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Oklahoma City could try to recover American Indian center land

The deed, signed nine years ago when Oklahoma City transferred the land to the state, includes a condition that the property “be used solely for the development and operation” of the cultural center and museum.
by William Crum Published: May 19, 2014
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Oklahoma City could seek return of the riverfront land reserved for the American Indian Cultural Center and Museum if the state fails to finish the project, a city leader told The Oklahoman on Monday.

Money to complete the center was left out of last Friday’s $7.1 billion budget deal between the state Legislature and Gov. Mary Fallin.

With the project unfinished amid growing doubts that it ever will be, Oklahoma City Manager Jim Couch said Monday that officials have a responsibility to city taxpayers to “go back and recover what we can.”

“We believed until Friday that it was going to get funded,” Couch said.

The unfinished $170 million center stands on the south bank of the Oklahoma River just off Eastern Avenue, near the junction of Interstates 40 and 35. The site consists of about 300 acres of prime property downstream from the city’s Boathouse District.

With the governor’s support, the state Senate agreed this spring to a $40 million proposal to match $40 million in pledges and complete the center. The state House refused to go along.

The deed, signed nine years ago when the city transferred the land to the state, includes a condition that the property “be used solely for the development and operation” of the cultural center and museum.

The deed states that the city “prior to exercising its right of entry for breach of the foregoing conditions” must give the Native American Cultural and Educational Authority, the state agency authorized to construct and operate the center, 60 days written notice of the basis for a breach of the conditions.

Couch said there were no firm plans to deliver such notice. But he said city officials have a responsibility to residents to protect their investment.

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by William Crum
Reporter
OU and Norman High School graduate, formerly worked as a reporter and editor for the Associated Press, the Star Tribune in Minneapolis, and the Norman Transcript. Married, two children, lives in Norman.
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