POSTED ON OCTOBER 17, 2012:
Cue the Community
City Councilor Jeannie Cue says grassroots efforts boost west Tulsa
It may not always be widely talked about, but it's very important to Jeannie Cue.
"I wanted you to see the giving of this community," Cue told a reporter during a stop on her tour of Tulsa's District 2, an area that includes southwest Tulsa and portions of south Tulsa.
She walked up to the gleaming new Cornerstone Community Center. The modern-looking structure on South 41st West Avenue is nestled in a neighborhood that now has dozens of homes built through Habitat for Humanity.
"It's amazing what you can accomplish without government funding," Cue said, especially praising the efforts of Pastor Willard Jones with Greater Cornerstone Church.
Jones and his church spearheaded the drive for the center, which opened just last month. The names of benefactors like George Kaiser and the Hille Foundation adorn various rooms inside. Along with fun features like a full-size indoor basketball court and stage equipment for community performances, the center provides a strong base for social service agencies to help those who need it.
Cue's district not only spans the Arkansas River, but it also includes diverse neighborhoods that range from gated residential enclaves to government housing. The district "has probably one of the top number of government subsidized houses in the city of Tulsa," Cue said.
Some of those are part of the jumble of apartments south of East 61st Street near South Peoria Avenue, one of the most crime-plagued sections of the city.
"We're working with the Tulsa police department and a special gang unit for this area," Cue said.
She credited neighborhood groups with working to improve community conditions, but acknowledged that problems remain.
Cue said she regularly tours the neighborhood, especially keeping an eye out for unmaintained lots near some of the apartment complexes.
COUNCILOR JEANNIE CUE
"I need to come back over here and discuss the cleanup right here in this area," Cue said after spotting some litter near an apartment site. "We've got to get code enforcement out there."
Cue stressed the importance of keeping things well maintained throughout her district.
"If you Google America's most beautiful city ... it comes up Tulsa. So we want people to be responsible," she said.
Her district also includes one of the city's newer retail areas, a wide swath of stores including Tulsa Hills Shopping Center and several big box retailers in west Tulsa.
"It started with a TIF about eight years ago," Cue said, referring to at Tax Increment Finance district, an economic development tool used by the city take some taxes generated within a geographic area and use the money for specific projects. "There was a lot of controversy over the building here, would it really prosper and benefit the area."
But Cue said the shops, which include several major retailers, have been a draw even for people outside of the city. She said she's asked customers in the past where they traveled from to get to the stores, sometimes getting a response that they came from towns far south of Tulsa like Henryetta, about an hour away.
She said the area has had growth in residential development, as well.
"There is a housing addition behind Tulsa Hills that is one of the fastest selling housing additions when it was built," Cue said. "It was amazing, even when the economy was bad, the housing in that area was just skyrocketing."
As far as public works projects, Cue said the widening of East 61st Street will continue east until South Lewis Avenue. One goal is to boost the number of sidewalks in the area, she said, adding that a signal light is expected to be put in place near East 61st Street and South Yorktown Avenue, near McClure Elementary School.
"The city, in general, has a problem with a lack of sidewalks. And with our disabled community, with our underserved community that has to rely on the bus, and our people that just like to run and jog, we want a safe environment," Cue said.
Close to her heart is the Route 66 Village, an organization that she once led that has transformed a plot of land into a roadside attraction on Southwest Boulevard. It's across the street from Webster High School, where Cue attended some 40 years ago.
The Route 66 Village project is in line to receive Vision2 funding that would provide money for $549,000 in improvements. But it's not the only Vision2 funding that would result in change to Cue's district. She noted that money to extend the Gilcrease Expressway could affect southwest Tulsa. Cue also successfully pushed for Vision2 funds to be distributed to individual districts. And, of course, there's the $71 million to help develop the Arkansas River.
The impact of Vision2 will depend on voters, of course, with the proposal on the Nov. 6 ballot to extend a sales tax hike through 2029.
"Our neighborhoods will prosper if Vision2 does pass," Cue said, though she said that when she talks to voters about the proposal, "I feel in my position, I'm not there to influence a vote, I'm there for them to learn all they can."
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