Bud Lacy, Mayor & member of OSU faculty, said: City comm. has no authority to either approve or dissapprove OSU master plan. They can only express the city’s concerns. He said that fiscally the plan has little impact on the city because they will still pay for water, electricity and sewage disposal. He stated that loss of property taxes was minimal.
Bud said he is trying to get a panel together consisting of a couple lawyers familiar with eminent domain and appraisals and someone knowlegeable in effect of tax loss, etc. This panel would be available to homeowners to come to City Hall and ask questions of this panel. They are talking about scheduling that meeting on Tues., Nov. 29 (same as homeowners meeting scheduled…what a coincidence).
On closing of Hall of Fame Bud says he is unable to find any information stating that that street is dedicated to the public. (Who paid for it?) OSU wouldn’t have to ask City permission to close it. Bud says they have been cooperative with the city and that the comm. has not offically approached the city about Hall of Fame. The Univ. has right to acquire property and it is in the voluntary stage of acquistion and certainly it is their business, we can’t tell them not to do that.
Mr. Lacy said eminent domain dealt with a lot of legal issues & referred to the Tulsa World articles regarding the subject published Nov. 21, 2005. “We’re trying to do all we can and really don’t know anymore than you do”. (Perhaps, the comm. needs to spend the time to find out about issues involving its citizenry)
Citizen Vice Mayor Ruth Anne Kennedy: commented that she did not approve the letter being sent to the Univ., it was wimpy. She suggested strengthening the response to include the city comm. official opposition of closing Hall of Fame. Stating that the public has used that street for multiple years, she wondered if we go to legal trial, would we lose? If closed, the City would be looking at major costs associated with improvements and expanding McElroy. If the univ. wants to acquire property, we can’t stop that, but it is a great concern when they start the process using the threat of eminent domain. Rather than start the process with a “voluntary” acquirement, property owners, including City of Stillwater(a park paid for by taxpayers) received letters. We have the responsibility to insure that property owners are treated fairly. Fair compensation to property owners, and to the city for streets and infrastructure. OSU could have come to the city and let us help answer these questions before they started the process. She stated she was saddened by the actions of OSU. Up to now, there has been a pretty good relationship between the City and OSU. Eminent domain should be a last resort. When you start a conversation with “eminent domain,” it means you’re really going to poke it down my throat and stops people right there from even wanting to start the process.
Bud Lacy: There’s no question that this has not been handled well at all by the Univ.
Commissioner, Hank Moore that the master plan was to be all the stakeholders expressing viewpoints. North of McElroy was not part of that plan and was thrown in at the very, very end AFTER months and months of input. Many stakeholders were not even aware of this until they read the article concerning expansion that Stillwater Newspress published on Nov. 5. On top of that the master plan puts a lot of others at risk as to where their property investment belongs ALL AROUND campus. When threatened with eventual takeover, property owners do not take care of their property and will allow it to become a blighted area, knowing it will be taken over. This has a ripple effect. Now acquisitions affect 1-2% of our population & we have been blindsided by this univ. This is supposed to be a partnership. Businesspeople of this community, at the very beginning, went out & raised the funds to bring this Okla. college here. Master Plan misrepresented sincere proposals offered. They weren’t offered and taken genially. The Univ. is in the middle of this community. It is a vital part of it, but like every other economical development entity that we have. When Walmart came in we made them improve their properties, improve the infrastructure to their propety and the ajoining streets. Now we have this “partner” who is going to close a main E/W corridor without any compensation or consideration to the community. Long term consequences there will be a lot of dissappointed support for the univ. as a whole & the Foundation. They now lack credibility. Have said over & over that Hall of Fame would remain open. Then they tell us it is to be closed. They have harmed the City as far as capital plans for the future, looking at funds for the county, impacts the grade schools and for athletics. This is a land grant school. Athletics is not a primary priority. It’s also a disservice to the past. Ten years ago at the Old Central dedication President Halligan said that the state will have the top competitors in security, corporation appointments, correct with school admissions as well as National Scholarships. We were going to be a research univ. The City stepped up to the plate w/ the Univ. and did Tech Park and it has gone very little since that point. I feel betrayed. And I’m angry. I’m angry that we were dismissed as a business community south of campus on Washington Street. They want to move 4 blocks of businesses back to the west so they can have a view of their library. I find it offensive that the salestax payers are being stepped on for an unfunded, visionary “whatever”, and the community not be taken seriously. I for one, am opposed to closing Hall of Fame. I oppose the annexation plan as it stands. And I would propose and support the comm. to stand up and not close one street in the north annex area to allow them to build their athletic village. Those streets are ours, we’ll keep them open and you can build around them. Until we stand up to the univ. they will just continue to walk on us, as they have done for 15 or 20 yrs. I think it is time for the citizens to understand the power of this 900 lb. gorilla and how destructive it is when they cannot be held accountable for their decisions.
Next comment: With acquisition to be done by Jul 1st, does that mean that the construction is to begin Jul. 1?
Bud Lacy ended the meeting with comments I could not get on the tape of the meeting given to me.
From the Stillwater NewsPress, not on the tape given me, Jim Burtschi, former City commissioner gave history of Hall of Fame. In early 70′s commissioners were preparing a bond issue for a planned road system for the interloop of Stillwater. The univ. requsted a change in the priority list to include Hall of Fame. City citizens granted the request. He advised commisssions t work with the Board of Regents, help them understand the problems between OSU & the City.
Ray Wall, former Board of regents attny & dist. judge agreed with Burschi in working with Board & to take a clear & strong position with them
Bob Barnes, Sr. compared OSU’ annexation plans to a hostile corporate takeover. He said there is pressure from Boone, the President and the Athletic Director. “We are dealing with a man with unlimited funds who made money attempting to take over corporations. Mr. Barnes strongly encouraged property owners and concerned citizens to attend the 10:00 am Board of Regents meeting on Dec. 2, to be held at Langston Univ. in the Scholar’s Inn Clubhouse.
Ruth Ann Kennedy added that OSU’s funding mechanisms are in OKC and suggested taking complaints to a state legislative level.
Many citizens voiced their frustrations and concerns with the entire process.
Gary Shutt, director of OSU communication services said he would relay the opinions to the univ. When asked if the location of the proposed village could be changed, Shutt explained the location is a key element to the master plan, important for the vitality of the university and its energy. As far as eminent domain, that is further down the line. Shutt said closing of Hall of Fame is still in the air. Master plan does not show it closed.
Lacy challenged this statement, saying it depends on what plan you are looking at, noting he had reviewed on plan showing Hall of Fame closed.
Kennedy suggested OSU be involved on next Tues. evening’s informational meeting. She wanted OSU to be present to answer citizen’s questions. Commissioners suggested that Shutt send a decision making figure to the meeting in order to open dialogue with citizens and the City.