Congressman Sullivan supports river restoration

By Staff Report    
Friday, 21 September 2007
Congressman John Sullivan (R-OK 1 Dist) held a press conference at the River Park Festival Grounds today to support and encourage others to support the River Plan coming to a vote October 9.  The following is the full text of his remarks:

I am proud to represent the First District of Oklahoma in the U.S. House of Representatives.  I was born and raised in Tulsa, am a fourth generation Oklahoman, and the proud father of five children.  Those of us who live in Tulsa know what a great city it is – to work, to play, to grow up and to raise a family.  That is why investing in Tulsa’s future is so important.  When they grow up, I want my children, and their children, to be able to make a home here – to live and thrive in this great community.  In order for this to happen, it is important that we invest in our great city now.

The Arkansas River Development Project will not only bring economic expansion, visitors and growth to Tulsa, but to the entire region.  Planned river development in Sand Springs, Jenks, Bixby and Broken Arrow will provide those areas with beautiful, pedestrian friendly space along the Arkansas River.  It really is an asset to the entire area.

Other American cities have been successful in their riverfont projects, spurring billions of dollars of economic investment into their communities.  To the south in Forth Worth, Texas, my friend Congresswoman Kay Granger, along with other public and private entities, is helping bring millions of dollars of economic development along 88 miles of their waterfront.  Now it is Tulsa’s turn.

I will do my part in working diligently with the Oklahoma delegation to secure federal funding for this project.  The Water Resources Development Act, which contains $50 million in funding for the ecosystem restoration, recreation and flood damage reduction components of the Arkansas River Corridor Master Plan, passed the House on August 1 and will hopefully be brought up in the Senate soon.  My colleague and friend Senator Jim Inhofe has been working hard to help get this legislation passed and these funds secured.  He has worked tirelessly to ensure these basic infrastructure needs get authorized.  Even after this authorization is secured, we will still need to work on the appropriations process for funding.  In addition, the City of Tulsa has received the generous gift of $117 million in private donations – the largest private donation for a city-county project in state history, making this a true public-private partnership.  This covers one-third of the cost of the Arkansas River Development project.  The citizens of Tulsa will be forever grateful to these generous contributors for the positive, lasting impact they will make on our city.

To my friends and colleagues who have stood in opposition to this River Development project, I say to you:  the time for Tulsa is NOW.  For too long, our region has envied our neighbors living in our state’s capital, who have shaped and taken advantage of their natural resources to bring growth and economic development to the city.  But now Tulsa stands with a real proposal for economic success on our table and we have to consider the benefits the entire area will see.

In this, you have not seen anyone debate the fact that we need to do something with the Arkansas River.  Everyone supports the growth of this great opportunity; we simply differ on how we do it.  INCOG’s Arkansas River Development plan, combined with the generous private gift and the interest these projects have generated will help us reach the important benchmarks for private verses public investment.  It is important that there is a two to one ratio of private funds to public funds.  There is the potential for a real dollar impact for our public dollar investment.

This once in a lifetime opportunity will allow private and public entities to work together to produce a reiverfount which will bring pride to our city.  The Arkansas River Development Project will help keep jobs and people in Tulsa and is an investment for our future.  Tulsa is investing in itself, and in Oklahoma.  In past decades we have always thought our next great thing was just over the horizon, when we see now it was right in our own backyard, in OUR River.  I’ve lived in Tulsa for a long time.  I’m tired of hoping something would happen.  It is time to make something happen.

Vote YES October 9 for OUR RIVER.
Last Updated ( Friday, 21 September 2007 )