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Tulsa County nears $41M in American Rescue Plan allocations after approving up to $3M for tennis center

An expansion would add three more indoor courts to the Case Tennis Center at LaFortune Park.
An expansion would add three more indoor courts to the Case Tennis Center at LaFortune Park.

Tulsa County has allocated nearly two-thirds of the American Rescue Plan funding made available earlier this year.

The county received its first tranche of $63 million from the coronavirus relief package in May. To date, commissioners have approved allocations totaling nearly $41 million.

The county will receive its second tranche next year, and all funds must be allocated by the end of 2024.

County Commissioner Ron Peters said they have an efficient process in place with a committee reviewing funding applications and submitting recommendations to the board on an almost weekly basis.

"Well, I think we all feel pretty good about how we've been able to move the funds out in the community to where they're needed, as opposed to others who seem to not be able to do that," Peters said.

Projects related to COVID-19 response account for 31% of approved American Rescue Plan funds, while economic development projects account for 40%.

Commissioners agreed Monday to give up to $3 million toward another expansion of the Case Tennis Center at LaFortune Park. A fundraising campaign to pay for three additional indoor courts and other amenities was put on hold during the pandemic.

While the expansion could lure more marquee tournaments, Tulsa County Parks Director of Tennis Operations Melissa McCorkle said it will also be good for the First Serve program offering tennis lessons and academic tutoring to disadvantaged kids.

"That program has continued to grow, and it's really outgrown our space that we have now. We also have a program for students with special needs that we teach tennis to and they're able to do it. So, that program, too, continues to grow. We just wanted to have a special place for all those programs to be able to house and be available for them, and out of the weather," McCorkle said.

County Parks Director Vince Trinidad said the actual work can’t begin until it’s fully paid for, but they are working with an architect.

"We're going to completely take a look at the entire area of LaFortune, that northeastern part of the park, to really have more connectivity, more parking spots. We're going to move some croquet courts to an existing area that's already built for them," Trinidad said.

The same committee vetting ARPA requests also makes recommendations for funding from the county’s share of the CARES Act, the previous federal virus relief package. The commission approved $15,000 Monday for VFW Post 3077 in Collinsville to buy a new heating and cooling system. Post Judge Advocate Neal York said the relatively small amount is a huge deal for them.

"Our dollars in pretty much equals our dollars out. So, if we hit any kind of a bump in the road or a snag, it can be devastating," York said.

Matt Trotter joined KWGS as a reporter in 2013. Before coming to Public Radio Tulsa, he was the investigative producer at KJRH. His freelance work has appeared in the Los Angeles Times and on MSNBC and CNN.