Coates: Native American center construction at risk

CapitolBeatOK Staff Report

Published: 01-Jun-2010

In a post-session press release, state Sen. Harry Coates of Seminole laments that a $43 million dollar bond package failed to receive floor votes on the last day of the legislative session. The Bond designed to attract another $45 million in private donations was intended to complete the American Indian Cultural Center and Museum being built in Oklahoma City, but never came to a final vote in the rush, last Friday, toward adjournment of the 2010 session. Sen. Coates, a Republican, said that as a result, construction on the incomplete facility will be forced to a standstill.

“Right now there are enough funds to keep moving forward for a few more months, then everything shuts down,” Coates said, noting that when construction completely stops depends on how remaining funds are allocated. “This center is poised to make Oklahoma a national and international destination with enormous economic benefits for our state. I’m shocked and extremely disappointed that legislative leaders failed to make sure this came to a vote.”

The Conference Committee Substitute for Senate Bill 1497 authorized $43 million in bonds, contingent upon collection of $45 million in private funding. The measure was not signed out by House Conference Committee members until late Friday, and then was not heard in the Senate.

Coates said the bond package was a critical component of the financing necessary to complete the $170 million world-class facility. The completion goal for the complex, which would cover 250 acres and include 125,000 square feet of building space, was 2014. When complete, the twenty-year economic impact projection was that the center would generate $3.8 billion.

“Delaying completion delays the economic benefits for Oklahoma and likely drives up the final costs.  At the very least, this was terribly short-sighted. It seriously undermines one of the most significant projects we have going in our state,” Coates said.