December 18, 2013
The Oklahoma Land Board on Thursday will, at last, learn its legal options for dealing with the dormant Pointe Vista Development.
Unfortunately, what the options are and board-member discussion of them will remain shrouded in the secrecy that has accompanied every Land Board official discussion of the proposed $500 million luxury resort at Lake Texoma State Park.
The board has told the law firm it hired in the summer it must present its report at this Thursday’s special meeting. The firm was hired to research the contract between the state agency and Pointe Vista developers, and to determine the company’s options given the increasing likelihood of the project’s collapse. On Thursday the firm is expected to lay out those legal options.
Several questions have been raised about various facets of the project, but two key elements remain front and center: Construction of a high-rise hotel, and annual payments for the company’s purchase of the land. The company has vowed it will make the final $2 million payment on the land next month. It has not yet even started on the hotel, although the contract calls for its completion by this coming May.
It’s been suggested that the Board default the company, cancel the contract and take back the land. Among other possibilities: Extend the contract deadline or seek a company to take it over. There are pros and cons for all, but the public has a right to know the options and to hear or read about board member responses to them. Board members might benefit from public reaction to the options, and at least should have a chance to hear public views before they vote.
Board Secretary Harry Birdwell was asked for an explanation for closing these particular sessions. He didn’t respond but Board spokeswoman Terri Watkins said the explanation lies in the law on exemptions to the state’s open meetings law. It says executive sessions may be called to allow “confidential communications” between the Commission and its attorney on pending investigations and other matters if disclosure will “seriously impair” the Commission’s ability to “process them in the public interest.” The board by law must make only its vote in public, but the public is entitled to know the information and discussion that goes into the vote. It seems unlikely that opening the session to the public at this point can do any more harm than has already been self-inflicted by the company.