But there comes a time when you have to think bigger. The places where I run are pretty busy, and not just with runners. Cyclists, hikers and other trail users frequent my local trails by the hundreds every day, at a minimum. All that use has an impact on trails under the best of conditions. Add enough rain to the mix and trail erosion and degradation is greatly accelerated.
Simon was taken by surprise over the public reaction to the proposed mall. This is a company used to getting its way, particularly in cities hungry for new tax revenue. The initial pushback last fall was probably ignored,with the thought that it would subside over time. Instead, it has only grown. The online petition against the mall has nearly 8,500 signatures, and the crowds at two public forums to discuss the mall plan have been decidedly against Simon’s proposal.
But more importantly, what a great weekend of running for Tulsa. It sure seemed like the Great Plains 10K was a success, and TZ put on another great Snake Run. People got to enjoy the trails at Turkey Mountain, and thanks to all the runners, their efforts will help future endeavors to preserve and promote one of the city’s greatest assets.
Thanks to all my awesome volunteers, ones who give up their day so their friends can have a good race. And congrats to all my friends who ran and had fun with us.
As the past few weeks have unfolded, we’ve seen a growing number of voices who are opposing construction of an outlet mall at Turkey Mountain. Some are individuals, and some are turning into more organized groups. It points to the fact that there is a strong interest in preserving Tulsa’s biggest and best urban green space.
Noting this, there are some important distinctions to be made.
The Tulsa Urban Wilderness Coalition was founded on the belief that there needs to an open dialogue between the various owners of Tulsa’s wild spaces and those who visit them. The goal was that this would bring everyone closer together and foster greater care for one another and the world around us.
Yes, our formation as a coalition was prompted by a potential commercial development on an urban wilderness. But no, we are not a protest group.
• Yes, we are against the mall.
• No, we as a group are not against Simon malls or any other corporate entity.
The TUWC was formed with a long-term goal in mind. As we carefully decided what our group was to stand for, we came back with some basic fundamentals:
The first of those is respect. Respect for one another, the land and respect for those who have a different vision than we do.
The second is that in order to be users of the wilderness, we also need to be good stewards of the land. We need an active role in preservation. This is why we host cleanup days quarterly as well as other projects that help maintain and preserve the land.
The third is that facts speak louder than any rhetoric ever could, that the TUWC would become a clearing house for all facts dealing with Tulsa’s urban wilderness spaces. This is why we present all information from all sides on our website. We trust that Oklahomans want what is best for the world around them and that given the facts would arrive at the same conclusions that we do.
The fourth is to share this wonderful space with as many people as we can. To encourage them to live a more active and healthy lifestyle in whatever way they physically can. The TUWC regularly hosts guided walks of Turkey Mountain so that others may feel more at ease in the wilderness and also be taught how to respectfully use the trails and why these spaces are so important.
In short, we Celebrate Local Wilderness by standing on the basic principles above: Preserve, protect and promote the responsible use and enjoyment of Green Country’s urban wildness areas for current and future generations.
Now, almost exactly 30 years after the Turkey Mountain Special District was created, there is again an interest in commercial development adjacent to this wonderful natural recreation feature.
Our city leaders have spent hundreds of thousands of dollars since the 1970’s trying to determine what best defines Tulsa; what will best attract new residents and economic development; what makes Tulsa unique.
In city after city there are large commercial clusters as well as strips of commercial development. There is nothing unique about commercial shopping malls.
This is supposed to be the wall as viewed from about halfway down the pipeline trail. It’s cute how road bikes are leisurely pedaling up what is a steep incline on a dirt road. And no helmets!! This is their idea of camouflage the wall. Perfectly spaced large trees near the top and hundreds of saplings in between whatever existing trees they decide to leave for us. Give it 40-50 years, and it’ll look great. I’ll be dead by then.
So Simon asked for a time out. Company representatives were to appear at a Planning Commission next week, but asked for a one-month continuance. Translation: After getting battered by bad press, turning public opinion and open doubts from the people who have final say on the mall’s approval, Simon is taking a standing eight-count in their corner of the ring. I guess these things happen when your plan isn’t very good to begin with, and that’s not a surprise, given how poor the site is for a mall, and the other weaknesses I’ve already noted.
I’ve lived by the idea of embracing the elements, and what you see in those photos is a good reason why. It might be cold and wet, but it’s awesome in every way. Good things happen when you head outside.
Simon appears reluctant to share any of its 2,000 parking spaces with trail users. Instead, the company plans to go to the George Kaiser Family Foundation (one of the property owners adjacent to the proposed mall site) and see if the foundation would mind tearing up its property to put an additional 50 or so parking spaces and trailhead access. It’s been communicated to Simon that trail users do not want to sacrifice even more wild land for parking.