In a mercifully brief meeting of the City Council on Tuesday, the body discussed a letter of intent to create a film studio sound stage in the Cox Convention Center. The Council also heard plans for the next phase in the development of Scissortail Park.
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The Council adopted a Letter of Intent for exclusive negotiation and project marketing with Prairie Surf Media, LLC. Prairie Surf intends to lease the Cox Convention Center when it is vacated. The company plans to construct two large sound stages in the space in order to bring film and television production to Oklahoma City.
Matt Payne of Prairie Surf explained that each film produced creates many jobs. Construction, electrical, costuming, props, all are examples of jobs that exist on a film set, according to Payne. Rachel Cannon, also representing the company, said that the average wages for these jobs nears the $100,000 marker. Payne spoke specifically of creating these opportunities for professionals who already live in Oklahoma.
Payne and Cannon are both Oklahoma natives who have been working in the entertainment industry for decades. They say that they see an opportunity to turn Oklahoma into a production hub on par with Georgia or New Mexico.
Now that the Letter of Intent has been agreed to, the company can begin marketing their opportunity to production companies across the country who are looking for production facilities. They will return to Council to finalize a lease after negotiating with Assistant City Manager Aubrey McDermid.
The Council heard a presentation on plans for the lower portion of Scissortail Park, stretching from the I-40 corridor south to the Oklahoma River. The park will extend to about the current riverfront park on the north shore of the Oklahoma River.
The planned amenities include two pavilions, multiple sports opportunities, and picturesque paths through wooded areas, culminating in a hilltop from which the river will be visible. The planned cost of the park construction will be around $28/square foot, a significant decrease in the cost of the upper park which came in at closer to $40 per square foot.
The Council agreed to put out a request for bids for construction of the park, including a number of alternative add-ons to include lighting on the sports fields and an extension of the Skydance bridge promenade to the riverfront park.
The lower portion of the park is expected to open in 2022.
Mental Health Grant
The Council approved the acceptance of a grant extension from the Oklahoma Department of Mental Health for the police department to continue staffing Assisted Outpatient Treatment (AOT) cases.
The program funded by the grant selects persons with serious mental illness who are involved with the legal system and orders treatment. Police Chief Wade Gourley explained that a Crisis Intervention Trained officer is stationed at the offices of OKDMH and goes into the field with mental health care professionals to meet with participants in the program.
Participants in the AOT program have shown a sharp decline in arrests during and after the program. Gourley said one participant was experiencing upwards of 15 arrests a year, but after this program has now gone two years with no involvement with law enforcement.
The City Council will meet again on Tuesday, September 29 at 8:30 a.m.
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