It is difficult for me to believe that the Board of Regents would possibly approve the proposed acquisition of homes and property from the OSU campus, North to Eskridge, in order to develop an underfunded Athletic Village. The citizens of Stillwater have great concerns regarding this acquisition for many reasons:
1. OSU already owns a tremendous amount of property in the City of Stillwater which would serve their purposes better, or at least, equally as well.
2. The closing of primary streets in the City. OSU will not directly state that Hall of Fame and McElroy will be closed, but they have certainly implied such. These are both streets the taxpayers have funded. OSU will simply “acquire” them, with no compensation to the City.
3. The method of the take over of approximately 410 properties, some are homes in which elderly people have resided for many years.
4. The fact that most people think of “fair” as meaning “equal”. Compensation offered to property owners being forced into “sales”, is not adequate to buy an equivalent home elsewhere in the City. Is that “fair”? A decision to sell, is not the property owner’s luxury..
5. A significant loss of tax revenue will negatively impact the City and the Schools. Stillwater taxpayers will be asked to “take up the slack” for loss of revenue due to OSU’s take over of the properties currently owned by Stillwater residents.
7. None of the above concerns is as great as the concern for the manner in which OSU has forged ahead with their plans, in total disregard and disrespect, not only for property owners, but for the citizens and the City of Stillwater as well.
OSU is proceeding as if the funding for the project is in place. In fact, according to Gary Clark, there is only limited funding, available for voluntary acquisitions of the said properties in the current master plan.
The university could use these funds to actually begin construction of the project if it would utilize land it already owns rather than destroying homes of Stillwater’s citizens.
OSU is also proceeding as if the Board of Regents has already approved the Master Plan. It is my understanding that approval or disapproval of the plan is not scheduled to take place until December, 2, 2005.
OSU has shown a great lack of sensitivity, and little desire to work with the City of Stillwater and its citizens. Much ill will toward the University has been created. In the past, there has been an honored and congenial partnership between the City of Stillwater and OSU. However, OSU is now adopting tactics of a corporate hostile take over. I experienced these same tactics when I lived in Bartlesville and Mr. Pickens attempted a take over of Phillips Petroleum Company. Surely these are not truly the tactics of our beloved Oklahoma State University. Is the tail wagging the dog?
I urge you NOT to approve the current proposed OSU Master Plan.
Ann Bernhardt Cramer Williams