The Edmond Sun

January 1, 2013

I-35 deal tops 2012 list of stories

James Coburn
The Edmond Sun

EDMOND — Here’s our list of the top City of Edmond stories for 2012:

No. 1: Major economic investment made on Covell at Interstate 35

The Edmond City Council approved the negotiated agreements 5-0 in October for developing the $25.5 million Hilton Garden Inn and conference center to be located at the northwest corner of Interstate 35 and Covell Road. The City Council identified a need for a hotel and conference center to generate tourism and sales tax and improve quality of life in Edmond.

The City Council previously approved the $2.2 million purchase of 7.13 acres of undeveloped land at the hotel site. The $2.2 million was taken from the city’s Real Property Tax Fund. Safeguards are in place to protect the city’s land investment, said attorney Leslie Batchelor, representing the city in the projects. It is a legal requirement that the public not give anything away to private investment, she said.

The council also reached unanimous agreement concerning the development of Summit Sports Complex to be located on the northeast corner of the interchange.

A 40,000-square-foot Francis Tuttle Center for Municipal Excellence is being developed on the northeast corner of Interstate 35 and Covell Road. The center also will accommodate Adult and Career Development courses and workshops, complete as a business innovation center with classrooms and offices for a business incubator, said Peggy Geib, head of business and industry services at Francis Tuttle.

No. 2: City reveals Public Safety Center design and location

A design for the Public Safety Center was presented to the public in October. The  70,000-square-foot Edmond PSC will be built on a 1-acre site where the City of Edmond Administration Building currently stands at 100 E. First St. Laboratory, vehicles, evidence-based storage and other related functions will be at a $3.5 million auxiliary building to be constructed northwest of 33rd Street and Broadway.

Building exteriors such as the Forensic Science Institute, the OSBI laboratory and historic buildings downtown influenced the Public Safety Center design, said John Osborne, an architect with Frankfurt-Short-Bruza.

All of the city’s downtown design guidelines are respected in the plan. Pedestrians will experience generously landscaped sidewalks to encourage an east-to-west pedestrian flow from downtown to the University of Central Oklahoma campus.

A corner entry off First Street and Littler will allow public access amid a vertical glass entryway rising three stories, Osborne said. The main facility will initially accommodate more than 170 police staff mixed with public safety staff.

An alley driveway will slope down on the south side of the building for police parking and detention functions secured by a fence. Detention cells will be secluded in a lower basement, with light from solar tubes.

The administration building is set to be demolished in January. Late spring is the target date before the bids will be approved. Construction should take 18 months to two years and the building should open in early 2015.

No. 3: Mercy Health Services construction progresses

Business and community leaders watched in February as construction workers hoisted the final steel beam to the sprawling $88 million Mercy Health Services. Mercy Health Services is being constructed on 25 acres of land south of 15th Street and west of Interstate 35.

“I think it’s an acceleration of our being open for business and the quality of business that we see coming to Edmond,” Mayor Charles Lamb said at the time.

The 200,000-square-foot facility is scheduled to open in 2013 with a focus on health and wellness, said David Tew, COO of Mercy Health. Mercy Health Services will initially employ more than 300 workers.

The project could generate 658 total jobs in Edmond, according to the Edmond Economic Development Authority. An annual financial impact of $29.8 million would result from the project to support a population of 1,383 people living in 574 households, the EEDA reports.

No. 4: 5th District voters re-elect Congressman James Lankford

Oklahoma’s 5th Congressional District voters re-elected Congressman James Lankford with 58.9 percent of the vote in November. Lankford defeated Democrat Tom Guild of Edmond as well as two Independent candidates, Pat Martin of Jones and Robert Murphey of Norman.

Lankford received just more than $1 million in total contribution receipts for his re-election campaign, according to federal campaign reporting records. Lankford thanked his supporters, saying his re-election was not about him, but a set of ideas embraced by voters.

“I just happen to be the standard bearer of those ideas right now,” Lankford said. “There’s been other standard bearers before me and there will be others after me.”

No. 5: Sales taxes boom for city of Edmond

City sales tax receipts were up for the first half of the fiscal year according to December state reimbursement figures.

“We’re not halfway through our fiscal year. Sales tax totals continue to be extremely impressive,” City Manager Larry Stevens said.

The latest reimbursement check from the state of $2.736 million makes the comparison from last year’s December to this December an increase of 31.31 percent, Stevens said. December of 2011 brought in $2.083 million of collected sales tax revenue.

This period includes the last two weeks of October and the first two weeks of November, he said. The six-month aggregate total is 19.97 percent, said Ross VanderHamm, city finance officer. The City Council had budgeted for a 3 percent growth factor in this year’s budget.

Repairing hail damaged roofs from a storm this year appears to be the major contributing factor to the sales tax increase, VanderHamm said.

The city’s sales tax is 3.25 percent. It is added to the 4.50 percent state sales tax. This figure does not take into account the additional half-cent sales tax dedicated to building the downtown Public Safety Center, making the total sales tax assessed in Edmond at 8.25 percent.

No. 6: State Sen. Clark Jolley re-elected to District 41

With almost 80 percent of the vote, Sen. Clark Jolley retained his state Senate seat in November’s general election voting.

Jolley received 27,380 votes, or 79.4 percent of Senate District 41’s vote against Independent Richard Prawdzienski, who earned 7,103 votes, or 20.6 percent of the ballots cast, according to the Oklahoma State Election Board website. Senate District 41 encompasses most of Edmond and a portion of northern Logan County.

Jolley’s general election campaign was decidedly tame after the heat and passion of a tightly contested Republican primary contest this past summer against local pastor Paul Blair.

No. 7: City breaks ground on softball complex

September was a home run for the City of Edmond with the groundbreaking ceremony of the Edmond Softball Complex at Route 66 Park.

The Edmond Parks and Recreation Department along with city leaders, staff and softball enthusiasts gathered about a quarter mile east of Post Road and State Highway 66.

Construction is expected to be finished in the late summer of 2013, said Steve Commons, assistant city manager. Edmond Softball Complex is expected to open in early fall of 2013.

The city purchased the park property in 2007 for $1.5 million with money from the city’s 3/4-cent permanent sales tax approved by voters in December 2000 for capital improvements. The total project cost is estimated to be about $5.5 million to $6 million to fund four softball fields, said Ashleigh Clark, public information officer.

No. 8: Work continues on new pool facility at Mitch Park

Construction is under way for the expansion of the Multipurpose Activity Center at Mitch Park. The facility is a three-way partnership between the City of Edmond, the YMCA and Edmond Public Schools.

The city and the YMCA will each contribute $6 million and Edmond Public Schools will fund $10 million to the project. City funds are to be paid for by money reserved from the 2000 capital improvement sales tax.

The facility will offer a non-competitive swimming pool and an 8-lane, 50-meter competitive swimming pool with seating for up to 800 spectators, according to the city. It also will provide a variety of shared space that could include a lobby area, a public restroom and locker room facilities.

The project is expected to be completed next summer, according to city manager reports to the City Council.

No. 9: Covell and Kelly road work progresses

The  Covell and Kelly widening project took shape in 2012. Roads were widened for motorists from two lanes to four lanes to accommodate growth. Improvements for motorists extend on Covell from Mitch Park to Thomas Drive and on Kelly from Danforth to just north of Covell. Improvements also include street lighting, medians and new signals at Thomas Drive and the entrance to Mitch Park.

The Oklahoma Department of Transportation is responsible for funding for the $14.7 million project with the city’s share of cost at $3.2 million, according to the city manager’s office. Duit Construction is the contractor with the city’s share of $2.9 million.

No. 10: Group plans Arcadia Lake bike trails

Edmond residents took part in a discussion in October highlighting the environmental assessment for the proposed Arcadia Lake Multi-Use Trail Project. The public workshop was hosted by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

The 18-20 mile Edmond trail would wrap around Arcadia Lake. Nearby residents of the proposed trails voiced their privacy and safety concerns and questions about the project to the corps.

Mercy Health Chief Operating Officer David Tew of Edmond explained that the goal of the Arcadia Lake Coalition is to establish a multi-use paved bike and jogging trail around Arcadia Lake by 2014. The needs of the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation are also tailored into the plan, Tew said.