Proposals to evaluate the condition of pavement on Lee Boulevard and to meet in executive session to purchase property for a military defense contractor technology park will top the agenda when the City Council meets today.
The session, which also will include the mayor’s annual State of the City Address, will begin at 2 p.m. in the auditorium of Lawton City Hall, Southwest 9th and C.
Agenda items will include a recommendation from city engineers to approve a specific contract with EST Inc., the city’s “on call retainer” engineering firm which has an agreement with the City of Lawton to provide specific services under action taken by the council in August. In this instance, the firm will be tasked with an evaluation that city leaders highlighted when they were drafting the 2019 Capital Improvements Program: upgrading West/East Lee Boulevard from Goodyear Boulevard on the west to Interstate 44 on the east.
EST will be asked to conduct a pavement evaluation study of 8.6 miles of the arterial, as well as 2.1 miles of Goodyear Boulevard from West Lee Boulevard to Cache Road. The firm’s work is to include evaluation of existing pavement, determining the extent of pavement restoration required, visual and geotechnical evaluations, and recommendations for improvements (to include cost estimates). The contract with EST is set at $188,500, for work expected to take up to 285 days.
Council members also will meet in executive session at the request of the FIRES Innovation Science and Technology Accelerator (FISTA) Development Trust Authority to discuss economic development issues and the possible purchase or appraisal of real property. Both actions are allowed under the state’s Open Meetings Act.
The action stems from a council decision in August to create a new trust authority focusing on development of the FISTA, a technology park that will house military defense contractors working with Fort Sill. That action had been under the auspices of the Lawton Economic Development Corporation, and before that board ceded control to the new trust authority, it cancelled a sales contract for the former Fairmont Creamery because the work needed on that structure couldn’t be done in the identified time frame. Instead, the trust authority will find a new site for the FISTA, and today’s agenda item notes the council will “discuss the details of a possible purchase of real property.” Disclosures about the purchase would “seriously impair the development of the proposal,” the reason for executive session, according to the agenda commentary.
The argument about disclosure of “confidential communications” is the reason cited for discussion the trust authority wants about an ongoing industrial development proposal, with the agenda item stating that “disclosure of which would violate the confidentiality of prospective business entities.”
Council members may discuss the issues in executive session, but any action must be voted on in open session.
In other business, the council will consider approving staff recommendations about $7.17 million in reimbursement designated to Lawton from the federal CARES Act. Oklahoma was allocated $250 million from the CARES Act, and Lawton was deemed eligible for reimbursement of up to $7,170,388, based on the funding formula of $77 per capita. City administrators have proposed specific allocations of those funds, to include $2.625 million in three areas: $1,770,385 to increase the city’s capital outlay fund; $768,806 to increase expenditures in the sewer rehabilitation fund (allowing it to buy equipment not funded in the general budget); and $85,632 to the drainage maintenance fund for purchase of a vehicle and mower tractor attachment.
Other expenditures designated in the CARES Act Relief Fund range from $1.6 million for bulk trash trucks needed as the city begins to transition to once-a-week residential trash collection and $1 million to the city’s emergency fund, to funding for IT needs, a contribution to the city’s pension fund and $250,000 for a strategic plan development.
In other business, the council will consider:
• Meeting in executive session on three other items, including discussion of a potential settlement of the OpTerra ES energy performance contract; a $350,000 pending damage claim filed against the city by Jody Maples for an unspecified incident that occurred June 25, 2019; and a request by City Clerk Traci Hushbeck to discuss matters involving her employment. Hushbeck is one of four city administrators who work directly for the council.
• Acting on a recommendation from the City Planning Commission to deny a Use Permitted on Review request from Jason Miller to operate a medical marijuana processing facility in conjunction with a medical marijuana dispensary at 1011 SW C. Commissioners were concerned about the fact only part of this commercial strip center would be used for the marijuana facility, and the potential of industrial use in this commercial area. Council members have the option to accept the CPC recommendation or make their own decision.
• Amending its longstanding contract with Garver LLC, adding evaluate the city’s Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition (SCADA) system that links to the city’s wastewater plant, its two water treatment plants and the water distribution system. The work will include proposed improvements, conceptual designs and environmental services to help secure funding for the improvements.