Release: May 27, 2004
President Jay Paul Gumm
Lawmakers Put “Option on the Table”
for Lake Texoma Lodge and Park
A measure that could lead to “historic
improvements” at Lake Texoma Resort Park has cleared
the Legislature and is on its way to the governor.
The measure would allow the Commissioners of the Land Office
– also known as the School Land Commission –
to invest in real property held by the Oklahoma Tourism
and Recreation Department.
In essence, the proposed law would allow the School Land
Commission to buy the lodge, park and Chickasaw Pointe Golf
Course from the Tourism Department. The state of Oklahoma
owns about 300 acres on the western shore of Lake Texoma
in Marshall County.
The School Land Commission could also seek title to more
than 1,000 acres at the park held by the U.S. Army Corps
of Engineers where some state facilities are located. Once
the School Land Commission has all the land, it could develop
the area to its “highest and best use” or contract
with private resort development companies to do so.
Paul Gumm, who represents the entire Lake Texoma area,
sponsored the bill in the Senate. He said the measure –
while not forcing the sale – “puts another option
on the table” to secure the future of the resort and
the jobs that depend on it.
The lawmaker noted that an existing state law – passed
in 2002 before he was elected – already provides for
the sale of the lodge and park to a private developer. According
to Tourism Department officials, giving the School Land
Commission the ability to participate could help encourage
“Lake Texoma is a jewel,” said Gumm, a Democrat
from Durant. “We have outstanding employees at the
lodge and park who have done extraordinary work to make
the visitor experience there among the best anywhere.
“They deserve to work at a lodge that is as good as
they are and our visitors deserve the best vacation experience
we can give them.”
Carey, the House author of the bill, said the problem
at Texoma is that the state simply does not have the resources
to make the improvements the lodge needs. That is where
the School Land Commission can help make a difference, he
“They have resources that could create options for
the resort,” said Carey, also a Democrat from Durant.
Gumm and Carey noted that because the School Land Commission
is a state agency created by the Oklahoma Constitution,
it is allowed by federal law to seek title to land currently
held by the Corps of Engineers.
The School Land Commission has charge of school lands and
a $1.2 billion trust fund. Returns on investments from those
lands and the trust go to schools and colleges in Oklahoma.
Last year, commission investments provided more than $47
million to public schools across the state.
If the governor signs the bill, 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. Any such deals would require
approval by both the School Land Commission and the Tourism
Commission before any sale or transfer happens.
“That is the kind of infusion of dollars that could
make a big difference at Texoma,” Gumm said. “In
addition to giving our visitors a first rate vacation destination,
the development of a premier resort facility would create
new jobs and new business opportunities for our communities
around Lake Texoma.”
In addition to stimulating the area economy, the lawmakers
developed the bill to ensure the fair treatment of the employees
at Lake Texoma State Resort Park and the private concessionaires
who have invested millions in their businesses around the
Gumm said language protecting the employees had to be in
the bill. If protecting the employees had not been part
of the bill, it would have been a “deal-breaker”
for the senator.
According to the legislation, resort employees with at least
two years service “shall have the opportunity to obtain
employment with any successor” resort or park. Gumm
also added a provision that required the Tourism Department
to develop a severance package for all employees affected
if the facility is shut down during construction of a new
Robb Gray, chief of staff for the Oklahoma Tourism and Recreation
Department, praised the lawmakers’ work on the bill.
“Representative Carey and Senator Gumm worked many
hours to put another option on the table for the Tourism
Department and Texoma,” Gray said. “Their efforts
will secure the future of the local economy by helping develop
new tourism and economic development opportunities at Lake
Gray also noted the lawmakers went to great lengths to protect
the resort’s employees.
“Senator Gumm was adamant that our employees at Lake
Texoma get the protection they deserved,” he said.
“He made certain that the bill safeguarded the future
and interests of these dedicated staff members.”
more information contact:
Senator Jay Paul Gumm's Office -