the employees.
“When we get a letter that says we're terminating your lease, that hits home, to 1,600 people.And we want to be heard” said Tharp.
Bynum said the City won’t agree to a long-term lease without a written plan for repairs. The current extension runs through the end of May. Bynum said the notion the City wanted to evict Navistar was not true.
“Why they would say that to their employees, and their employees’ families in the middle of this economic crisis? For the life of me, I can't understand it, except that it's a hard ball negotiation tactic,” said Bynum.