Stickers Situation. The red dots told the story. Residents of the Tulsa Hills/West Highlands area still feel uneasy about certain kinds of development in their neighborhood.
Seven red stickers were placed on a poster near the small-area plan statement advocating for "more intense zoning east of Union Avenue."
The red stickers stood for concern, and they came from among the group of 15 or so neighborhood residents who attended a Feb. 27 workshop on the neighborhood's small-area plan. The group was told to place the stickers on posters with various statements. Collectively, the statements could guide growth in the area.
Development became a hot button issue last year, with many residents opposed to plans by an Arkansas developer, Lindsey Management, to build a large apartment complex northeast of West 71st Street and South Union Avenue.
Residents voiced worry about potential traffic and crime problems, while also expressing a desire to keep the area's rural charms from being run over by such developments.
Despite steps taken by the developer to provide "green belt" landscaping and unanimous approval by the Tulsa Metropolitan Area Planning Commission, the project remains in limbo. The Tulsa City Council voted in December to table a vote on the project until completion of the area's small-area plan.
At the Feb. 27 meeting, residents expressed a variety of opinions with their sticker placement, with a statement advocating for more trees on home lots garnering the strongest support.
But with the small-area plan expected to be completed in just a few short months, the group will still have to hammer out issues that led to some intense discussion at the meeting, including an idea to push for a new type of agricultural zoning for portions of the area.
Chamber Weighs In. The Tulsa Regional Chamber, easily the area's most influential business group, has weighed in with concerns about the city's recently adopted form-based code.
The development guidelines adopted by the Tulsa City Council in 2011 -- but since applied to only a very few city blocks -- are meant to encourage redevelopment through pedestrian-friendly building designs, perhaps sparking mixed-use development.
But the chamber's cited concerns about the code's parking regulations, minimum building height requirements and limits on building width in a letter submitted to the Tulsa Metropolitan Area Planning Commission, which was expected to discuss possibly amending the code at a March 6 meeting taking place after deadline.
A push to expand the code to a larger area in the Pearl District neighborhood east of downtown has proven to be a thorny one for the planning commission, with criticism coming from a diverse group of businesses and residents in the area even while code advocates note that the neighborhood needs a spark to spur redevelopment.
Chris Benge, the chamber's senior vice president of government affairs, wrote that while the chamber "is committed to seeing Tulsa move forward through the revitalization of our urban core," the group supports "re-evaluating and amending" the code.
In describing chamber concerns, Benge notes a lack of customer parking for businesses in the Pearl District. Street parking is allowed through most of the area. Benge also questions whether regulations requiring two-story structures in some zones within the code area might be better formed as incentives for property owners.
Benge goes on to ask if some of the code's goals can be accomplished "through a code which is less prescriptive and far shorter in length.
Public Input Sought on Capital Projects. Public meetings are scheduled this week as city leaders gather feedback on street repairs and other community infrastructure needs in advance of a likely ballot proposal to extend the current sales tax.
Meetings are scheduled to take place March 11, at Martin Regional Library, 2601 S. Garnett Road, and March 12 at Fellowship Bible Church, 5434 E. 91st St. Each meeting is set to begin at 6pm.
After gathering the public feedback, the council and Mayor Dewey Bartlett are expected to draft a proposed list of projects which might be funded through the sales tax extension, which would result in roughly $800 million in funding for the projects.
The proposed extension of what's been known as the Fix Our Streets program is expected to be placed on the ballot in November. City Councilor G.T. Bynum has said that at least the amount devoted to street repairs in the 2008 Fix Our Street package -- $451.6 million -- will be devoted to streets, but that the city will also consider a wide range of other projects.
Tulsa Musician's Items in OKPOP Collection. In the 1920's, it was known as the "Chittlin' Circuit," the clubs that welcomed African-American musicians in the south.
Ernie Fields began his music career in Tulsa and became a favorite in those venues, part of a career which also included a national hit in 1959 with a version of Glenn Miller's "In the Mood."
Now, memorabilia celebrating Fields has been donated to the Oklahoma Museum of Popular Culture, according to a March 4 statement from the museum.
The material includes artifacts, recordings, photographs, posters and documents from Fields' life in music, the items donated by Fields' children.
Fields' band was also the first African-American group to play Cain's Ballroom, home to Bob Wills.
Wills became a fan of Fields' mix of jazz, swing and blues.
"My dad and Bob would spend time together and they would get both of their bands together for late night jams after the paying gigs were over," Ernie Fields Jr., also a musician, told the museum, according to the statement.
The elder Fields is a member of the Oklahoma Jazz Hall of Fame. He died in 1997.
The OKPOP museum still only exists on the drawing board, with backers seeking more than $40 million in state funding to build it in the Brady Arts District.
Tulsans Turned Out for Bassmaster Classic. The final tally is in, and it was a whopper.
A total attendance of 106,850 was counted by organizers of the 2013 Bassmaster Classic, the first time the event was held in Tulsa.
Held Feb.22-24, the attendance was the second-highest ever for the competition, according to event organizers.
"We were elated with the turnout from Tulsa and nearby communities for the world championship -- as well as the thousands who traveled to see the Classic from other states," said Bruce Akin, chief executive officer for the Bass Anglers Sportsman Society, in a Feb. 27 news statement.
School Tech Bond Proposal to Voters. The Tulsa Public Schools board voted 6-1 on March 4 to send a $38 million school tech bond proposal to voters in a May 14 election.
Dubbed the Smart and Secure Schools bond measure, it would provide for the creation of a tech-equipped "standard classroom" in every TPS school, so every teacher would have the following tech items: an iPad tablet, wireless Internet access, and a high-tech interactive whiteboard with speakers, with the board capable of interacting with a document camera and what's known as Internet-protocol television.
According to the district, the bond money would create a student-to-computer ratio no higher than 3-to-1, with funds working out to be about $337 per pupil.
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