- Posted February 10, 2012 by
This iReport is part of an assignment:
Occupy Wall Street
Occupy Tulsa Joins the Fight to Save North Tulsa Rec. Centers
BC Franklin Park was the first park to be built in the north side of Tulsa during the 1960’s Model Cities Project, and its Recreation center provided enrichment to the lives of generations of kids in the community. The city officially abandoned the center 10 years ago, but various community groups continued to use the building until 2009. Falling into disrepair due to the city’s neglect, the center and two others like it face demolition by the City of Tulsa as part of the “Master Parks Plan” put together by the city Parks department several years ago without local citizens’ approval. The center is slated for demolition on March 16th.
At the meeting, Tulsa resident Byron Watson detailed a history of the city’s misappropriation of funds which had been earmarked to BC Franklin and other Parks like it in North Tulsa. The Third Penny Sales Tax of 2006 has been collected each year, and according to city officials, still remains in the account, but is not being used for the maintenance and upkeep of the parks to which the funds had been designated. Byron also highlighted other areas in the city’s budget which have been allocated for North Tulsa parks, but spent elsewhere or simply disappeared. Community leaders at the meeting called for an independent building inspector to re-evaluate the city’s estimate of required repairs to the center which the city claims amount to over $2.2 Million, a number which “changes every time we talk to them,” said NAACP official Regina Goodwin.
Occupy Tulsa Co-Organizer Stephanie Lewis attended a recent District 4 “City Hall in your Neighborhood” meeting, and reported that the issue of the parks was raised to Mayor Dewey Bartlett during the Q&A session. She said that Bartlett claimed to have met with nine local pastors from churches in North Tulsa, and brokered a deal to have the community’s children bussed to local churches for activities, rather than keep the Recreation Centers in the parks open. “This small group decided what would happen to the historic parks of north Tulsa” without actually consulting the people in the community that use them, Lewis said.
Occupy Tulsa has been involved in working to keep the Greenwood Cultural Center open, whose funding was cut by the state and city over 2 years ago. Now they are also joining the fight to save the Rec centers. Occupy Tulsa Organizer Daniel Lee spoke at the meeting hosted by the city about the parks demolition project at Rudisill Library the previous week, stating “Occupy Tulsa loves parks” to laughter in the room. He continued, “…and we are committed to standing together, shoulder to shoulder, with the citizens of North Tulsa, in front of the bulldozers if need be, to save these centers and the community.”