Wednesday, February 1, 2012


Public Outraged as Developers Close In

TULSA - Monday, January 30, at a "town hall" meeting held at the Rudisill Regional Library, Tulsa‘s Ward 1 City Councilman, Jack Henderson, informed residence of North Tulsa that many of the public community centers that had been paid for by the citizens of Tulsa would be demolished. According to
Councilman Henderson, the buildings had been neglected by the City fathers and were structurally unstable. The message to the people in attendance was "safety", but behind the rhetoric, the real message was clear: profit for developers.
Many of those in attendance at the meeting found the announcement to be disconcerting. Objections were raised to the City‘s failure to consult with the tax-paying voters in the affected community before making such important decisions. Others objected to the patronizing manner in which the meeting was conducted.
According to the itinerary distributed at the so-called "Town Hall Forum", for a "[d]iscussion of plans for possible demolition of Ben Hill, BC Franklin, Springdale recreation Centers." However, as the
meeting continued, it was clear that there was to be no "discussion." In an effort to save the structure, private citizens of the Tulsa area went so far as to make bids on the property. They have supplied the Tulsa City Council with information regarding acquisition by members of the community who hoped to keep the Community Center open. However, according to Lucy Dolman, Director of City Parks for the City of Tulsa, there is already a "master plan" plan in place. Therefore, the property to be demolished is not for sale to the public, nor would any amount of private donations from community members be accepted to preserve the site. The details of the "master plan" mentioned by Dolman have not been made available to the public.
In a city with a deplorable civil rights track record, home to a consistent Ku Klux Klan presence with ties to the Mayors office, the fact that the scheduled demolitions are targeting primarily black neighborhoods, while leaving public parks of South Tulsa‘s wealthier districts intact, has raised additional concerns over the equity of the decisions. The City‘s decisions follow other cuts affecting Tulsa‘s predominantly minority areas, such as last year‘s closing of 19 Tulsa public schools.
This most recent move appears to many as yet another by those in municipal government doling out "sweetheart deals" to a select group of developers who happen to also to make healthy campaign donations to certain elected officials. Following the conclusion of Monday‘s Town Hall Meeting,
many of the attendees spoke of taking action to stop the demolitions. Groups are organizing community-driven initiatives to preserve their facilities and hold their elected officials accountable to the public.

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