Tulsa County Votes on Potential Juvenile Center Site

TULSA, Okla. — On Oct. 5, the Tulsa County Commissioners unanimously voted to withdraw a purchase offer for the proposed site of a new juvenile justice center. Although Tulsa County had put down a $5,000 earnest payment on the site, the commission ultimately voted to authorize a withdrawal of the offer after community input.

“There was a lot of misinformation, and there was just no stopping it,” Karen Keith, the county commissioner who was heading up the search for the new $45 million facility, told the Tulsa World. The neighborhood had already expressed concern about the new center, which many viewed as a correctional facility. However, Keith told the Tulsa World that the facility is not a jail. While it is planned to hold 60 beds, it is instead a facility to help rehabilitate juveniles.

The county had taken steps to purchase a 57-acre lot, with the center planned for the north side of the property, according to Tulsa World; the rest of the property would have remained available for development. The county could not fully determine the site’s viability as issues remain with the 20 stripper wells located on the property.

Jack Henderson, a Tulsa city councilor, told the Tulsa World that the proposed center did not fit the community’s vision in the long run. That long-term plan includes promoting cultural tourism for the Tulsa area, said Kevin Matthews, Oklahoma state senator.

The project, which was authorized by Tulsa County voters in 2014, would “be a place of healing that becomes part of the fabric of the community,” Keith told the Tulsa World. The center was planned to include family courts, counseling centers and education programs, improving on the current juvenile facility, which has experienced operational difficulties.

At the moment, the county has no firm plans as to where the new juvenile center will be located, but continues to look for alternative sites. Tulsa Juvenile Bureau officials said they don’t want the new center to be in an industrial area, nor do they want it within the sight of adult correctional facilities.