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City commission recommends moving several Route 66 planters to east Tulsa site

A commission recommends moving about one-third of the city’s concrete planters dotting Route 66 to east Tulsa in an effort to better identify the historic highway there.

Of the 48 planters purchased with funds from a 2003 sales tax package, 46 remain, and the Tulsa Route 66 Commission wants 16 of them placed on Mingo Road at 11th Street, where there’s an interpretive plaza and recreation area.

"It's a great little plaza that doesn't get a whole lot of attention today, but we're hoping by relocating them over there, they'll not only be more cost-effective to maintain but will highlight an area to encourage people to stop and learn a little bit more about Route 66," said commission member Rhys Martin.

Less of east Tulsa's portion of Route 66 has been developed, making it easier to lose track of it there. Several more historic attractions are just about a mile north of 11th and Mingo on the Admiral alignment of the Mother Road, and the planters can also serve as a visual cue that helps connect the two segments. 

"Tourists, when they're coming from either point from out of town, they're looking for visual cues to say, 'Am I on the right street? Am I on the right road?' So, I think we're there," said Tulsa Planning Office Planner Dennis Whitaker, who helped create the 2005 Route 66 Master Plan that included the planters.

The commission also recommended transferring ownership or developing license agreements for the city's main street programs to maintain several of the concrete planters. There are 19 planters along Southwest Boulevard that will remain where they are, and Kendall Whittier will receive five more, making the district home to eight in total.

A few planters installed downtown will stay in place: two at Tulsa Community College and one at an Avis rental car location inside a restored cottage-style gas station.

"So, those three are just good, strategic promotion for downtown, where we're kind of weak because of all the vacant lots and lack of activity in that part of downtown, anyway," Whitaker said.

The planters to be moved to 11th and Mingo would be capped with concrete so they aren’t used as trash bins or grow weeds, and they would be placed on concrete pads that mowers can easily pass over. The city must approve the relocation, but the commission would pay the roughly $10,000 cost for it from its budget.

The concrete planters originally cost $25,000 to purchase and install. Over the years, two have been destroyed in car crashes.

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.
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