TULSA -- Young minds are stepping up to voice how they think development should proceed in north Tulsa.
A brave 12-year-old won over last week's city council meeting that brought fiery debate over urban renewal plans.
"When the councilmen came up to me and stuff, that was pretty incredible," said Dyre Stewart, the 12-year-old who spoke at the meeting.
The public comment for two urban renewal plans for the Greenwood and Crosbie Heights areas, went on for hours with dozens of residents expressing anger and frustration to the city council.
"I’ve done nothing like that before in my life and it was pretty nerve wracking," said Stewart.
While he says he was nervous, Stewart says he was confident in his ideas. He passes by vacant land on his way to school every day, and sees steps to old homes that now lead to nothing.
"It’s always just empty and since I’ve learned about the history of that piece of land it always made me sad," said Stewart.
He worked with his dad for weeks, designing a plan for a community center on the land near Emerson Montessori School.
"You’re sitting on the same thing for forever and then you just get that one moment of realization," said Stewart.
The young boy realized he could make a difference. Stewart learned about the Tulsa Race Massacre, and wants to honor the victims who lost their lives with the community center and park. He thinks the first floor of the center should be a museum about the Massacre, and the second floor could be made up of classrooms.
"I just wanted people to get interested in the idea itself so that they can support it later if it got somewhere," said Stewart.
In tense moments with hundreds of frustrated residents, Stewart presented an idea to preserve history while developing the area.
"Not only does it encapsulate vision, a way to look forward, but it was all community based and how we can all work together to again, make this area of town more vibrant," said O.C. Walker, Executive Director of Tulsa Development Authority (TDA).
TDA is starting from scratch, and meeting with citizen advisory teams of about 25 people for the Greenwood and Crosbie Heights plans. TDA then plans to meet with several community groups, before they hold town hall meetings which are open to the public.
"Once we get our feet up underneath us with the citizen advisory team, we’ll host town hall meetings," said Walker.
They also are working to create a social media page to broadcast their plans to a wider audience, and hire public relation firms in another effort to spread their information to the public.
Meanwhile, Stewart is proud that his ideas, and the voices from the community, helped make a difference.
"A lot of those people have every reason to be angry so I was kind of happy that I could bring something positive in at the end, too," said Stewart.
Stay in touch with us anytime, anywhere.
Sign up for newsletters emailed to your inbox. Select from these options: Breaking News, Severe Weather, School Closings, Daily Headlines and Daily Forecasts.