While I am a firm believer that everyone is entitled to their own opinions I am also a believer that everyone is not entitled to their own set of facts just to support their own opinions. This is especially true if the facts they use to support their opinions are either incorrect or untrue. Good public debate based upon true representations is always healthy. False representations undermine an honest public conversation. Such is the case with the recent UTW article "Seeing Double" by Bill Leighty regarding the progress the City of Tulsa has made to implement PlaniTulsa.
Since the adoption of PlaniTulsa the City has moved forward on a number of fronts. The first and most important implementation step we took was to hire a highly qualified planning director to guide the process. After a national search, we turned the implementation over to the qualified hands of Dawn Warrick. Mr. Leighty might have forgotten that the City had not had a planning director for many years. Once this occurred then things got rolling.
A major recommendation of PlaniTulsa was that our zoning and subdivision code needed a major overhaul to be compatible with many of the other recommendations. After a competitive process, Duncan Associations was hired in February to begin this important work.
At the core of PlaniTulsa was the development of collaboratively designed small area plans. After many public meetings and input, three plans were authorized and support funding was provided. The completion target for these is in the summer of 2013.
There were at least three other big initiatives in PlaniTulsa that I have consistently supported and have repeatedly stated need to be included in the Vision2 package. These include the completion of the Gilcrease Expressway, continued efforts to improve the Arkansas River with the retrofit of the Zink Dam and inclusion of other low water dams, and improvements to the Tulsa Zoo and the implementation of the Zoo Master Plan.
PlaniTulsa also addressed the important development of a multi modal facility near the Tulsa International Airport that would revitalize Tulsa as a major regional freight hub and breathe new live into the local manufacturing industry. After years of discussion on this important initiative, a Request for Proposals has been released to begin the feasibility and design assessment on how we can successfully tie together our airport, port, railroads, and major highways for the movement of freight throughout this region of the country. This type of initiative was considered a national priority in the recently passed transportation bill.
Just because progress with PlaniTulsa doesn't make daily news, doesn't mean there isn't exciting progress occurring. All of this and more can be found in the PlaniTulsa Implementation Quarterly Report of May 24, 2012. Please check the City of Tulsa's website or contact our Planning Department.
Vision2 is an effort to address both economic development and community building. As with all successful efforts, community input is an ongoing process.
You never stop asking the public and listening to what they have to say. Mr. Leighty seems to find fault with our efforts to hold community meetings and our continuing efforts to listen. He believes we should stop asking and listening. I believe we should never stop. He believes PlaniTulsa was the end point. I believe it was the starting point.
He believes if we just put all of our efforts and resources into one basket the rest will just happen. History tells us that never happens and never works. You need to work both economic development and quality of life measures in tandem. That's what the Vision2 package presents. It focuses on building jobs and building Tulsa. We want citizens to not only have a job here but to be happy here. That's an effort of which there is no end.
It is my hope that out of the community meetings we will hear both reaffirmations that the citizens support those projects which we believe are in Tulsa's long term best interest and new ideas that work for all of Tulsa.
--Dewey F. Bartlett Jr. is the mayor of Tulsa.
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