The city of Tulsa is considering selling portions of Helmerich Park. The process started in 2015 but has not been finalized.
It was previously sold to a shopping center developer but the issue is now held up in court. This case concerns a piece of land around nine acres in Helmerich Park. This parcel of land sold by the government currently holds volleyball courts and very little development. While Helmerich Park has lost land, it has not lost its playground or parking areas.
The sale of this land is now up for debate in court due to a lawsuit by former Tulsa mayor Terry Young. Young was the democratic mayor in Tulsa from 1984-1986. In a statement to Newson6, Young stated that his goal for this case was that “the city council will vote not to abandon the park, and the contract with the developer will be allowed to expire in March.”
If the contract expires in March, the park will keep the land and go back to its previous state before the sale. Young and other supporters of the case hope that the land will be kept as a park indefinitely. Young argued “As long as there is an attempt to sell the parkland, we will maintain our lawsuit.”
Texas developer Don Bouvier is one of the main business leaders behind the previous sale of the land. On the land, he hopes to build a new store in the REI or Recreational Equipment Incorporated chain. This chain of stores is currently not located in Oklahoma and sells outdoor equipment.
Before the lawsuit, Bouvier had made a business arrangement with Dewey Bartlett with support from several city councilors. The major problem for Bouvier is that as the court case drags on, the deal may not be re-opened and he will lose the land as available real estate. Current mayor G.T. Bynum is in the process of attempting to find a compromise between the two parties.
Parts of Helmerich Park should not be sold to developers. The main problem is the distance between parks in Tulsa. Helmerich Park stands alone in the Riverside area. Manion Park, nearest to Helmerich, is 4.3 miles away. This far distance can cause trouble for kids to reach a potential park to play at.
The park is also important because it is within walking distance from the Riverside Park Apartments. Helmerich Park provides a potential area to walk, ride bikes and play volleyball for people who live in these apartments. While one might argue that the land being sold is on the corner and not as important as the playground areas, the area is where the volleyball courts are currently located. It would be difficult to find new areas that could easily fit these volleyball courts.
This park should not be sold because it would be a detriment to the community surrounding the parks. While it was referring to national parks, this quote by Theodore Roosevelt helps describe why we should keep the park land, “Cherish these natural wonders, do not let selfish men and greedy interests skin your country of its beauty, its riches, or its romance.”