Route 66 in the News

Task Force Being Formed

2012-01-13 18:23:07

TULSA, Okla. - City Councilor Blake Ewing wants his planned Route 66 Task Force to be large and inclusive, he said Thursday.

Ewing said he's been fielding a lot of interest from people wanting to be involved with the task force, which will look for ways to capitalize on Tulsa's 24-mile stretch of the Mother Road, since he first announced it in Sunday's Tulsa World.

"This is going to be open to anyone and everyone in the community," he told his fellow councilors during a meeting.

"We are assembling that list now. If we get 50 people who want to be on the task force, we'll figure out how to do that with committees and subcommittees. Let's welcome the enthusiasts."

Some ideas include creating tax increment financing districts along Route 66 to help spur development, with the taxes generated being invested in improvements, and looking for federal brownfield grants to clean up some of the vacant, dilapidated structures along the road, he said.

The councilor also envisions a fund being established for the city or the Tulsa Development Authority to purchase neglected properties and turn them into meeting locations for car clubs until they can be resold for commercial purposes.

Ewing said he also would like to encourage businesses along Route 66 to upgrade their signs to sleek neon versions.

Tulsa's Route 66 corridor, which tracks along 11th Street through the city and then curves south in west Tulsa, also needs to be better marketed, he said, noting that many of the official Route 66 maps bypass it.

"It's the No. 1 tourism attraction in the world," he said. "Tulsa, I think, has failed to appropriately take advantage of this asset."

Great things are already happening through a $15 million Vision 2025 investment to make Route 66 improvements and attractions and through the Route 66 Village in Red Fork, Ewing noted.

"But there's much more we can do," he said. "Let's get all of these things in one conversation, in one room and under one umbrella."

The council is expected to vote before the end of January on a resolution to formally create the task force.

Once that is done, the group will begin meeting shortly thereafter, Ewing said.

Congress created Route 66 in 1926 as a national highway, with its 2,450 miles running from Chicago to Los Angeles.

~Brian Barber, Tulsa World


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