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Safety center, housing prominent in Bynum's $772M improvement plan

City of Tulsa

The plan isn't finalized, but is expected to go before voters in August.

On Wednesday, Tulsa Mayor G.T. Bynum rolled out his proposed Improve Our Tulsa plan to city council — and it includes a few bold moves in housing and public safety.

The plan would use $772 million mostly from pre-existing sales taxes and bonds for street improvements, a new public safety center and even a new housing initiative.

The plan is not yet finalized, but is expected to go before voters in August.

Some of the proposed appropriations include:

  • Nearly $280 million for streets projects. That total was driven up by $94 million to account for inflation.
  • $249 million for city facilities, including the demolition of the police station and municipal court in downtown. Bynum proposed police, fire and emergency management be moved to a catch-all facility on the east side of Tulsa. This portion also includes nearly $80 million for facilities and Americans with Disabilities Act upgrades in the Tulsa Performing Arts Center.
  • More than $100 million for a city housing initiative, including $75 million for housing itself.

The proposed money for housing comes after Bynum announced at State of the City 2022 that he wants half a billion in housing investments in the city by the end of 2024. He acknowledged the newness of the request, which has never been included in a city improvement plan.
"There's a historic need in our community to get housing built, and that requires a historic response from the city of Tulsa," Bynum said.

Before his presentation, Development Strategies principal Andy Pfister told councilors that the city needed all kinds of housing in all parts of the city to stay regionally affordable.

When discussing the demolition of the police station, Bynum pointed to how the building contaminates drinking water. On a January tour, Tulsa police chief Wendell Franklin told councilors that sewage has dripped down into the municipal courtroom in the building.

Bynum said municipal court would best stay downtown, even though a location has not yet been determined.

Bynum said his ask is $163 million more than originally announced. And that's more than $1 billion less than what Bynum believes are legitimate asks from the needs requests.

"For everything you see on here, there's a billion-plus of stuff that did not get funded, but is still important for our community," Bynum said.

Council president Crista Patrick said the package is a starting point, but that more money for infrastructure will be needed in the future.

Max Bryan is a news anchor and reporter for KWGS. A Tulsa native, Bryan worked at newspapers throughout Arkansas and in Norman before coming home to "the most underrated city in America." Several of Bryan's news stories have either led to or been cited in changes both in the public and private sectors.