The Enid News and Eagle, Enid, OK

October 25, 2012

City Hall should be more candid about Renaissance Project’s running price tag

Enid News and Eagle

ENID, Okla. — During the Enid Renaissance Project’s infancy, City Hall explained that it would be funded from savings, a redefinition of the sales tax passed by voters in 2007 and a stipulation that deferred payment of water bonds.

Convention Hall, which will re-open in November, once was on the chopping block after a bond election narrowly failed for the Gateway Enid project. But renovation of the popular facility was included in Renaissance. The Enid Event Center, future home of Enid High School basketball games and many other activities, is scheduled for completion in 2013.

We’re excited about the progress of both projects as Enid moves into the 21st century. We can’t wait to attend Convention Hall’s open house on Nov. 18, and citizens will be even more excited when the Event Center is unveiled.

Enid is benefiting from low interest rates in our historic development.

While we realize rising costs are common in construction projects of this magnitude, we wish City Hall would be more forthcoming about the total project’s increasing price tag.

Brick-and-mortar costs for the Enid Event Center and renovation of Convention Hall remain around $24 million, but other enhancements will grow the project’s total costs to more than $34 million, according to city records.

Brick-and-mortar costs will be enhanced by equipment purchases and furnishings, additional wireless equipment, purchase of nearby land and parking construction.

The $34 million figure does not include burying electrical lines in the downtown area, which is estimated by OG&E Electric Services to cost about $1 million.

We’ve continually asked for transparency from City Hall. Officials don’t want to fuel the naysayers and generate undue alarm and mistrust. Now is the time for more communication to build goodwill.