Discussions on designs for a bypass for Lawton’s west industrial park and an ordinance governing placement of small cell phone towers will top the agenda when the City Council meets today.
The session will begin at 2 p.m. in the auditorium of Lawton City Hall, Southwest 9th and C.
The agenda industrial bypass agenda item comes on the heels of news last week that the Oklahoma Department of Transportation had included $16 million for the project in its eight-year Construction Work Plan. ODOT was able to expand the list of projects on that master plan significantly because additional state and federal funding have become available.
For Lawton, that means $16 million has been designated in Federal Fiscal Year 2025 for a bypass that will extend Goodyear Boulevard beyond its termination point at Cache Road. Conceptual designs show the road will extend north to link to U.S. 62 and the U.S. 62/Rogers Lane bypass on Lawton’s western edge. Deputy City Manager Richard Rogalski said city leaders support the project because of its two-fold benefit: not only will it provide easier access to trucks serving west industrial park tenants, it will remove heavy trucks from Lawton arterials.
The Lawton Metropolitan Planning Organization (which directs spending of federal transportation dollars) and the City Council approved a contract earlier this year with the design firm EST to create conceptual designs. Those plans to be brought to the council today for approval (the LMPO approved those designs Oct. 5).
EST will make a presentation on designs before the council directs city staff to craft a new contract with EST to create construction designs. Rogalski said last week city administrators expected to make that recommendation to the council to move the project forward, so design plans are ready when ODOT funding is ready. The latest estimate sets the project at $18.4 million.
That contract — covering one-half mile of roadway, a bridge over U.S. 62 and associated access ramps — will come back to the council for approval when it is created.
Council members also will consider a new ordinance governing those who seek to place small cell wireless towers in city rights of way, to include city parks.
City staff said they are receiving requests about installing small above-ground small cell communication facilities to deliver 5G coverage in difficult to serve areas. This summer, the council approved placement of a cell phone tower in Fred Bentley Park at Northwest 40th and Columbia Avenue. Rogalski said while city code allows for the issuance of a revocable permit for underground communications equipment in city rights of way, it does not address small cell tower and facilities.
This code would remedy that, allowing small facilities to be built in city rights of way via revocable permits approved by the council. Specific requirements must be met, to include a limit of 50 feet in height (an exception may be sought for up to 75 feet) and placement within enclosed areas. The facilities may not impede an existing or proposed sidewalk, must be at least 10 feet from a sanitary sewer main, and located on the opposite side of the road or public way from a public water main. Public right of way is defined as any public lands, rights of way and easements owned or controlled by the City of Lawton.
Council members also will receive a presentation from Crawford and Associates, a private auditing firm hired by the council to conduct internal audits of the Parks and Recreation Department and the streets/traffic division of the Public Works Department. Crawford and Associates was engaged specifically to do internal audits for the city, rather than designate a city staff person to do it.
The audits focused on cash collections and capital assets, with recommendations made to implement cash collection procedures (a new system Parks and Recreation already has implemented), along with staffing changes to handle cash-related transitions (Parks and Recreation) and a monthly perpetual inventory system (for streets/traffic). Both audits also recommended the city consider a new capital asset policy that uses some combination of three existing asset identification methods into a “more manageable tracking identification number....”