Greater Tulsa Reporter
Tulsa has received nearly $64 million from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, also called the “stimulus” act, for projects in the categories of crime and public safety, energy and environment, poverty and work opportunity and infrastructure. The $75 million Inner Dispersal Loop project awarded to the Oklahoma Department of Transportation has improved access to downtown Tulsa. The Tulsa Industrial Authority also was able to pass through $25 million in Recovery Zone Tax Exempt Facility Bonds to Tulsa Cancer Institute for construction of a new campus.
From the projects listed below, at least 142 jobs were directly created or sustained. Many more jobs were supported by construction companies and others that performed work under contract.
“This nationwide recovery measure has helped Tulsa as we come out of the recession,” Mayor Dewey F. Bartlett Jr. said. “We will continue to work toward full recovery in our local economy through a business-friendly environment at the City of Tulsa.”
The City of Tulsa has received grants in the following categories: crime and public safety; energy and environment; poverty and work opportunity, and infrastructure.
Stimulus funds for crime and public safety include $3,505,446 for the Community Oriented Policing Services Hiring Program, of which $581,622 has been spent. This provides salaries and benefits for 18 police officers for three years.
The City of Tulsa also received a Byrne Justice Assistance Grant for $2,789,831, of which $731,984 has been spent. This provided funds for rehiring 28 police officers that had been laid off at the beginning of 2010. Also a $74,689 Byrne Justice Assistance grant, received through the State of Oklahoma, was directed to fund a Tulsa County Sheriff’s Deputy Gang Task Force.
The City of Tulsa, partnering with the Oklahoma Coalition Against Domestic Violence, will direct a $63,373 Violence Against Women grant to fund a local statewide Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner coordinator (one job created). This project provides accessible education to nurses to ensure citizens have well-qualified examiners available to provide forensic medical examinations to rape victims.
The City of Tulsa received a $3,883,500 Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grant, and has spent $67,260 of it so far. This three-year grant provides $388,350 in funding for the City of Tulsa Office of Sustainability (one full-time job and two part-time jobs created), a $277,000 sustainability plan and $50,000 renewable energy feasibility assessment, $647,121 in new LED traffic signals and pedestrian signals for downtown Tulsa, a $1.4 million energy retrofit for the Oklahoma State University Medical Center – boilers, chillers and lights; and $1 million to upgrade lighting in City facilities, buy new energy saving equipment for water treatment plants and replace runway lighting at the airport..
Bids for several of the energy efficiency and conservation projects have come in lower than initially budgeted. This will allow the City of Tulsa to add elements to existing projects and to implement recommendations from the sustainability plan beginning in the summer of 2011. Deadline to use the funds is July 2012.
“In Tulsa we are striving to lead the way to develop alternative and renewable energy,” Mayor Bartlett said. “This grant will enable us to continue our energy efficiency programs.”
The Metropolitan Tulsa Transit Authority received $8.9 million to purchase 48 buses fueled with compressed natural gas, or CNG, and $3,840,000 for infrastructure to support these CNG buses. These funds have enabled Tulsa Transit to keep its drivers employed and to hire local Tulsa labor for conversion of buses from diesel to CNG. Tulsa Transit has used $555,000 of its stimulus funding to repair its shop floor and roof, paint, place shelters at bus stops and replace its radio system.
The City received a $2 million stimulus grant and a nearly $8.4 million loan from the Oklahoma Water Resources Board for anaerobic digesters at the Northside Wastewater Treatment Plant and odor control at the Southside Wastewater Treatment Plant. The Southside project is complete, and the Northside project is 50 percent complete. These projects enabled jobs to be saved with the contractors that did the work.
Improvements also included the City of Tulsa’s drinking water system, to replace waterlines that are smaller than 6 inches in diameter with lines that are at least 6 inches in diameter. This upgrade also has resulted in improved fire protection through better water pressure from fire hydrants.
The City received a $1.6 million stimulus grant and another $8.4 million loan from the Oklahoma Water Resources Board to replace more than 63,000 linear feet of waterline. These funds were divided into four construction contracts, each covering a defined area of the city. Three of the four projects are completed, and one will be complete by the end of January 2011. These projects enabled jobs to be saved with the contractors that did the work.
The City of Tulsa implemented a $2.1 million workforce investment grant through a contract with Arbor E & T (Education and Training) located at the Eastgate Metroplex. Of that amount, $1.9 million has been spent on a highly successful summer youth internship program, as well as
providing help for adults to find employment, and for dislocated workers to receive training to find other jobs. Through this stimulus grant, 87 jobs were created or retained.
“My most important goal as mayor is to bring jobs to Tulsa,” Mayor Bartlett said. “The only way we are going to move forward past this recession is to develop more work opportunities so our residents stay in this city to raise their families.”
Stimulus money for the Homeless Prevention and Rapid Re-Housing Program through the Department of Housing and Urban Development was passed to the Tulsa Day Center for the Homeless. This program provides help with rent, utilities, moving costs, and security deposits. Of the $1.5 million grant, $904,391 has been spent and four jobs were created or retained. This funding has prevented 3,156 individuals from becoming homeless and has helped 434 individuals who were homeless to find housing quickly and become stabilized.
“We’ve been humbled by the individuals and families seeking assistance,” said Tulsa Day Center for the Homeless Executive Director Sandra Lewis. “Many of these people have been severely impacted by the economic downturn and have not been in a situation before where they’ve had to ask for assistance. Some are even professionals with college degrees. We’ve had people who have lost their jobs, used up their savings and exhausted every other opportunity to keep from becoming homeless. We are concerned that as this program winds down the need will remain great.”
A nearly $1 million Community Development Block Grant awarded to Tulsa provided funding for construction of The Shoppes on Peoria and to help the City’s Working In Neighborhoods Department target three neighborhoods for improvement: Suburban Hills, Suburban Acres/Valley View I & II, and Carriage Trails. Of this nearly $1 million, $248,844 has been spent so far.
The grant was divided equally between the two projects, with $445,374 to help the Greenwood Chamber of Commerce and North Tulsa Economic Development Initiative construct The Shoppes on Peoria, a shopping center in north Tulsa. This project enabled jobs to be saved with the contractors that did the work.
Also, the City’s Working In Neighborhoods department, or WIN, received $445,374 to help stabilize and revitalize the three neighborhoods. WIN was able to add one full-time position to devote to this project. WIN seeks to improve neighborhoods through code enforcement, investment in infrastructure, and other activities.
“Tulsa cannot be prosperous as a whole without progress in all areas of the city. Our administration has been focusing on areas of Tulsa that have been neglected- especially the west, north and northeast areas of Tulsa,” Mayor Bartlett said. “We must always be mindful that we are, after all, ‘One Tulsa’.”
The largest category of stimulus funding in Tulsa was for street maintenance, allowing projects to be constructed sooner than originally scheduled. The largest stimulus project for which the Oklahoma Department of Transportation received funding was the $75 million reconstruction of the north and west legs of the Inner Dispersal Loop. This project included roadway reconstruction, replacement of more than 40 bridge decks, and safety upgrades. The IDL project began in July 2009, and is scheduled for completion in early 2011. The west leg already has been reopened to traffic.
For Tulsa’s city streets, a total of $15.8 million has been distributed through the Oklahoma Department of Transportation for 16 arterial street maintenance projects. Nine of these have been completed, one is nearly completed, and the remaining six projects are either more than half completed or close to half completed.
Completed street projects include the following:
? Mohawk Boulevard between North Cincinnati Avenue and North Hartford Avenue
? East 31st Street between South 129th East Avenue and South 145th East Avenue
? East 41st Street between South Sheridan Road and Interstate 44
? Admiral Place and Mingo Road intersection
? South Yale Avenue between East 31st Street and East 36th Street
? North Yale Avenue between East Admiral Place and East Pine Street
? Southwest Boulevard between West 23rd Street South and the Arkansas River
? South Harvard Avenue between East Admiral Place and East 11th Street
? Admiral Place and Garnett Road intersection
? Riverside Parkway between 68th Street and 71st Street (will be complete in February)
Projects more than half or close to half completed include:
? South Sheridan Road between East Admiral Place and East 11th Street;
? South Sheridan Road between East 11th Street and East 21st Street;
? South Sheridan Road and East 21st Street intersection;
? South Union Avenue between West 71st Street and West 81st Street;
? East 61st Street between South Yale Avenue and South Sheridan Road
? South Lewis Avenue between East 21st Street and East 31st Street;
These projects were approved by Tulsa voters in the 2005 General Obligation Bond Issue and 2006 Third Penny Sales Tax elections. Because of the requirement to use the federal funding right away, motorists in Tulsa have had to adjust to a sudden increase in road construction. This federal road funding has helped to construct these projects during recovery from the recession – cushioning our sales tax shortfalls and keeping local contractors busy.