POSTED ON FEBRUARY 15, 2012:
After three years, some forward momentum in Zink Dam project
During the hazy post-holidays hangover of January and February, the Oklahoma Legislature is just gearing up. A day before our government cranked to life on Feb. 10, lawmakers on the Oklahoma Council on Bond Oversight met to revisit an important Arkansas River development issue.
The council decided to cancel a stipulation for the already-approved sale of $26 million in bonds to fund Arkansas River development in Tulsa. The bonds were authorized in 2009 with a requirement for both Oklahoma houses to approve of the Zink Dam project (again) before T-Town would see the money.
On Feb. 9, the council unanimously voted to rescind the requirement for legislative approval, a move that will likely speed up repairs and construction on Zink Dam on the Arkansas River near 31st St.
Legislation to approve the bond sale has been floating around since 2008; the Oklahoma Legislature has voted to approve bond issues and appropriations for Tulsa dam projects four times.
The bond bill -- Senate Bill 239 -- passed in April 2009 while bond authorization language passed in 2008 (and was struck down by the State Supreme Court, which ruled the projects in the bill needed to be approved separately).
State Senator Mike Mazzei (R-Tulsa) was the principal author on SB 239 and said the bill's passage "could result in the creation of more than 9,000 jobs."
SB 239 reads: "The Oklahoma Capitol Improvement Authority (OCIA) is authorized to acquire real property, together with improvements located thereon, and personal property for purposes of construction of Zink Dam improvements, stream bank stabilization and construction of two additional low-water dams on the Arkansas River in Tulsa County."
Mazzei explained that the bill "will enable us to secure an additional $50 million in federal funds for this project."
In the two years since the bill's passage, federal funding has yet to come through, though money was authorized through the U.S. Water Resources Development Act of 2007. Funding awaits appropriation by the U.S. Congress.
The dam projects were poised "to create a total economic impact of $2.8 billion and approximately 9,450 jobs," Mazzei said in 2009. With the council's most recent vote, Tulsa may finally see this impact materialize.
Mayor Dewey F. Bartlett Jr., who eagerly awaited forward momentum on the bonds, applauded the council's unanimous 5-0 decision. And then the mayor thanked his former staffer and former House Speaker Chris Benge, who the mayor said "has been lobbying for this approval on behalf of the Tulsa Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce."
The next step for Tulsa is for the city and the River Parks Authority to work with the Oklahoma Capitol Improvement Authority "to get the bonds sold and the projects funded so that construction can begin on schedule," Barlett said.
The entire $26 million will go toward heightening and fixing and improving the Zink Dam, which will raise the water level and allow for the creation of a whitewater recreation area. The project will initially be funded by the state bond money and local matching funds.
Two additional low-water dams, one in Sand Springs and one near Jenks at 106th St., are also planned but are awaiting the approved federal money. We'll just have to cross our fingers and hope those federal dollars arrive someday.
Send all comments and feedback regarding City to email@example.com
URL for this story: http://www.urbantulsa.comhttp://www.urbantulsa.com/gyrobase/Content?oid=oid%3A46786