County commissioners buy land for a new juvenile center

Tulsa County commissioners voted to buy property downtown at 10 N. Elwood Ave. to build a new juvenile detention center.

After two years of discussion, the commissioners voted 3-0 to buy 7.2 acres that was previously owned by Storey Wrecker, who for years had the contract for wrecker services for the City of Tulsa.

The price is $5.6 million.

The commission had previously considered a site near 36th Street North and Martin Luther King Boulevard. State Rep. Regina Goodwin and former lawmaker Judy Eason McIntyre lobbied against that location because they didn’t want to be a “dumping ground for social service agencies.”

Commissioner John Smaligo said that was a better site but he voted for the downtown location anyway. The site is just south of the Tulsa Jail. Commissioners also considered sites outside the city limits of Tulsa within the county. Work on the site is expected to begin in April with completion in the fall of 2018.

On April 5, county voters approved an increase in sales tax of .041 percent that will add $45,000,000.00 for construction of the new center. The present detention center is at 315 S. Gilcrease Road in West Tulsa.

“First, we serve youth and their families,” said Commissioner Karen Keith. “So we needed a site that was well connected by transit. Second, we wanted to make sure that we were a fit with the neighborhood and also that the neighborhood fit with us. Third, we wanted to maximize cost efficiencies with both the courthouse and our law enforcement staff, so we wanted to be a reasonable distance from the main courthouse. Fourth, we wanted to make sure we had a facility that could accommodate the many community partners that will ultimately help these kids get on the right road in life. We know that government and the courts are not the whole answer- True community intervention takes working in partnership with public, private, non-profit, and faith-based groups.”

Justin Jones, the Tulsa County Juvenile Bureau Director added his support to the new site. “This location has all the requirements we needed… close bus routes, easy access, close proximity to other social agencies we rely on and government operations that rely on us. This will be a fantastic facility,“ he said.

County officials spent considerable time looking at land options and conducting due diligence. Due to the historical use of the property including industrial and manufacturing uses, Tulsa County consulted with the Oklahoma Department of Environmental Quality as well as existing environmental reports. While additional analysis will be conducted, only minor remediation will be required to prepare the site for construction.

The Juvenile Division of Tulsa County District Court handles a variety of cases including those involving child abuse and neglect, adoption and juvenile delinquency.