City officials share results of BTW feasibility study, update on Downtown Master Plan

City Manager Joan Riley presented the Booker T. Washington Recreation Center feasibility study recently performed by Barker Rinker Seacat (BRS) Architecture at Monday’s Community and Economic Development committee meeting at City Hall. 

The study took into account statistics like population (21,800 according to the recent unofficial census prediction), the wide range of participation of citizens in certain sectors of the City, amenities and services already here, and what things citizens would like to incorporate in the new and improved rec center, in addition to standard demographics.  

Riley reported that the process “kicks off” this week and that it will be similar to that of the Downtown Master Plan. BRS will meet with City Councilors, staff, and a steering committee of interested citizens to develop and implement a plan and to ultimately help choose the best architect for the project. “We get one shot at this,” said Riley. “We want to do a good job.” 

BRS’s website states that their objective is “to make a positive and lasting impact” on partner cities and their citizens and explains that they “actively engage the…community through a highly interactive process to ensure all needs are met, budgets adhered to, and expectations exceeded.” They use a “wide range of input gathered from owners, staff, community leaders, and end-users” to create their final design, which is “one that carefully addresses the requirements and desires of the greatest number of constituents possible.”

Next, Urban Development Director Nikki Howard gave an update on the Downtown Master Plan (DMP). DMP consultants, Ochsner Hare and Hare, sent Howard their third deliverable, a detailed packet containing a multitude of information culled from the Design Charette and public open house held at the end of October of last year. Howard and the stakeholder committee will peruse the options presented in the packet and give OHH their comments and input by Friday, January 22. 

Ideas broached cover development and redevelopment projects, transportation and connectivity improvements, streetscape enhancements, future parking considerations, and beautification initiatives, among others, while enhancing the City’s existing historic buildings and Route 66 designation and deemphasizing less aesthetically-pleasing features. 

Suggestions include creating “alleyscapes” in unused alleys, public art installations, infills in blank spaces between buildings, widening the sidewalks and narrowing Dewey to two lanes of traffic and one turn lane, putting in a boutique hotel, a communal green space, and better utilizing existing parking options. 

Riley said that the next step is discussing options for the narrowing of Dewey with the Oklahoma Department of Transportation “to see what that entails. That’s a very big part of knowing what we can do.” 

Committee Chair Vickie Beyer reintroduced the consultants’ idea of creating an entity to manage and oversee the DMP, as City employees do not have the time and it is a 10-15 year plan with several moving pieces. The committee and City staff agreed that hiring a contract or full-time employee as project manager may be the answer. This person should be “focused and dedicated” and easily accessible for answering questions.

Though a qualified candidate was offered the Economic Development Director job late last year and was expected to start at the beginning of the month, this is no longer an option and the City is again searching for the best fit. Riley said the position has been listed as open and that she will be reviewing applications again. 

Councilor Hugo Naifeh asked if Riley had spoken with the Lieutenant Governor for ideas or suggestions, and she said yes, “I’ve reached out to a few people. It’s going to be alright.” The deadline for applicants is February 22. 

There’s a new development plan for the 65 acres near West 81st Street South and Frankoma Road. The Reserve at Rock Creek subdivision is expected to include 260 single family, two-car garage homes, each on a 55 foot lot and a minimum of 1,400 square feet in size. They will range from $175K to $250K apiece and each lot will be required to have landscaping and at least one tree. The builders have also agreed to improve South 97th West Avenue to City standards up to the access point of the neighborhood. 

This application will be heard at the Sapulpa Planning Commission meeting on Tuesday, January 26 at 5:30 p.m.