Mooser Creek at the north boundary of Turkey Mountain has been able to remain in reasonably good condition despite encroaching urbanization. How do we know? Mooser Creek is monitored by devoted Blue Thumb volunteers. Several of Turkey Mountain’s trails twist and turn and progress north to tie into areas along the southern bank of Mooser Creek.
Cheadle said the creek additionally serves as a boundary between the Turkey Mountain Urban Wilderness Area and Interstate 44, which is why she and others want to protect the area from pollution.
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.
The latest request, which must be approved by the Planning Commission, seeks to have the hearing moved to June 17.
“We would love to see it go somewhere else,” said Laurie Biby, public relations coordinator for the Tulsa Urban Wilderness Coalition. “We have no bad feelings for Simon, we just wish they would look at another site.”
Biby said she hopes Tulsa residents concerned about the proposed mall will stay engaged in the process.
“Because by no means do we think we are done with this,” she said.
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.
*note – Simon Group was invited but did not respond to the invitation.
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.
From monitoring the PRC meeting yesterday, I can say that INCOG and the city appreciate the gravity of what Simon is attempting to do and where they are attempting to do it. There are a few things they have to provide for clarification or more detail prior to this going to the full TMAPC on March 18.
Simon, thus far has avoided the local media unless it has been their own public announcements they have invited the media to. They refused to comment yesterday and last week when the YMCA finally went public with their comments on the development. Ask yourself why does Simon want to control the conversation and why are they not responding to the concerns of local citizens if they really want to be good members of the community.
Our stance has not changed, we still would prefer this development go elsewhere. This is NOWHERE close to a done deal. Simon has very high hurdles to clear.
Simon’s plan must get past the planning commission, then it must get past the City Council where your voices really count. Your representatives know the value of Turkey Mountain and so long as they know public opinion supports a pristine, undeveloped Turkey Mountain, they will act in our best interests. That’s why we need to keep emailing, calling, and need to show up when this goes before the City Council.
Simon has to explain and address the traffic issue east of their development. To date, they have no answers and meetings this week have shown there is no simple solution to the obvious reality Elwood and 61st will see a large uptick in traffic. This is a very important issue they must address as it’s in the interest of public safety on a very dangerous stretch of road.
Simon said they will be asking for tax incentives to help finance their project. Let the councilors know you do NOT support sanctioning the destruction of urban wilderness by providing tax incentives to the #1 mall developer in the world. Tax incentives to large out-of-state developers takes incentive money away from local developers who appreciate our culture and who are members of our community. Those are the developers who need help financing projects, not mega-developers with a $60 billion market cap.
Simon also has very keen competition with two other competing developments which may render this project dead at any time. Because of your emails, phone calls, and the coverage the media has provided on this issue, the city knows this is a controversial project.
We are simply providing an account of our observations on the progress of the planning process as promised. The next steps will be warm bodies at the TMAPC meeting on March 18 and the City Council meeting about a month later, unless some snags come up in their plan prior to those dates which would push it back.
Here are items that came up (please note that I am interchanging INCOG and city comments/inquiries as “city”):
-Simon has completed the traffic, geotechnical, topographical, and enviro studies. They have a plan for the 61st St. bridge but absolutely no answer for additional traffic on 61st heading east to Elwood then down Elwood Hill. I do believe these would be part of the public record and I am looking into obtaining copies.
-The city is concerned about the lighting standards they will use and if they really can minimize light pollution toward the Y and the wilderness to the east.
-The city expressed concern about the quality of run off water which will run off into Mooser Creek. It does not sound like all the engineering has been completed for the storm water system, but Simon’s engineer explained some of the natural filtration process they intend to use. Still, filtering the run off from over a million square feet of impermeable surface sounds like a daunting task. Again, that’s not my area of expertise. Simon seems to reply to many things with: “We’ve done this over 80 times with our outlet malls, we haven’t gotten this far by not learning something every time.” Basically, “Trust us to do the right thing.”
-The city does recognize that Turkey Mountain has regional and national prominence as a tourist draw. They want to make sure Simon understands this and will incorporate as many methods to respect this. I think they may have even referred to it as making it a bigger draw.
-The city advised Simon that their planned bridge over 61st Street will have to respect the SW Tulsa small area plan which called for a pedestrian-friendly bridge to connect Turkey Mountain to the neighboring areas to the west. Simon had proposed a 4’ sidewalk on the north side of the bridge, I believe the city will require a minimum of 6’. There was something in the SAP about assuring equestrian access from the Union Ave. corridor to Turkey Mountain. I’m not sure a 6’ pedestrian lane will cut it in that case. It appears to me, they may not have been aware of the small area plan, nor the Mooser Creek Study prior to now. INCOG will ensure those are respected in design
-The city has expressed concerns about pedestrian safety in the parking areas and circulator road. Obviously, this is an auto-centric project with pedestrian features once you are on-site. Any consideration to pedestrian access to the entrance of the site appears to be an afterthought at this time. The city is requiring a bus shelter for public transit access.
-The city also wants better clarification on how this project can link to the trails and consider the future use and demand for the trails. The city recognizes there is increasing interest in the recreation area. Simon thus far has been very vague on trailhead access or additional parking for trail users. This is an issue we are continuing to push and appears to have been a stipulation in the project from the beginning.
We are going to see lots of asphalt and lots of cars and lots of stores selling crap. Also, this huge mall is only going to have one entrance, off a two lane road from a freeway instersection with no lights. I’m expecting that they will want the road and the intersection upgraded at no cost to them as an “incentive.” I’m also sure that will want some fancy tax treatment to pay for infrastructure as more incentives. They are building on private land so they can do what they want but I don’t want to incentivize them. I’d like them to go somewhere else in town. Perhaps to a failed existing shopping center and redevelop it.