City councilors for Oklahoma City approve an agreement to get the American Indian Cultural Center and Museum finished.
On Tuesday was the deadline to get a plan in place with the state and the city council unanimously approved a deal to get the construction completed.
The American Indian Cultural Center and Museum is about two-thirds of the way finished and now OKC has committed to finishing it. City leaders said it does no one any good to leave a nearly complete facility on a very valuable piece of real estate in Oklahoma City.
“We've taken another step forward toward what we hope will be the ultimate completion of the American Indian Cultural Center,” said Oklahoma City Mayor Mick Cornett.
The vote formalized a state bill passed in 2015 that transferred the American Indian Cultural Center and Museum to Oklahoma City. The city will pay $9 million to finish the build. However, the real group making the center a reality is the Chickasaw Nation.
“We were not willing to go forward with the legislation that passed for the state last year, but the Chickasaw's interest in taking on the risk is what gives us the satisfaction and the confidence to go forward,” Cornett told News 9.
Once the center is built, the Chickasaw Nation has proposed to cover operating expenses for seven years up to $2 million a year. The Chickasaws went further and proposed helping with any construction costs over the $65 million price tag. So the city is now in the middle of a very complex deal.
“This is a city and it's a state and it's a sovereign nation all trying to work through the details of a contract,” Cornett explained.
While the city approved a plan with the state, the city still has to approve a formal plan with the Chickasaw Nation regarding the proposals.
Bill Lance, Secretary of Commerce for the Chickasaw Nation, released this statement:
"We have long supported the American Indian Cultural Center and Museum project, and today’s agreement between Oklahoma City and the State of Oklahoma is a significant step forward. With that agreement now in place, we look forward to continuing our due diligence work with the City as we both endeavor to bring this project to completion and make it a success for Oklahoma.”