POSTED ON AUGUST 1, 2007:
Goldmine in the River
About the only thing we have done well regarding river development is to
put it off for decades. It has been more than 25 years since Mayor Jim Inhofe saw the vision and potential of river development when he put in the
Zink Dam, hopeful that future mayors would build on his vision. Those
who know the excitement and potential of river development believe that
waiting is about the last thing that makes any sense. Primarily because
there will always be some reason to put it off again and again.
The success of river development all over the country is undisputed, so
why wait? Especially when you consider how many factors are in place
right now for each city on the river to make huge economic strides.
River development is a partnership. Neither private developers nor the
public should or can do it all alone. The Arkansas River is like our
regions Main Street from Sand Springs to Broken Arrow. At this point in
time cities along the Arkansas River in Tulsa County have an incredible
opportunity to partner with visionary developers who are just waiting
for us to say "YES" to river development.
Under the leader of Mayor Vic Freeland, Jenks has been the flagship of
river development success. With the great entrepreneurial spirt of
Riverwalk, everything is going in the right direction for Jenks on the
river. And there is more to come. Wanting to build on the success of
Riverwalk and hopeful that the voters will approve the Arkansas River
Plan which includes a low water dam in Jenks, Lynn Mitchell and Randy
Hogan are poised to invest more than $200 million private dollars on a one
hundred and fifty acre tract of land known as the River District.
With the success of Lower Bricktown in Oklahoma City under their belts, Lynn and Randy are ready to partner with us in Jenks.
Bixby is one of the fastest growing cities in Tulsa County. With Mayor
Ray Bowen at the helm, Bixby is ready to partner with the Remy Companies
to invest more than $50 million in the South Village River Park Development
located east of Memorial just south of the Arkansas River. This multi
use center will include shopping, entertainment, office space and
residential development. Like the River District in Jenks, the "River
Project" in Bixby is one more piece in the master plan to develop the
river into 42 miles of incredible attractions. Like developers in Jenks,
Tim Remy is ready to invest and partner with us.
Broken Arrow has one of the premier youth athletic complexes in Oklahoma
at Indian Springs, on the shores of the Arkansas River. With thousands
of parents, families, teams, and visitors visiting Indian Springs every
year, river shore development to spur economic development and bring
needed sales tax dollars to Broken Arrow is a gold mine waiting to be
harvested. Broken Arrow's Indian Springs has what many river developers
long for--a critical mass of people. With river development that will
provides entertainment, food, recreation and retail, river development
in Broken Arrow is a success story just waiting to happen.
Under the leadership of George Kaiser, a man who truly loves his town
and region, a consortium of incredibly generous Tulsans have stepped
forward with over $100 million to improve the shores of the Arkansas
River. There has never been a time in Tulsa County that we've had the
opportunity to do so much by simply partnering with people of means who
are eager for river development.
One of the most successful river development projects in this region is
just up the road in Branson, Missouri. Many have heard of Branson
Landing, a multi use commercial development sitting on hundreds of
acres. Branson Landing developers have been to Tulsa, picked out the
parcel of land which they believe works best for a Tulsa Landing, and
are poised to invest up to $500 million private dollars in a partnership
If you consider the projected $200 million invested in Jenks, the $50
million invested in Bixby, the $100 million of charitable gifts, and the
likelihood that a Branson Landing type of development in Tulsa could add
another $500 million, we are looking at more than $850 million of private
investment against the $282 million we would invest. These entrepreneurs
will do the work on the banks of the river to create jobs and an
economic environment that will attract businesses. But no one wants to
develop the banks of the river if the river is nothing but a dried up
That's where we come in--building dams, pedestrian bridges,
river modifications, land acquisition, infrastructure, etc. That's the
part we pay for. That's the partnership.
Say "YES" to river development and for every $1 we spend, $3- $4 dollars
of private dollars will follow. That means new companies and new jobs
that will bring new people to our cities. And those new employees will
translate to revenue for our cities that will provide money for more
police, fireman and street repairs. So why wait? It's time to make this
Terry Simonson is Chief Deputy for District 2 County Commissioner Randi Miller.
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