River Proposal Revealed

By David Arnett, Publisher    
Friday, 08 September 2006
At one time, more millionaires per capita lived in Tulsa than anywhere in the world.  Now Tulsa is home for more foundations per capita.  It is fitting, then, that one of those would bring forward the most remarkable local development proposal in decades.  Announced by John-Kelly Warren, chairman of the William K. Warren Foundation, “The Channels” is heralded as an achievable plan to build a signature urban space, unique and vibrant, in the middle of the Arkansas River.

The Channels would feature three linked islands with a total of 40 acres of public, office, and residential space with entertainment facilities.  It would also clean the water and solidify the banks of the Arkansas in the creation of a 12.3-mile lake stretching to Sand Springs from the impounding dam at the 23rd Street Bridge.

Finally, a clean section of the Arkansas River could be certified for swimming and boating in the heart of Tulsa County.

Plans call for the project to generate excess energy from hydro, solar and wind power that could be sold back to the power grid to help support the project.  The man-made islands would be located between the 11th and 23rd street bridges, and would itself be connected by two bridges to the east bank and Riverside Drive.

Estimated to require $600 million in some form of public financing, the nonprofit lead by Warren, called “Tulsa Stakeholders, Inc.,” is committed to raise $100 million as a gift from the private sector for this project.  Through the sale of energy created by the projects, hydro-dam and other renewable energies, an additional $88 million dollars can be financed, for a project total of $788 million.

The project plan has been underdevelopment for more than a year.  Many national experts and local leaders had signed non-disclosure agreements, but apparently someone broke that legally binding contract to tip the daily newspaper.  Sources tell Tulsa Today that forced the accelerated public presentation as critics immediately surfaced.

Local anti-tax advocate Dan Hicks of Broken Arrow has placed yard signs throughout South Tulsa denouncing any tax for river improvement.  Hicks long ago told Tulsa Today that he believes all tax is economic slavery.  Hicks was also involved in the “Creationist Display” controversy at the Tulsa Zoo during Mayor Bill LaFortune’s term.

“Now is the time to create a place on the river of which we can be proud.  But we need your help and we need it now.  Join us in support of The Channels,” Warren said.  “By offering the quality of life amenities found in this project, we can create a competitive advantage for Tulsa that retains and attracts the best and brightest workers and the companies that follow them.”

The Channels project proposes a unique, world-class example of environmentally friendly, planned urban development.  If built, it would set Tulsa above competing cities and provide a must-see public space that residents and visitors will appreciate.  It is no less a signature development than the St. Louis Arch or the Golden Gate Bridge.

For more information online visit www.tulsachannels.com

Editor’s Note:
Tulsa Today has invited Tulsa Stakeholders to meet with our Editorial Board in the near future.  The results of that meeting and continuing coverage of this remarkable project proposal will be featured on Tulsa Today.  We believe Tulsa Stakeholders will be able to answer our specific questions and concerns. At this time, we believe this effort is worth great study and careful consideration.

Last Updated ( Sunday, 10 September 2006 )