Mas­ter lease of­fers River West pro­tec­tion

PARKS • River Parks Au­thor­ity con­sid­ers city's 50-year lease pro­posal; city may do­nate Turkey Moun­tain land

Tulsa World - - Metro&region - By Kevin Can­field Au­thor­ity in typ­i­cally

The mas­ter lease re­cently an­nounced be­tween the city of Tulsa and River Parks Au­thor­ity will run for 50 years and in­cludes stronger pro­tec­tions for River West Fes­ti­val Park while keep­ing the door open for com­mer­cial de­vel­op­ment there, a rep­re­sen­ta­tive from the Mayor's Of­fice said Tues­day.

The River Parks board of trustees will con­sider the pro­posed lease agree­ment on Thurs­day. The City Coun­cil, mean­while, will con­sider a res­o­lu­tion Wed­nes­day au­tho­riz­ing the city to move for­ward with its do­na­tion of four parcels of land on Turkey Moun­tain to River Parks.

“The agree­ment strikes a bal­ance when it pro­vides the city over the next 50 years with flex­i­bil­ity to dream about what the west bank of the river could look like and that kind of de­vel­op­ment we've al­ways hoped for as a com­mu­nity,” said Nick Doc­tor, the city's chief of com­mu­nity de­vel­op­ment and pol­icy. “And two, it lets Tul­sans know cul­tural in­sti­tu­tions like Ok­to­ber­fest that they love and they care about are pro­tected some form go­ing for­ward.”

Mayor G.T. Bynum pro­posed a mas­ter lease agree­ment in March to com­bine and sim­plify the mul­ti­ple leases the city and River Parks have been work­ing un­der for decades.

Those agree­ments

in­clude pro­vi­sions that al­low the city to take back its land with a 30-day no­tice.

Doc­tor said the new, longer lease will al­low River Parks to raise funds and plan for the fu­ture with­out wor­ry­ing that the land can be taken from it at any mo­ment.

Bynum's pro­posed mas­ter lease sep­a­rated the city-owned land used by River Parks into three cat­e­gories, each with dif­fer­ent terms un­der which the city could re­take the land.

Doc­tor said the mas­ter lease to be con­sid­ered by River Parks on Thurs­day in­cludes ba­si­cally the same clas­si­fi­ca­tions — with one big dif­fer­ence. Un­der Bynum's pro­posed mas­ter lease, city-owned Turkey Moun­tain prop­erty had a clas­si­fi­ca­tion of its own.

Now there is no need for such a clas­si­fi­ca­tion be­cause the city has agreed to deed the land to River Parks Au­thor­ity. That idea came from River Parks Au­thor­ity Trustee Phil Frohlich.

“That quickly be­came a con­ver­sa­tion point that we started look­ing at pretty se­ri­ously,” Doc­tor said. “That was a pretty quick agree­ment.”

The two re­main­ing clas­si­fi­ca­tions in the lat­est pro­posed mas­ter lease “are es­sen­tially a mir­ror of what we talked about in March,” Doc­tor said.

Class A prop­er­ties, which are made up pri­mar­ily of city-owned land on the east bank of the Arkansas River, will be pre­served for park pur­poses and de­vel­op­ment that is com­ple­men­tary to park pur­poses, Doc­tor said, and can only be re­moved from the lease by mu­tual agree­ment of the city and River Parks Au­thor­ity.

“It (also) pre­serves our abil­ity to do util­ity work and main­tain our pub­lic in­fra­struc­ture in that space,” Doc­tor said.

For Class B prop­er­ties, which are made up pri­mar­ily of prop­er­ties on the west bank of the river, the city will have to pro­vide 120-day no­tice be­fore it could re­move them from the lease, Doc­tor said.

The pro­posed mas­ter lease in­cludes ad­di­tional pro­tec­tions for River Parks' most prized prop­erty on the west bank — River West Fes­ti­val Park.

Doc­tor said should the city con­sider de­vel­op­ing the prop­erty, it would have to do one of the fol­low­ing, or a com­bi­na­tion of the fol­low­ing: pro­vide an­other piece of prop­erty for the fes­ti­val park along the river; pro­vide fi­nan­cial as­sis­tance to River Parks to de­velop an­other site for the park; or pro­vide fi­nan­cial com­pen­sa­tion.

The pro­posed lease also states that any Ok­to­ber­fest that falls within one year of the city need­ing to re­take the River West Fes­ti­val Park land will not be af­fected.

In a sep­a­rate but re­lated de­vel­op­ment, the Ge­orge Kaiser Fam­ily Foun­da­tion has agreed to do­nate ap­prox­i­mately 140 acres of Turkey Moun­tain land in which it has an own­er­ship stake.

Frohlich, who also sits on the GKFF board of trustees, said he has been work­ing since 2004 to ac­quire land on Turkey Moun­tain on be­half of the foun­da­tion. He said the foun­da­tion's in­tent has al­ways been to do­nate the land to the city once it was sure the other Turkey Moun­tain prop­er­ties would be pre­served for an ur­ban wilder­ness area.

The pro­posed mas­ter lease the River Parks board is to con­sider on Thurs­day would do just that.

“With the city now hav­ing stepped up, I fully ex­pect that the Kaiser Foun­da­tion's trustees will ap­prove a for­mal gift­ing to River Parks of our foun­da­tion's in­ter­est in some-140 Turkey Moun­tain acres at our next trustees meet­ing in midDe­cem­ber,” Frohlich said.

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