In a shorter than usual meeting on Tuesday, the City Council of Oklahoma City swore in two newly-elected Council members and swore in two incumbents.
The Council went on to approve declaring some property surplus so it can be sold to a non-profit organization.
Public Works Director Eric Wenger discussed demolition of the old police headquarters and municipal court complex, as well as other projects in the pipeline, including the heavy rebuilding of Belle Isle Library in the near northwest side of the City.
The Council concluded the proceedings by entering into Executive Session to discuss several items of litigation.
Bradley Carter of Ward 1 and Barbara Young of Ward 3 both took their oath of office, as did incumbents Todd Stone who won in the Ward 4 primary and Nikki Nice, who ran unopposed for the Ward 7 seat.
Wards 1 and 3 each held run-off elections on april 6th to determine who would fill the seats left empty by James Greiner and Larry McAtee, neither of whom sought re-election.
Ward 1 elected Bradley Carter. Carter was sworn in by Mayor David Holt at Tuesday’s meeting, while Carter’s wife held the Bible on which Carter swore. Their children surrounded them as he took his oath.
Barbara Young of Ward 3 was administered the oath by City Clerk Amy Simpson while the Mayor held the Bible.
Each then went to their offices to join the meeting virtually.
Ward 4 elected Todd Stone to his second four-year term in February. On Tuesday he was sworn in virtually by the City Clerk.
Nikki Nice, who won in a special election against six other candidates on November 6, 2018, won re-election for a full four-year term in February after being unopposed in Ward 7 this time around. Nice’s mother administered her oath of office Tuesday. (feature photo)
An item in the consent docket for Tuesday’s meeting was to declare a piece of city property as “surplus” to the city so that it can later be sold.
The property is the old Fire Station #16 located at 3416 S Robinson. The Oklahoma City Fire Department has not used the property in many years.
For several years a 501c3 faith-based nonprofit called No Boundaries International has leased the property. No Boundaries serves people who have been affected by human trafficking, as well as people experieincing homelessness and/or substance use disorders.
Over time, the nonprofit has put over $100,000 worth of improvements to the property, according to Assistant City Manager Kenny Tsoodle.
By declaring the property surplus, which the Council did today, the process of selling the property to No Boundaries can get underway. When No Boundaries purchases the building, $90,000 of the revenue from the sale will go to the OKCFD budget.
Ward 4 Councilman Todd Stone told the Council that No Boundaries has become a distinct part of the fabric of the community there. He expressed enthusiasm for the sale.
With the passage of the item on Tuesday, there will now be a public hearing on the sale of the property April 27 during the City Council meeting.
One item from the consent docket that caught the attention of Ward 6 Councilwoman JoBeth Hamon, was the proposed demolition of the old police headquarters and municipal court complex. Hamon mentioned that there had been discussions about the Diversion Hub potentially taking over these spaces as part of MAPS 4. [Hamon and this reporter are married.]
Eric Wenger, director of Public Works, explained that the decision was made years ago to build replacements for both of those buildings, and now that the new facilities are open, it’s time to raze the old buildings. The old facilities had a great number of deficiencies which would be cost prohibitive to repair, which is why the new facilities were built.
The demolition plan, it is important to note, does not include the demolition of the old jail building, which preservationists have been fighting to keep from the wrecking ball.
Once again the case was made that old buildings need to be torn down so that more surface parking can be completed.
Police Chief Wade Gourley claims that there isn’t enough parking for people who come to police headquarters for victims’ services. Hamon asked if it was possible for staff and officers who spend a majority of their time in the headquarters to simply park two blocks away at the city-owned parking garage and free up those spaces abutting the headquarters for guests. She received no answer.
Ward 8 Councilman Mark Stonecipher contributed comments that he had met with Wenger, City Manager Craig Freeman, and Gourley about the need for parking and said that his studied opinion from those meetings is to support demolition.
Stonecipher did not mention or offer an explanation as to why he was meeting with city staff about Ward 6 business without including or reaching out to Hamon, Ward 6’s elected representative on the Council.
The item passed with the rest of the consent docket.
Wenger was present for much of Tuesday’s meeting, as many agenda items were for projects of the Public Works department.
The largest of those projects is drainage improvements for what is called the “Super Span.”
The Super Span is the mostly underground storm water displacement channel that takes runoff from the Penn Square Mall area all the way to the Deep Fork. The tunnel portion of the span is 13 feet high by 27 feet wide. It was last updated in 1995, and since then has fallen into some slight disrepair.
The repairs are funded by the 2017 bond, and should take about one year to complete, beginning this summer. Since the work is underground, motorists and pedestrians should expect no inconveniences or detours.
Belle Isle Library
Wenger also updated the Council on the renovations and additions being made at the Belle Isle Library. Tuesday’s agenda included a price increase change order.
Wenger explained that the building is round instead of square. This has caused some challenges in the field for the contractor.
The change order was in the amount of $141,590.55.
The project is planned to be complete by the end of this calendar year.
The Council finished up the meeting by recessing to Executive Session to receive information about litigation against the City.
The first case, styled Fugett et al v. The City of Oklahoma City makes a tort claim against the city for a sewer incident which caused the Fugett family’s home and property to be flooded with raw sewage.
The Fugett family claims damages of $75,000 against the City and their attorney has demanded a Jury Trial.
The second case in the Executive Session is styled Pigeon vs The City of Oklahoma City et al.
The case was filed in 2018 by Aronda Pigeon on behalf of the estate of Dustin Pigeon, deceased. The suit also names former Chief of Police William Citty.
Both parties have demanded a jury trial. The case has been removed from District Court to the U.S. District Court.
The third piece of litigation regards something readers might find more familiar.
- Response to Stavian Rodriguez death strains police-community relations
- Protesters focus on police union over Stavian Rodriguez shooting death
- Mother of Stavian Rodriguez launching lawsuit against Oklahoma City
- Five OKCPD officers get felony charges in Stavian Rodriguez shooting
The case is styled Cameo Holland v. The City of Oklahoma City et al.
Holland is the mother of Stavian Rodriguez, the fifteen-year-old who was shot and killed by several police officers in November. The boy was struck by thirteen bullets after laying his gun on the ground. The suit names several of the officers, Chief Wade Gourley, and the City.
DA David Prater is bringing criminal charges against several of the officers who shot Rodrguez. Holland’s suit is a civil rights suit, and is in the jurisdiction of the United States District Court for the Western District of Oklahoma.
The City Council members are unable to comment on matters discussed in Executive Session, but Free Press will follow these cases for developments.
The City Council meets again on April 27 at 8:30 a.m.
Last Updated April 19, 2021, 11:05 AM by Brett Dickerson – Editor