I’m surprised no one is talking about Turkey Mountain.
Now that the folks behind a proposed outlet mall at 61st Street and Highway 75 have scrapped the idea— or so it seems — a multi-prong effort is afoot to ensure that as much of the beloved area as possible remains undeveloped.
Haven’t you heard?
River Parks Authority has asked city councilors for $5.6 million from the Vision 2025 sales tax renewal to expand Turkey Mountain’s footprint.
Another nonprofit, Tulsa Urban Wilderness Coalition, wants $4.5 million for the same purpose and $5.5 million for enhancements to the area.
And Planning and Leadership Academy Tulsa, a group of community-minded high school students, has gotten together to request Vision renewal funds with the same goals in mind.
River Parks’ intent, according to a handout provided to city councilors, is to acquire enough land to “secure contiguous recreational properties from the (Arkansas) river to Highway 75, north of 61st Street.”
That would include the 52-plus acres on the northeast corner of 61st Street and Highway 75 where Simon Properties’ Premium Outlet Mall was to have been built, River Parks Executive Director Matt Meyer told councilors.
Last week, Meyer told the Frontier that the possible purchase is nothing more than an idea. The property is owned Beeline Sixty-One Properties.
“We don’t have a contract or anything,” Meyer said. “Nobody has offered any land to us. It is all preliminary.”
The land directly east of the Beeline property and north of 61st Street is owned either by the city of Tulsa or the George Kaiser Family Foundation, or partially owned by GKFF.
The Kaiser Foundation has said previously that it does not intend to develop the land it owns.
Meyer said another possible use for the Vision funding would be to purchase land not owned either by the city, or by GKFF entirely.
“It gives us flexibility” regarding possible land purchases in the area, Meyer said.
Planning and Leadership Academy Tulsa has proposed that as much as $3.2 million in sales tax from a Vision 2025 renewal be used to purchase the former mall site. As an alternative, PLAT suggested the city split the cost with the Tulsa Urban Wilderness Coalition.
TUWC is seeking donations to purchase the property through the Tulsa Community Foundation.
Which brings us to Tulsa Urban Wilderness Coalition’s pitch for Vision funds.
TUWC has its eyes on different property than those River Parks and PLAT hope to secure.
It wants $4.5 million to buy 151 acres south of 61st Street and east of Highway 75.
The properties include:
- Approximately 53 acres owned by Siegfried Companies Inc. on the southeast corner of U.S. 75 and 61st Street
- Approximately 25 acres just south of the Siegfried property owned by McGehee, Leone C. & First National Bank and Trust, OKC
- Approximately 73 acres owned by Miller, Jennifer L. Trust & Jill S. Johnson Trust to the south and east of the Siegfried property and east of the McGehee property
As you can see, a lot of folks are determined to expand the boundaries of what is known as Turkey Mountain.
Whether that will happen is another story. Who knows whether any Vision dollars will be allocated for that purpose, or how much.
Waves of people have their hands out. Councilors received more than $2 billion worth of requests to fund economic development projects.
The sales tax, should voters agree to renew it, is expected to raise about $732 million over 15 years, and a large chunk of that will go for river development — remember those dams?— and public safety.
If you’re curious about what $2 billion in Vision requests look like, check out the full list of proposed projects at https://www.cityoftulsa.org/our-city/vision/submitted-proposals.aspx
City councilors have said they plan to hold town hall meetings to present their Vision 2025 renewal proposal to voters before it is placed on the ballot in April.
That means a lot of cutting between now and then.