Bond Oversight Committee recommends moving forward with Downtown Master Plan, economic development incentives, public safety enhancements

The GO Bond Oversight Committee met on Wednesday, March 17th to discuss ongoing bond projects, updates, and future drawdowns. 

The first drawdown, equaling $15M of the $40.235M GO Bond, was approved in April of 2020. 

A second drawdown of $5.75M is being proposed by the City, to be sold before June or July, so it will be on this fiscal year’s business, and to keep next year’s mill level at 18. Additionally, said City Attorney David Widdoes, “It’s time to start seeding the Downtown Master Plan projects on the public side. There is a ton of private money being invested in our Downtown right now.”

The projects the City would like to fund fall primarily under Proposition 1—Street and Bridges. $2,558,198 will go to improvements to Downtown streetscapes, alleys, utilities, pavements, sidewalks, and lighting. The widening and resurfacing of sections of Dewey Avenue and the widening of the Mayfield Street intersection would account for another $2,060,000. 

There will be an additional $722K for refurbishing two fire trucks, which would complete the drawdown money for Proposition 2—Public Safety, most of which was done with the first drawdown last year.

The last $409,802 of the second drawdown will be for Proposition 3—Community Park Enhancements. $209,802 will go toward pumps and other flood mitigation strategies for the golf course, and $200K toward City-owned lake property improvements for the restrooms and playgrounds.  

Updates on Proposition 1—Streets and Bridges, from Public Works Director Steve Hardt, included three projects. 

Hardt said that final plans were received on March 12th for the extension and update to Ozark Trail at the intersection of Highway 117 and Route 66 and that the project should be going to construction by the beginning of May. Widdoes noted that this, “dovetails nicely with the recent purchase of the old TeePee Drive-In,” which is expected to open in the Spring of 2022, as of the latest report from the new owner.  

Next, Hardt said that the final plans for the installation of street lights and the widening of South 49th West Avenue at its intersection with Highway 117 will be ready in April, and that work should begin sometime mid-summer. 

The final street project Hardt introduced was the widening and resurfacing of sections of East Dewey Avenue and Mayfield Street. He said that cost estimates were received on March 8th and that plans for those projects are ongoing. 

Urban Development Director Nikki Howard gave a brief overview of the Downtown Master Plan’s progress, and the most recent public open house conducted by consultants Ochsner Hare & Hare. She said that on April 23 OHH will send the implementation piece of the plan to the City for its review, and that it should go to the Planning Commission in June and to City Council in July. 

Widdoes asked Howard how her “experience has been in having these experts come in before spending the $5M [allotted for the Downtown Master Plan project]?” Howard said, “It’s been absolutely, great; I feel so confident about it. And everyone is so excited about it.”

Widdoes agreed, saying, “It’s been my first experience having this type of study done, and it’s opened my eyes to think of things I had never considered.” He told the committee that the City thinks the money from the second drawdown for Proposition 1 should be spent on rerouting Route 66, “at least from Main to Oak, and a couple of priority projects, like alleys, and something to stimulate development on Hobson.”

He reported that he and City Manager Joan Riley have a meeting scheduled with ODOT and the Secretary of Transportation to gauge how much of the Route 66 designation on Dewey the State is willing to divest. Although the City would then have to maintain that portion, it would also give it a lot of flexibility, including making it a two-lane road with a center turn lane, angled parking, big sidewalks, and possibly even pedestrian lanes. 

Proposition 2—Public Safety: Fire Chief David Taylor reported that two of their fire trucks will be refurbished in Appleton, WI, including having automatic chain systems installed for future winter storms, and that they will be under the budgeted amount. 

Taylor said he is in talks with Locution, the company providing the new station alert system, and that he should have the final contract soon. This is also expected to come in under budget. 

“It’s not looking as good budget-wise on the new Fire Training Facility and Fire Station 3,” Taylor said, regretfully. He said that the budgeted costs on both projects have risen “about 40% from where they were last year at this time.” 

Taylor said he met with the architects that day over the projects’ budgets. “We’ll make it work, one way or another,” he said. “We’re trying to cut costs, do some re-designing…and looking at different contractors on Station 3 to get some quotes.” Regarding the training facility, Taylor said “all 14 contractors” they looked at were “$1M over our budget.” He said that they will still be able to build the tower, but that they may have to cut down on the planned administrative offices for the time being. 

“I should know about Station 3 in two weeks, and…then we’ll figure out the training facility,” Taylor concluded. 

Proposition 3—Community Park Enhancements: Widdoes reported that the Golf Course irrigation project bid has been awarded and that it came in $200K under budget. He said he is “confident the savings will provide enough funds to do repair work on the erosion of the two holes on the banks of Rock Creek.” He further stated that the “Golf Course is the bright, shining star of the COVID era. Play is up, rounds are up, and everything is going well. David [McBride] is doing a great job.” 

David Beyer reported on Liberty and McGoy Park upgrades. He said that the original opening date for Liberty Park was June 1st, but that Parks and Recreation Director Jody Baker is running into issues getting equipment delivered, so that may push the date back a bit.

Beyer said that the engineering has been done on McGoy Park and its restrooms, and that it is on track to be finished sometime this summer. “So both [parks] are in good shape,” he concluded.

Proposition 4—Economic Development: $2M of last year’s drawdown was to provide economic incentives to bring certain businesses to town. Widdoes confirmed that none of these funds have been spent yet, but that “things are in the works.” He did say, “We’re earmarking some for a restaurant. That’s one of Ms. Riley’s priorities…It’s not committed to that but that’s a thought. We are also looking to incentivize a hotel and grocery store.”

Proposition 5—Booker T. Washington Recreation Center: Vice-Mayor Carla Gunn reported that the architects for the project were here on March 3rd for the first presentation of their feasibility study. They will be back for more community feedback on April 22nd. Gunn said, “We’re running into the same situation as Chief Taylor—what we thought was a lot of money last year, isn’t so much anymore. So we’re trying to put our big dreams into perspective.” 

There was a lot of discussion amongst staff and the committee about this project’s risk due to cost escalation problems, and whether or not the improvements to Gray Street could be funded another way, so the total $8.5M could go toward the facility itself. This is an ongoing matter and will be followed closely by Sapulpa Times. 

Proposition 6—Youth Sports Complex: City staff reported that the bid process for the soccer complex is halfway complete, and that, so far, all the plans have come in under budget. Although, they were quick to point out, that does not mean that all of the final projects will come in under budget. 

At the conclusion of the meeting, Widdoes said, “I’ve never been more excited about what’s going on in Sapulpa.” The Sapulpa Public Schools representative, Assistant Superintendent Johnny Bilby, concurred, saying, “I’ve never seen anything like it before. We’re all going in one direction now. There’s so much energy—we’ve just got to keep pushing forward.”