A story in the Jan. 19 edition of The Sunday Constitution incorrectly stated that the Comanche County Industrial Development Authority is negotiating to purchase property on Goodyear Boulevard for additional industrial park space. That property acquisition project actually is the work of the Lawton Economic Development Authority. The Constitution regrets the error.
An engineering firm hired to analyze infrastructure needed for west Lawton industrial park sites has outlined more than $100 million in upgrades.
Garver, hired and funded by the Comanche County Industrial Development Authority (CCIDA) to create a master plan that the Lawton Economic Development Corporation (LEDC) could follow, presented its findings to members of both bodies recently. The goal was to solicit comments that will be woven into the final master plan, said Mary Elizabeth Mach, engineering team leader.
What Mach’s team detailed was the final utility plan and traffic master plan, improvements needed to support potential tenants in the park and the increased traffic expected to result from development of the 320 acres that CCIDA already purchased to expand the existing west Lawton industrial park and 215 acres east of that site, which CCIDA is negotiating to purchase.
Mach said engineers are working to ensure the property is eligible for designation as a certified site by the Oklahoma Department of Commerce, meaning it is ready for immediate development.
Mach called the master plan that Garver is crafting a “road map” that will provide Lawton with a functioning industrial park for the near term and into the future. That plan estimates that infrastructure could total $117 million, depending on the options city leaders pursue.
The projected infrastructure centers on three west Lawton sites: the 320 acres immediately north of Goodyear, 480 acres that CCIDA owns south of Goodyear and West Lee Boulevard, and 215 acres that CCIDA wants to own.
Mach said the designation of those sites are the result of an analysis that began in 2017, when CCIDA agreed to fund the cost of hiring Garver. The first goal: determine the best site for a new industrial park (the existing west Lawton park has only a limited amount of property left undeveloped).
Officials selected seven sites for analysis: three in east Lawton, three in west Lawton and the 480 acres south of West Lee Boulevard. LEDC Chairman Ron Nance said the study “zeroed in” on the land LEDC thought had the best chance of development: the west sites.
Mach said the east Lawton sites were eliminated because of development problems: most notably, much of what was designated ES1 is in the flood plain. The sites also were missing infrastructure — most notably, rail service — that would make them more costly to develop.
LEDC President Brad Cooksey said while the study is the property of CCIDA — because that entity funded it — the plan will provide the basis for LEDC and others in the community to move forward with infrastructure needs that will help lure development to Lawton.
Now that the report is nearing completion, the new focus becomes the Capital Improvements Program extension that the City of Lawton is discussing. The Feb. 11 ballot will ask voters to end the 2015 Sales Tax Extension and 2016 Capital Improvements Program early, replacing both with a new CIP that, among other things, would designate $29 million for industrial economic development.
Cooksey said that’s where the Garver report comes into the equation.
“This gives us good numbers to go off, in bringing our industrial park up to date,” he said, adding that also is why the proposed CIP is important, from an industrial development standpoint.
Some information presented in the report was a surprise; other details address issues that LEDC and others identified years ago.
“What this report did was confirm that information we already knew, and put a ballpark figure on the cost of it,” Cooksey said.
Cooksey said he was surprised by a proposal to extend West Gore Boulevard farther west, into the new industrial park site. That proposal drew more support from Garver engineers than did a years-old idea to create a traffic loop to tie the industrial park into Rogers Lane and Interstate 44.
“I can see the benefit of having it,” Cooksey said, of the West Gore Boulevard extension. “At the same time, the loop — although it is the most expensive part of the transportation part of the plan — we still recognize the importance of that. That is something entities already are working on, that and Goodyear Boulevard.”
Cooksey said LEDC hasn’t yet set its infrastructure priorities, but predicted that work should begin soon. While he expects transportation to be a top priority, because officials already are working on it, LEDC still must decide what comes afterward.
“A lot depends on the extension of the CIP,” he said.