March 4, 2013

Council debates over master plan

James Bright, Managing Editor,
The Express-Star

CHICKASHA — Discussion over whether to stick to the city's master plan raged last night during the Chickasha City Council meeting.

The disagreement stemmed from an item on the agenda dealing with the installation of street lighting on the east side of the Choctaw Overpass.

Council Member Howard Carpenter said the signs deviated from the city's master plan, which detailed signs with arches where as the new design shows simply vertical street lights.

"We spent all this money on the master plan and I hope we don't deviate from it on smaller details," Carpenter said.

City Manager Stewart Fairburn said the new design was created to match the classic aesthetic of the downtown area more closely.

"These lights are very similar to those in Bricktown and other areas in Oklahoma City," Fairburn said. "This also seems to keep more with what we have in downtown right now."

Despite the debate, the item to solicit bids for installation of the lights passed 7-2 with Carpenter and Mike Sutterfield dissenting.

The back-and-forth carried over into the discussion on whether to solicit bids for construction of downtown's sidewalks.

Although the item was approved, Carpenter expressed dismay on the council's usage of the master plan in this regard as well.

"We need to change the verbiage of any motion that referencesthe master plan if we aren't going to use it," he said.

Progression of the new police headquarters moved forward last night with discussion that was much lighter than those involving the master plan.

Council Member John Toland said he was concerned the council was moving too fast in the transformation of the old Army Reserve Center into a new police headquarters. He said the chief of police should provide the council with a preliminary estimate of everything needed before construction moved forward.

Fairburn assured Toland that multiple opinions would be taken in account before construction began.

Carpenter said he was a little confused why this item was on the agenda.

 He said he assumed the issue was still under discussion.

"I know I am not the only one who thought we were still in discussion mode on this and that we weren't ready to pull the trigger on it," he said.

The council approved consideration of awarding the annual street overlay project bid.