The Enid News and Eagle, Enid, OK

March 18, 2014

Commission: ‘Boomer’ will stay in center plaza

By Dale Denwalt, staff writer
Enid News and Eagle

ENID, Okla. — Despite an alternate plan pushed by city staff and another request to delay the vote, a majority of Enid city commissioners said the life-size bronze statue of a Cherokee Strip Land Run rider should go in a plaza surrounded by Enid Event Center and Convention Hall.

The yet-to-be built downtown hotel will sit directly north of Boomer after it’s placed on a raised portion of the plaza — possibly later this summer.

Two weeks ago, Ward 1 Commissioner Ron Janzen told his fellow commissioners that sculptor Harold T. Holden and his wife, Edna Mae Holden, recommended the spot.

Tuesday night, though, Assistant City Manager Joan Riley offered another solution: Relocate the city’s Doughboy statue on one side of Public Library of Enid and Garfield County and place Boomer in a landscaped spot on the other.

“These two statues are two of the icons of Enid,” she said. “My thought, and the thought of staff who did this research, is how awesome it would be from a historic and educational point of view to place the Doughboy statue back in its original position on the west side of the library lawn, and Boomer close to the original position of the Land Office on the east side.”

That spot, she added, could complement other planned improvements in the area, including a downtown trail, Renaissance green space and a retail area next to the proposed hotel.

“It could be designed specifically for him, from the ground up. It would give you a place to walk, to sit, to learn more about the history,” Riley said.

When the next budget cycle begins later this spring, the city already has plans to eliminate the raised area to the east of the library. Plans call for removal of the low brick wall and a gentle sloping of the lawn to sidewalk level.

“If we’re going to do that, what else could we do to enhance the further of downtown from the civic area and beautify the next block?” Riley said.

Janzen, however, stuck with his own proposal.

“I still think that’s the best location for it,” he said. “When Boomer was donated to the city, it was donated to be placed in connection with the existing conference center that was being built at the time. To me, we’ve got an ideal location there at the west end of the plaza. It’s a perfect placement.”

Dr. David Vanhooser, commissioner for Ward 6, said he received about 20 calls over the past two weeks from people supporting Janzen’s proposal. With the staff’s recommendation, though, he asked the vote be tabled until the next commission meeting April 1 so it could be considered by the public.

Janzen pressed his motion, which was seconded by Ward 2 Commissioner Mike Stuber.

“I don’t see any reason to kick this around,” Janzen said.

Mayor Bill Shewey, Ward 3 Commissioner Ben Ezzell and Rodney Timm of Ward 4 joined them in approving the location.

Vanhooser and Ward 5 Commissioner Tammy Wilson voted against it.

Other business

During their informal study session, commissioners heard from City Planner Chris Bauer on a recommendation to let the architect handling the downtown hotel also help design a new sidewalk around the structure. The so-called “streetscape” would be designed to aesthetically match the final design for the hotel’s exterior.

Engineering staff also presented more detailed plans for the Oakwood-to-Garland extension of the trail system.

Chris Gdanski said the project will include a stormwater detention pond and a bridge. At about a mile, the trail is expected to cost about $950,000 to build. Bids are due back to the city by April 9.

Bids on the trail extension south of Rupe to Meadowlake Park are due April 16.

Because of recent discussion on vacant and abandoned city structures, the city’s code office examined the number of residential and commercial buildings.

Interim Code Administrator Angela Rasmussen said there are 495 residential lots and 123 commercial properties that sit vacant.

Four of the commercial structures have issues the code office could enforce, compared to 22 residential lots.

Bauer then recommended the commission kickstart a new comprehensive plan that was most recently amended nine years ago.

At a price tag approaching half a million dollars, the study could identify needs and opportunities, establish public policy and be a tool for staff and elected officials in determining where city money should be spent.

The plan would take into account recent retail investment trends and the expansion of industry.

It would incorporate housing, water, parks and recreation, transportation and infrastructure, along with a revision of the city’s zoning ordinances.

Once a firm is selected, the study could be available to commissioners by the end of 2014. City Manager Eric Benson pledged that input from the public and the city commission would be used to help guide the comprehensive plan.

During the commission’s regular meeting, a contract was approved to renovate the Santa Fe Depot. The roof there leaks, and Sexton Construction will be tasked with fixing damaged areas and installing waterproofed roofing. The existing tiles on the roof will have to be removed temporarily. The contract is worth $69,900.

Downey Construction won a bid to construct the 211 W. Chestnut drainage improvement project. BNSF Railway agreed to share in half of the estimated $279,655 cost to eliminate flooding problems.

Commissioners also approved dividing a plot of land in the Chisholm Creek Village subdivision into 33 additional spaces. This would be the final plat in the development.