Monday, January 5, 2015

More outlet mall ponderings

To some, an outlet mall is the best gift ever--new jobs for our city, more sales tax revenue, and BARGAINS!  Ask 1,000 people from all areas and walks of life--"Would you like to have a Premium Outlet Mall in Tulsa?" 95% of Tulsans would answer yes. I am sure of that. But ask the SAME 1,000 people a second question--"If another location for the mall could be found that did not have a negative impact on Tulsa's Urban Wilderness, would you be in favor of putting it in another location? I bet at least 80% would favor another location.

If Simon Properties goes through with their proposed Premium Outlet Mall, Tulsa loses 56 acres of wondrous nature, over 10% of  the area's natural habitat for deer, bobcat, raccoon, and several species of birds including eagles. Yes, there is still 90% of the land--but the squeeze is put on the wildlife there, slowly pushing them out. To some, this is a frivolous argument -- it's hard to argue with someone with no respect for God's creatures.

This trail will be gone once parking for patrons of the 800,000 mall is in place. There are close to 2 miles of trails that will cease to exist. This does not include the several trails beyond the property that will now be dead end trails--we basically lose the use of them too.

This vista may still be here--it's on the northern part of the plot, and providing they decide to not knock down all the trees in the picture, it may be visible from your parked car.

So, once the construction starts, get ready for this. My heart sunk a year ago when hundreds of trees were bulldozed. The heavy machinery operators were tight lipped about what was going on, although they were courteous. They were simply worker bees sent to do a job. Who knows--they may have been as sick about what they were doing as I was watching them. I was glad they left a lot of the trees standing. Those trees may not be so lucky once construction starts.

Here it is, Tulsa. Lots of concrete, lots of steel. Retail/discount shopping is on it's way. It's beautiful, isn't it?

And don't forget the infrastructure. The City of Tulsa has announced that they have no plans to widen 61st Street and the HWY 75 bridge--and hinted that Simon Properties will be responsible for the improvements. A quote from a Tulsa World story published yesterday:
At 61st Street and U.S. 75, where plans for an outlet mall were recently announced, there is no public funding identified to improve roads or other infrastructure.
The developer of the site, Simon Property Group, will be responsible for providing additional turn lanes, traffic signals and/or other improvements to provide access to the mall if determined by the city, officials said.
With the easement they could obtain to widen the roads, you can be sure we'll lose another 1.5 miles of trail. And don't be surprised if we get throttled with an extra half penny sales tax to pay for these "improvements." 61st Street and Elwood could be 4 or 6 lane roads, complete with 8' concrete sidewalks on either side. The whole landscape of Elwood and LipBuster Trail will be totally unrecognizable to those who use that trail for hill repeats.
A biking friend of mine mentioned that one bright spot was this might solve some of the parking problems at the lower parking lot. I doubt it. Personally, I would probably be nauseated starting my run from here.

I am thankful that the Kaiser Foundation has secured most of the privately owned land in our urban wilderness. I am deeply saddened by the prospects of this huge sore oozing sore put within sight and and sound of our peaceful forest playground. The land south of 61st Street could very well be the next target. Development there also means the roads are widened, and Turkey Mountain loses.

Read my friend Bob Doucette's article at Proactive Outside for another insightful commentary.

1 comment:

  1. Scary and sad, but grateful you are talking about this - a lot of people think it's safe and resolved after the Kaiser announcement that they won't develop, but fail to understand that the area is still very vulnerable. I liked the digging you did for the old articles about the original intention to buy up land surrounding it to protect (previous post). I hope Jeanie Cue can scrub the dollar signs out of her eyes just enough to see the consequences down the road.