September 21, 2013

A Senate Review by Senator Josh Brecheen
Sen. Brecheen calls upon Pointe Vista officials to move forward

with their Lake Texoma project or gracefully step aside

I’ve been hesitant to write this column hoping for a development, or even a miracle, concerning the Pointe Vista development at Lake Texoma. I’ve lost that hope; and I’m writing this to both the constituents of Senate District 6 and the investors of Pointe Vista LLC.
Recently, following urging from myself and others, members of the Commission of the Land Office have visited Lake Texoma State Park. This was important to ensure that these five members, who have the voting power to protect Oklahoma’s interest regarding the Pointe Vista contract, truly understood the loss of tourism and business that our area has suffered since the destruction of the Texoma State Lodge.
The CLO board has five members - the Governor, Lt. Governor, State Auditor and Inspector, State Superintendent, and the Secretary of Agriculture. Rep. Hardin, Rep. Roberts and I are as frustrated as anyone and know well the harm felt by many of you. I’ve spent countless hours petitioning these members sharing the frustration and feedback from constituents in the district. Unfortunately, as area state legislators, this is all we can do as we have no constitutional authority over this land agreement with Pointe Vista and the CLO board. The power to affect change - because of the state constitution and the contract - lies with the CLO board and Pointe Vista alone, not the legislature.
The CLO board recently made the decision to retain outside legal counsel, which sent a strong signal to the Pointe Vista investors that the state means business in seeing the contract adhered to. This is a small victory for the area and came from your countless petition efforts and meeting attendance. Your concern and dedication has made an impact with the CLO.
Unfortunately a key issue remains: the contract is one-sided. It was drafted and signed in 2008 by Pointe Vista investors and the Commissioners of the Land Office at that time. We now know that the contract was written/drafted not by the state, but by the legal counsel for the proprietors of Pointe Vista LLC.
It’s important to note that not a single member currently serving on the CLO board signed the contract in 2008. Additionally, the current directors within the CLO and Oklahoma Department of Tourism were also not a part of signing the contract in 2008. Despite this, however, the state and current CLO board members are still required to abide by that legal contract’s conditions.
At the time the contract was signed there was great enthusiasm about Pointe Vista’s prospects, but as the economic recession hit, the exact wording of that contract has become much more important than the touted proposal. The state never should have signed the contract given what we know now.
The 2008 contract leaves very little leverage for the CLO board in negotiating a timely completion for the 4-Star hotel, planned for completion in 2014. The legal term pertaining to ensuring that time line is followed in “specific performance” is the state’s only leverage to petition a judge to force Pointe Vista to comply by the conditions of the contract. There was a $1 million performance bond held by the state but the contract says that this bond is held only to ensure payment of the land acquisition of what is known as Areas A and B ($14 million total price tag) and not completion of the 4-Star/$50 million hotel.
It was ill-advised of the CLO board in 2008 to sign something that put the state in such an inferior position. This is a lesson our state must learn from and, unfortunately, our district continues to pay for dearly.
The current CLO board now has few options in addressing the situation. They can vote to go to court and declare breach of contract with Pointe Vista and bog through years of litigation while our area continues to suffer with the expected end that a judge would force compliance. The CLO board could vote to give Pointe Vista a contractual extension and allow the completion deadline of the hotel to continue for who knows how long at a great cost to area residents and businesses. Lastly, the CLO can also appeal to Pointe Vista as a citizen, taxpayer and fellow Oklahoman and request they relinquish themselves of the property of Areas A and B and allow the state the option of finding another investor who will complete the project much sooner and not hold our area hostage for the unforeseeable future.
I believe the best option for you and I is to petition the CLO board to consider the last option.
Now a word to the investors. Mr. Fisher, I believe you and your partners started with honorable intentions for the Texoma area that would have benefited our area greatly yet, as you know, what has materialized has led to economic loss and caused harm to many. As a fellow Oklahoman, if you’re going to have to petition the CLO board for a contract extension that’s going to span several years rather than months, I respectfully ask you to put the interests of the state above your business interests and assist the CLO in finding another entity who can and will move forward quickly with this project. I believe to do so would be the honorable thing to do.
To contact me at the Capitol, please write to Senator Josh Brecheen, State Capitol, 2300 N. Lincoln Blvd. Room 513A, Oklahoma City, OK, 73105, email me at brecheen@oksenate.gov, or call (405) 521-5586.