Lawton Public Safety Building

Snow highlights the front entrance of the Lawton Public Safety Center, which is nearing completion along Larrance and Railroad Streets.

The City of Lawton is setting up limited numbers of in-person tours on March 16 for its new public safety facility.

City administrators say they expect to get the keys to the new 106,778-square-foot Lawton Public Safety Center by the end of February, providing a new home for Lawton Police Department and the city jail, as well as Municipal Court and the firefighting crews of Central Fire Station. Flintco broke ground on the $34 million facility in October 2017 and is completing punch list items.

Limited personal tours, coupled with plans for virtual tours, are a nod to the COVID-19 pandemic and the City of Lawton’s efforts to keep social distancing and other safety protocols in place to protect residents and staff, City Manager Michael Cleghorn has said. While the city traditionally has large ribbon-cutting ceremonies and tours when it opens a new facility, ceremonies for the Lawton Public Safety Center will be low-key.

Ribbon-cutting ceremony set

A closed ribbon-cutting ceremony (meaning, attendance by invitation) on March 16 will be followed by a limited number of tours. Residents may register for those tours through an online signup process at tinyurl.com/lawtonpsctour.

Despite the accommodations that must be made because of COVID-19, Cleghorn said he still wants to give the public an opportunity to see city government’s newest structure.

“Though this event may look a little different than previous ribbon-cutting ceremonies, we are still very excited to debut this building to the community and give so many of our hardworking public safety officials a new, beautiful home,” Cleghorn said in a statement.

City administrators said the departments are expected to begin moving into the building following the ribbon-cutting ceremony, a process that will take weeks. A virtual tour of the building also is expected to be produced during that time, then posted for residents to see. Additional personal tours are expected to be provided after all departments are in the building and fully functional.

City administrators said in December they anticipated a phased moving-in process for the four entities that will occupy the building.

“Departments are responsible for their own move-in plans,” Cleghorn said at the time.

The city jail, located on the south end of the complex, is expected to be the last department to fully move into its space, Cleghorn said. Administrators said they aren’t sure of the sequence in which other departments will occupy their new space.

Tiffany Vrska, director of community relations for the City of Lawton, said departments still are finalizing plans, determining what times may work best for them and what the actual move may look like. At this time, officials aren’t certain if the move of the other three departments will be done all at once or in stages, she said, adding the project has been complicated by change orders, challenges presented by COVID-19 and, now, this week’s winter storm.

Firefighters will be located on the north end of the complex, closest to East Gore Boulevard, with their quarters marked by the large four-bay area for fire apparatus. City police will be located in the center of the building, with municipal court located on the south side of the police department. The municipal jail is located on the south end of the building. A 6,000-square-foot annex built on the south side of Southwest B Avenue will provide storage space for city police.

In addition, the project rebuilt Larrance Street to handle increased traffic and installed a new traffic signal light at the Railroad Street/East Gore Boulevard intersection to help fire apparatus depart the building. Landscaping at the front entrance on the west side of the building will feature the bell now located at the front of Lawton Police Department.

The $34.47 million complex under construction east of downtown, between Larrance and Railroad streets, initially was projected for completion in 2019. But, the project has been delayed by multiple issues, including a high number of change orders that have angered the City Council, weather delays because of heavy rains during the first year of construction, unexpected problems such as buried tanker cars filled with diesel, and, in 2020, problems with sick workers and delays in material/supply deliveries because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

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