Gov. Mary Fallin believes that deals the state entered into to sell Oklahoma parkland at Lake Texoma to the private developer Pointe Vista Development are fundamentally flawed, and that state officials should not have signed the contracts as written, she said through a spokesman.
The deals, including a contract between the Oklahoma Tourism and Recreation Department and Pointe Vista that the state released to The Oklahoman late Friday, lack proper safeguards and recourse for the state to ensure the development proceeds as promised, Fallin spokesman Alex Weintz said.
The Tourism Department's contract with Pointe Vista also should not have been subject to a confidentiality agreement, which has barred the public from reviewing the document, Weintz said.
The agency released the contract to The Oklahoman after securing Pointe Vista's permission to do so. Although the Tourism and Recreation Commission voted to approve the contract at a public meeting in 2008, the agency contends the agreement is not subject to state open records laws.
“The governor believes that any contract with Pointe Vista for the sale of land at Lake Texoma should have included a mechanism to ensure that timelines for construction and development were met and that the state had recourse if they were not,” Weintz said in a statement. “She also believes that any contract should have been public and contained no language attempting to make it secret. She would not have signed the contract as it was agreed to by the previous administration and previous state personnel.”
During her tenure as lieutenant governor, Fallin was an early supporter of privatizing state parkland. During her time in the U.S. House of Representatives, she and Rep. Tom Cole co-sponsored a bill in 2007 to help clear up the ownership of 227 acres of Lake Texoma State Park land that the federal government had a claim to, further paving the way for private development. The legislation allowed for the transfer of Lake Texoma shoreline from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to the state Tourism Department.
The $750 million to $1 billion Pointe Vista development on Catfish Bay in Marshall County was touted as a way to bring new investment to Lake Texoma State Park when first announced more than five years ago, but construction on a four-star hotel, water park and high-end shops and restaurants that were promised for the area have yet to move forward. Pointe Vista has blamed the economic downturn of 2008 for a lack of funding for the project, as well as a lack of infrastructure on the site.