A firm that has designed projects for the City of Lawton for years will help prioritize projects in the 2019 Capital Improvements Program, under action today by the City Council.

Council members, meeting in regular session at 2 p.m. in the auditorium of Lawton City Hall, Southwest 9th and C, will be considering a staff recommendation to approve an agreement with Garver LLC to provide professional management services for projects in the 2019 Capital Improvements Program (CIP), to include creating a portal that would allow residents to easily track projects. The design firm already is working on other projects for the City of Lawton, to include one funded by another CIP: design and drill water wells to expand the city’s raw water capacity.

Under this contract, Garver would be asked to analyze, then develop a process to prioritize and track individual projects for eight city departments, create and adopt strategic goals for each level of service and community infrastructure, develop a risk-based program to assist in decision making and prioritization of projects, and develop online dashboards for both entities within the city and residents outside. The $543,540 estimated cost of the work would be funded from the CIP.

Council members also will take steps to begin addressing critical issues at the city’s 50-year-old wastewater treatment plant, via a $47 million loan from the Oklahoma Water Resources Board’s Revolving Loan Fund. The city has used that funding mechanism numerous times over the years to fund major water and sewer projects, obtaining a loan then designating a CIP (in this case, the 2019 CIP) to repay the debt.

The proposal, to be addressed first as the Lawton Water Authority then ratified as the City Council, would allow the city to move forward with plans to address problems preventing the wastewater plant from meeting federal treatment mandates. Today’s executive session agenda includes discussion of a notice of violation issued against the city in relation to that water discharge. In early December, the city received a Consent Order from the Oklahoma Department of Environmental Quality directing it to bring the plant back into compliance.

Public Utilities Director Rusty Whisenhunt has said floods in 2015 and 2017 damaged equipment within the plant, to include new pumps, and an analysis has been taking place to determine the best way to upgrade the plant to bring it back into compliance with federal regulations.

The council also will consider approving the appointment of 14 citizens who will serve as founding members of Lawton’s new Race Relations Commission.

That board, to be headed by long-time Lawton pastor Bishop John Dunaway, was created by the council to collaborate with community partners to identify racial barriers, promote racial unity, develop opportunities for racial equality and implement solutions. The ordinance creating the commission sets 10 broad categories that will be focus areas or powers, some tied to four standing subcommittees also created: community empowerment, community outreach, diversity and building racial equity.

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