92+ ACRE DEVELOPMENT ON THE LAKE HEFNER SOUTH SHORE ROAD

» Posted by on Nov 12, 2015 in Activities

 

I urge everyone to attend the meeting about new development on Lake Hefner this Thursday evening.  There was a meeting on Tuesday for the Edgewater-Lakepointe neighborhood residents and the meeting Thursday is for Lake “user groups” and other interested parties.  As we have seen in past years with other proposed projects for the lake the architecture firm has a six month head start on us.  I missed the contract approval in the Water Trust meeting notes partially because it is titled as an urban development study for Northwest Expressway.  I do know that once development starts it will be difficult to stop and impossible to correct the damage.

The outcome of what happens to the Lake Hefner Reservation is up to you and everyone you contact and bring to the meeting.  There is a 14 question survey at the meeting and that is the data they will “interpret” to make decisions and recommendations.  If you are not there to take the survey you have no voice probably until the project reaches the Council by which time it will have significant momentum.

The Lake Hefner meeting is Thursday evening, November 12, at 6:00 pm will be held in the John Marshall High School cafeteria located at 12201 N. Portland.  Enter west of the Lake Hefner Parkway to the south off of NW 122nd street at the light. 

A six o’clock start makes attendance very difficult for some of you (and me) but don’t let that deter you. Many of us were late Tuesday but the meeting got a late start.  If they start without you Thursday we’ll make them start over!

This meeting is being produced by the contracted architectural firm, Mass Architects, as a part of contract numbers WM-0218 and SM-0261, the first being a Water Trust contract and the second a Sewer Trust contract.  Each of these contracts pays for half of the $363,148.00 contract total price.  If you want to see the 35 page contract here is a link: http://www.okc.gov/AgendaPub/cache/2/kys1io3yzeehos55cbkmzhq0/28104761111201505093146.PDF

The area in question is the 92.49 acres on the south side of the South Lake Road stretching from Meridian Avenue to Portland Avenue.  Much of this area is a federally protected wetland for migrating birds and includes the area where we stopped the installation of a wakeboard park several years ago and six oil wells last year.  You may remember that last little week before Christmas gift from the Water Trust.

The architectural contract consists of nine steps from to the initial Marketing Study to the final Contracting and Implementation Processes.  In its’ presentation Mass will discuss how many tens of thousands of square feet of restaurants, offices, retail shops and housing will fit into this area but will not discuss the hundreds of bulldozed trees, the permanently lost natural areas and the lowering of the quality of life.  Plus when this information infuriates the crowd they are more than happy to say that alternatively it could be reflecting pools, woodland paths, flower gardens and butterflies but there isn’t any money to pay for those things.  More on the money later.

Since the community meetings are Step Two, I assume that Step One, the Market Study, has been completed so Mass has looked at the area demographics, analyzed the site locations, looked for competitors in the area, determined how many business they can shoehorn into the area in the next decade and done a title search.  Additionally, they have already held meetings with potential developers!

My personal take on commercial developers, having looked at many of the minimal amenity, sprawling installations in OKC is that if you can build near or on an already beautiful area then you’ll save a lot of money on landscaping and ongoing facility maintenance costs.  I’m not saying they all operate that way because we do have some commercial installations that are nicely landscaped and well maintained and are very easy on the eye.  I’m no expert but it seems to me that if the City would (very belatedly) require more thoughtfulness, more civility in approved building projects it would start to change the face of Oklahoma City and therefor the desirability to move and grow here.

I’m sure many of you have heard my spiel about the creation of Lake Hefner.  It was conceived as the Bluff Creek Water Supply Project in 1940 by Mayor (Judge) Robert Hefner and H. E Bailey, an engineer and the City Manager.  Most of the land was purchased but some was taken by imminent domain. The planned reservoir was reduced in size apparently in order to preserve the Gaylord Dairy operation that was located north of the current lake.  The project and bonds were sold to the citizens of Oklahoma City as a water supply lake to meet the future needs of a growing Oklahoma City AND as a great Midwestern park as the Mayor and Council agreed to the development of the reservation for recreational purposes.  The lake, which is owned by the city, is leased to the Oklahoma City Water Utilities Trust (OCWUT).

I believe the lake was leased to the Water Trust in the 1950’s and has been under their purview ever since.  At some point, or perhaps always, it was decided that no monies from the utilities side of the Water Trust would be used for the enhancement of recreational uses of the lake.  The lake land that is utilized by restaurants, the office buildings, private ball parks, clubs and organizations and I assume the golf course is leased with the lease monies purportedly used for reservation maintenance activities like grounds, trails and other infrastructure. The largest swath of land lost was to the Lake Hefner Parkway and I have not investigated that contract to see what the terms were.

Since monies for non-utility related purposes has to be generated from the land itself there exists a Catch 22.  The more land we give up for development the more money goes into the recreation fund (which by the way is not necessarily earmarked for Lake Hefner) and is thus available for recreational improvements.  However, the more land that is leased out the results in less land for recreational purposes and increased automobile traffic which makes the lake more dangerous and less attractive as a recreation destination.

There are improvements I would like to see but they take money and citizen effort

  • The dirt roads replaced with supported permeable surfaces – preferably grass
  • Open to the public ball parks for pick-up games
  • More slides (thanks grandson!)
  • Bathrooms that are open and serviced
  • Low speed trails for walkers & skaters
  • Return of the Lake Patrol/Park Police
  • Lower the acreage to park worker ratio
  • Signage consolidation and conformity
  • Improvements at the marina
  • Dredging of the lake
  • Ongoing litter removal
  • MORE TREES
  • MORE FRUITING BUSHES AND TREES
  • Less rip-rap
  • Fountains
  • More water
  • Removal of the trail bollards
  • Better accommodations for birders
  • Stop the murder of wildlife at the lake
  • South Lake Road speed limit reduced to 15 mph or even better…
  • South Lake Road blocked between Meridian and Portland so it is no longer a thoroughfare (or a high speed shortcut from Meridian to May)
  • A scale Solar System walk along the dam (call me, I’ve already designed it!)