We agree with state senator Josh Brecheen on several points. The best option for Pointe Vista and our local economy is for them to donate the land and walk away from their 758 acre project. But, the “new developer” should be a locally-controlled, public benefit corporation with the immediate goal of fully restoring Lake Texoma State Park. This public benefit corporation would include local community leaders with experience. Pointe Vista’s commercial resort concept would never be successful here.
Brecheen acknowledged that Pointe Vista’s law firm wrote the state land purchase contracts. Governor Fallin, Ag Commissioner Jim Reese and Auditor Gary Jones have each said there are serious problems with those contracts, their vagueness, and their enforceability. Since Pointe Vista is also the single largest land speculator adjacent to Lake Texoma State Park, based on their land-buying spree over the past six years, they will benefit as much as Marshall County if the park is restored to its historic footprint.
If you go back to the original Requests for Proposal issued by the Commissioners of the Land Office in 2004, you will note that a more modest commercial development on the north side of US Hwy 70E, plus a fully restored Lake Texoma State Park to the south of the highway, was the original vision put forth by the state.
If the park was to be completely restored, there would be no need for a full Environmental Impact Study taking another 3-4 years of our valuable time. Area C would not be sold, but retained by the Corps of Engineers and continued to be leased to the state. The park would be returned to its public recreational uses.
Kingston residents and businesses have already suffered seven years since the lodge and cabins were shut down. Rather than find a new developer, as senator Brecheen suggests, we support the creation of a public benefit corporation to oversee, coordinate, construct and manage a new, state-of-the-art Lake Texoma State Park.
This is our letter to Governor Fallin and the Commissioners of the Land Office, and what we at Restore The Park would like to see happen.
Governor, in July you said 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.” (The Oklahoman, 7/31/2013) Your spokesman said that you “would not have signed the contract as it was agreed to by the previous administration and previous state personnel.” (The Ardmoreite, 8/2/2013)
In May, two of your fellow Commissioners of the Land Office (CLO) commented on Pointe Vista’s failure to begin construction. Both found serious problems with the CLO’s 2008 land sale contracts. State Auditor Gary Jones said, “I would not have agreed to this contract as it is written. It is very vague as to some of the milestones.” Ag Department commissioner Jim Reese said, “I would prefer that this be resolved out of court…” (Madill Record, 5/09/2013). It was also reported that, “Pointe Vista continues to remain committed to the Lake Texoma project and continues to expend substantial time and resources.”
The only thing Pointe Vista has done on time has been to make their land payments. They have no water or sewer services for a hotel or convention center. In 2011, they and the Tourism Department abandoned their federal environmental review. They have no environmental approvals for their planned 3,000 acre development. Based on these facts, it doesn’t appear they plan on doing anything but acquire Lake Texoma State Park.
State Senator Brecheen said that Pointe Vista’s law firm (McAfee & Taft) drafted the state’s 2008 land sales contracts (Area A, B and C). State officials are also now aware that once Pointe Vista’s final payment is received by the CLO in January, all other contract obligations fall away. That leaves Pointe Vista with 758 acres of our park land. It leaves us with nothing. This is a bad deal for the state.
This is why we’re asking you and the CLO to void Pointe Vista’s 2008 contracts on Area A, B and C. You have no obligation to honor contracts which are so one-sided as to be unenforceable. We are asking you to admit this has not worked out, and to take back our park lands, and fully restore Lake Texoma State Park.
Nine years ago, CLO officials said that local residents would guide the Lake Texoma Redevelopment. With your leadership, and the creation of a new public benefit authority, we can put the Public back into this “public/private partnership.”
We request your help to Restore Lake Texoma State Park and rebuild this critical economic engine, providing relief and new jobs in southeastern Oklahoma. Job creation has been the focus of your administration. Now is the time to put these ideas into motion.