Lawsuit to Block Sale of Helmerich Park Land Sent Back to District Court

Sep 11, 2017

Protesters opposed to the sale of a portion of Helmerich Park gathered there in April. The Oklahoma Supreme Court will let a lawsuit seeking to block the sale proceed in district court.
Credit Matt Trotter / KWGS

The Oklahoma Supreme Court will not take up a lawsuit against the City of Tulsa that seeks to block the sale of Helmerich Park land.

The city asked the Oklahoma Supreme Court last month to assume jurisdiction over the case, which was originally filed in August 2015. That request came after Tulsa District Court Judge Jefferson Sellers denied the city's motion to dismiss the lawsuit in June.

City Attorney David O'Meilia argued the district court doesn't have subject-matter jurisdiction, but the case now goes back to Sellers' courtroom.

“We’re prepared to fight this in district court, and we believe we have the winning arguments,” said former Tulsa Mayor Terry Young.

The city and the plaintiffs in the lawsuit failed to reach an agreement in the dispute through arbitration in January. In March, Mayor G.T. Bynum proposed a compromise that the city council approved but plaintiffs have not agreed to.

Through Bynum's proposal, the city and Tulsa Public Facilities Authority declared 8.8 acres of Helmerich Park surplus and abandoned it. The city and TPFA want to sell the land to Dallas developer UCR for a retail development purportedly anchored by outdoor goods store REI.