By Kevin Canfield
The Frontier

The Arkansas River Infrastructure Task Force this morning agreed to reduce the scope of a proposed low-water dam package, reducing the cost by about 25 percent.

The latest proposal eliminates park amenities at the four proposed dams and modifies plans for the Bixby dam.

The changes cut the cost of the proposal from $316 million to $235.3 million.
The City Council task force has been working for more than a year to identify the city of Tulsa’s objectives for River development and to create a plan to achieve it.

The last time the task force met, members were told it would cost $316 million to build or reconstruct low-water dams in Sand Springs, Tulsa, south Tulsa/Jenks and Bixby.

But City Councilor and Task Force Chairman G.T. Bynum began Thursday’s meeting by saying that, based on discussions he had had with community leaders since then, the consensus was that each community should be responsible for the parks and other amenities surrounding the dams.

County Commissioner and task force member Karen Keith strongly opposed taking the parts out of the package saying the dams were a regional project that needed to be funded regionally.

“I just believe in doing it right the first time,” she said.

Bynum said after the meeting that he is confident the participating communities will choose to fund the parks.

As currently envisioned, the dams would be paid for as part of a Vision 2025 sales tax renewal.

The dams are expected to take up about one-third of the 0.60 sales tax, leaving participating 0.40 percent to fund other projects.

Those are funds communities could use to fund their parks, Bynum said.
The river task force has made no final decisions on what dams will be included in the proposal.

They expect to make that decision by the end of the month, followed by public meetings.
A vote on the dams could come as early as the fall.