CLO Settlement Violates State, Federal Laws

by Stephen on 10/01/2015

There are both state and federal legal issues with the Pointe Vista settlement proposed by the Commissioners of the Land Office (CLO). These should concern local counties most impacted by the continuing illegal conversion (privatization) of Lake Texoma State Park.

With the proposed settlement, all of Pointe Vista’s counter claims are accepted by the CLO as legally binding. The state proposes to release Pointe Vista from their contracted development requirements and repurchase no more than fifty acres (of 758) sold in 2008.

Park land sold to Pointe Vista is federally-protected. Multiple matching state and federal grants were invested by the taxpayers since the sixties to improve Lake Texoma State Park.

In addition, the state law which authorized the Lake Texoma Redevelopment stated that replacement park land would be identified and purchased at Lake Texoma, not half way across the state. This law was conveniently ignored over the past ten years. It would have ensured that Marshall County was the preferred location of the replacement park land.

 

The LWCF funds and protects public parks “in perpetuity.”

This settlement precludes the CLO and Tourism Department from complying with the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) Act and state law.

“The Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) was established in 1965 to provide matching funds to the states for the acquisition of lands and development of outdoor recreation areas. Those parks and recreation areas acquired and/or developed in whole or in part with LWCF assistance are protected by Section 6(f)(3) of the LWCF Act of 1965, as amended.”

Section 6(f)(3) of the Act prohibits the conversion of Lake Texoma State Park “without the approval of the Secretary of Interior.”

As long as there remained the possibility of bringing Areas A & B back into public ownership, it would have been possible to bring those 758 acres back into compliance with the LWCF Act.

Since the CLO proposes to leave over 700 acres in Pointe Vista’s private ownership, this would permanently violate the federal protections of the LWCF Act.

 

The CLO sponsored the Lake Texoma Redevelopment in 2004.

Current assistant secretary Keith Kuhlman said, “the golf courses and hotel areas would be leased” to maximize the return on investment for the School Lands Trust (CLO). Pointe Vista’s law firm McAfee & Taft wrote these purchase agreements which were signed by former CLO secretary Clifton Scott and Mark Fischer, Point Vista owner.

When they visited Kingston in 2013, the CLO expressed shock at the “toothless” 2008 land contracts with Pointe Vista. The one thing that both the CLO and Pointe Vista attorneys agreed on was that “specific performance” (the right to order the project forward) was contained in the contracts.

Without trying their case to determine the merits of their claims, the CLO proposes to relieve Pointe Vista of their contract for the hotel and convention center. This deal was the reason the land was sold to them in the first place.

 

In 2004, the Corps of Engineers conducted a limited Environmental Assessment (EA) on the transfer of 564 acres at Lake Texoma State Park which was leased by the state tourism department. That federal land plus other state owned land comprised the 758 acres of Areas A & B sold to Pointe Vista in 2008.

State Tourism officials were advised that before any of Lake Texoma State Park could be converted that the loss of public recreation lands would have to be reconciled by the state. They were forewarned not to sell the park land. But they did it anyway, with the help of a lenient NPS ruling allowing them more time to comply AFTER the conversion / sale of the land in 2008.

The Oklahoma Tourism & Recreation Department (OTRD) submitted a conversion proposal to the NPS in June, 2012, more than three years ago. This proposal would adds nominal park acreage at Little Sahara and Beaver Bend State Parks. But, it was never approved by the National Park Service.

The proposed CLO /Tourism Dept. / Pointe Vista Settlement is a betrayal of the public trust. The CLO entered the Oklahoma County Court under false pretenses of suing Pointe Vista for breach of contract. In reality, all court filings were aimed at securing Pointe Vista’s private ownership of the park land.

Marshall County Commissioners have cause to intervene in the CLO v PVD case and stop this settlement from being implemented. If Tourism and Pointe Vista’s claims can withstand public scrutiny, let the case go forward in the court. Let’s get on with the trial, not this bogus settlement agreement.

 

Stephen Willis, Restore Lake Texoma State Park

 

References:

2/19/03: OK House Bill 1431 authorizes the sale of the State Park, and exempts OTRD Commission from normal public processes and oversight during the sale: The sale of Texoma Lodge and any associated real estate and personal property shall not be subject to the provisions of Sections 129.4 and 456.7 of Title 74 of the Oklahoma Statutes.

[3/25/2003: OK Title 74, Ch. 46, Section 1852.3 – Sale of Land – Texoma State Park. This weakens and undermines federal LWCF Act strict conversion guidelines for Lake Texoma State Park.]

5/27/04: Title 64 Public Lands, Ch. 1, Sec. 561.1 The School Land Commission could invest as much as 3 percent of its trust – more than $30 million – in real property currently held by the Tourism Department.

10/15/04: OTRD’s Susan Henry Warns about LWCF Conversion Requirements

11/01/04: Original Request For Proposals (RFP) by the Oklahoma CLO:     “Lake Texoma Resort – Redevelopment Opportunity.”

Land and Water Conservation Act of 1965, Section 6F provides that any use of land within this park for other than park and recreation purposes would be a conversion and would be prohibited, according to Susan Henry, Grants Administrator, Conservation and Planning, Oklahoma Tourism and Recreation Department [OTRD].

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