By KEVIN CANFIELD World Staff Writer
The Tulsa County Vision Authority approved $5.4 million in projects for Sand Springs, Collinsville and Glenpool on Wednesday that will be funded with surplus Vision 2025 tax collections.
The projects include improvements to the Sand Springs Expressway and River City Park in Sand Springs; two plazas and the renovation of the American Legion building in Collinsville; and a new water tower in Glenpool.
The authority also voted to remove the American Indian Cultural Center from the original list of Vision 2025 projects, freeing up $2 million in funding that had been approved by voters for design and construction of roads and utilities for the project.
The center was to have been built near 71st Street and the Arkansas River.
Robert Trepp, president of the National Indian Monument and Institute, said the project was hampered by the fact that several of the institute’s founding members have died.
“They (local communities) have current projects they need to fund, and we are not in a position to spend that money at this point in time,” Trepp said.
The institute plans to hold a fund-raising campaign in the spring, Trepp said. It is not affiliated with the American Indian Cultural Center and Museum in Oklahoma City, he said.
Tulsa County commissioners last year declared a $45.5 million Vision 2025 surplus. The Vision Authority has met three times since, approving $18.2 million in projects, or 40 percent of the available surplus.
The $45.5 million figure is the amount of surplus Vision 2025 funding that suburban cities in Tulsa County agreed to provide the city of Tulsa to cover the BOK Center’s higher-than-expected construction costs.
As part of that agreement, the suburbs were promised that they would receive the next $45.5 million in surplus funding.
Tulsa County or any municipality in the county can apply for all or part of the $2 million declared surplus Wednesday since it is not part of the $45.5 million surplus declared by county commissioners last year.
The Vision 2025 surplus is a result of sales-tax collections that were in excess of the construction costs and financing fees for Vision 2025 projects. The 0.6 percent Vision 2025 sales tax started in 2004 and will expire at the end of 2016.
The Vision Authority comprises the three county commissioners, three suburban mayors and the mayor of Tulsa.
Glenpool Mayor Momodou Ceesay said the water tower would provide the additional water for the growing community, as well as the proper water pressure needed to fight fires.
“The Wal-Mart area by City Hall, that is almost full, so the next area of real growth will be on 151st Street on the east and west side,” Ceesay said.
Glenpool received $1.5 million for the project, which will also include a water study to determine the size and type of tower the city will need.
Collinsville City Manager Pam Polk said the municipality plans to make the American Legion building “better than it was in its heyday” so it can be used as a community events center.
The city replaced the roof after the building was donated to the city a couple of years ago, Polk said. The $706,711 approved by the Vision Authority will help pay for the rest of the improvements.
The city also received $408,289 to build a war memorial plaza outside the American Legion building and to improve the existing City Plaza next to City Hall.
The final Collinsville project approved by the Vision Authority was a new wrought-iron fence and road for Bridge Lawn Cemetery. The authority approved $308,523 for the project.
The $2.5 million in projects approved for Sand Springs on Wednesday exhausts the Vision surplus funding allocated to the city.
Last month, the authority approve $1.9 million in projects for Sand Springs, including money to acquire five acres of land east of Case Community Center, build an event pavilion there and construct underground infrastructure as part of the city’s effort to improve River City Park.
The funds approved Wednesday will go for additional improvements to the park, possibly a Trail of Honor in recognition of military veterans and a community-sized playground. Funds will also be used to improve the city’s gateways along the Sand Springs Expressway.
Sand Springs City Manager Elizabeth Gray said it will be up to the City Council to determine what park improvements are made.
“We just want to make it an inviting place for our citizens so they don’t have to go someplace else to recreate,” Gray said.