The Enid News and Eagle, Enid, OK

October 3, 2012

City talking monster teeth for railroad underpass

By Robert Barron, Staff Writer
Enid News and Eagle

ENID, Okla. — The East Maine railroad underpass has been hit by trucks 10 times this year, costing the city of Enid nearly $10,000 in cleanup costs.

City commissioners discussed the underpass Tuesday during their study session, as they talked about what could be done about the situation.

Jacob Foos, city staff member, presented a slide showing some of the damage that’s happened to trucks whose drivers apparently ignored the posted 11-foot, 4-inch height.

What the city can do about the structure, though, remains to be seen. The underpass is owned by Union Pacific and is not on the Enid truck route.

Foos’ presentation showed the underpass painted with monster teeth on each side and a sign warning “Truck Eating Bridge.”

City Manager Eric Benson said that approach is taken occasionally in the United Kingdom and suggested it could be worth a try here. Because height signs commonly are ignored, Benson said the monster teeth may be a better, if whimsical, warning.

Also during the study session, commissioners heard a financial report from Finance Director Jerald Gilbert.

The city of Enid has spent a lot of money the past year building civic assets, Gilbert said, but remains in good shape financially.

Total city cash and investments as of Sept. 30 totaled $62,208,119, according to the report. A year ago, total cash and investments were $70,263,609.

Sales tax receipts as of the end of the first quarter were $8,197,562. A year ago the amount totaled $6,930,000. The city had budgeted $6,862,000 in sales tax receipts for the first quarter this year, but continued strong retail sales have pushed the city’s collections higher.

Revenue from city utilities totaled $167,748 for the first quarter, more than the city’s budgeted amount of $159,000. Last year at the same time, the city had received $146,000 from all utilities.

Enid Renaissance Project expenditures have been about $17.9 million spent on renovation of Convention Hall and construction of Enid Event Center. Costs have included $2.5 million for survey and design, $12.8 million for construction, $2.5 million for real estate acquisition, with more to come, and $48,500 other Renaissance-related costs.

The city has an approved $12 million line of credit with the Bank of Oklahoma for Enid Renaissance Project, which must drawn on by Dec. 31. City commissioners do not plan to draw the entire amount and discussed no more than $10 million to aid with Renaissance costs, if needed. The six-month interest rate is 2.12 percent and can be reset every six months, until it matures in December 2021.

During the regular meeting, commissioners removed from the table and approved a plan to construct a structure to protect the Meadowlake Park carousel. Commissioners approved the base bid of $377,000, plus alternates to add glass block windows to the carrousel house — adding $14,000 — and increasing the maintenance period from one year to three years at a cost of $2,000. Henson Construction was awarded the contract.

Commissioners also approved dissolution of the Martin Luther King Jr. Holiday Commission as a city committee. Benson said the city will continue to finance the holiday celebration and provide support for the committee, but city commissioners will no longer be required to attend committee meetings.

President Derwin Norwood told commissioners there have been problems with reaching a quorum because three terms have expired and those seats have not been filled.

Clayton Nolen, former city commissioner and founder of the King commission, said he was satisfied with the approach and appreciated the city support.

Commissioners proclaimed Tuesday as Kenneth Buchanan Day, in honor of the owner of the recently closed Tia Juana Restaurant.