Commissioners hear update on Kaw Lake project

Sewer pipe and construction equipment sit Tuesday on the site at the planned development The District at Cleveland and Garriott. (Billy Hefton / Enid News & Eagle)

ENID, Okla. — City commissioners heard an update on the Kaw Lake water pipeline project during a Tuesday evening study session, delivered by a representative from Garver, the company tasked with engineering the water supply effort.

Michael Graves, Garver program manager, said notices of intent have been delivered to all 230 property owners in the path of the planned pipeline. Offers have been delivered to 184, and 99 have accepted easements.

"We're doing good, but we can't rest. I'm encouraging my land acquisition guys to keep their foot on the gas," Graves said. Land acquisition is one of several steps that need to be completed before the city can secure a multi-million dollar Oklahoma Water Resource Board loan needed to help finance the project.

"This is still the highest risk to the schedule ... because if we don't have all of our easements, it makes it very difficult to secure that loan," he said.

There are 17 property owners who have been listed as "bridge team support," meaning they would not accept easement offers and the city is asked to step in and help reach a solution.

"If they can't get past the first meeting, they hand it off to us," Chris Gdanski, head of the city's engineering department, told commissioners. "I don't want engineers or land acquisition guys trying to negotiate with lawyers. Lawyers need to talk to lawyers."

Ward 6 Commissioner David Mason asked if there is reason to think any of those 17 holdouts could get tied up in court for a long period of time.

"There's one or two that maybe we're looking into a legal remedy to go through, and we have somebody hired to do that," City Manager Jerald Gilbert said. "At some time soon, you may be seeing an item ... that would take (commission) approval to proceed on that route."

The city has narrowed its choice for a construction manager at risk for Kaw Lake down to Kansas City-based Garney Construction.

With a CMAR, the city is closer to getting an outside total cost estimate for the project, based on 30% completion.

This cost estimate initially was expected to be available around late fall of this year, but is now expected in July 2020.

Also during the meeting, the city's chief financial officer, Erin Crawford, broke down sales tax revenue earned from Enid's marijuana dispensaries.

"We've gone through and compiled the last 12 months of data that we have, which is October of '18 to September of '19," Crawford said, and the total sales tax collected over that period was roughly $175,000, equating to $4.1 million in sales.

According to Crawford, overall sales tax has continually increased in Enid as more dispensaries have opened.

Based on current figures, she anticipates the city to rake in $322,000 from marijuana dispensary sales over the next 12 months.

This would account for just under 1% of the city's annual sales tax revenue.

Commissioners convened for a regular meeting at 6:30 p.m., and approved a permit from Oklahoma Department of Environmental Quality allowing for construction of a sanitary sewer line at The District development, Cleveland and Garriott.

Work at The District has been slowed in recent weeks as the developer has awaited ODEQ approval. With this step taken care of, construction and installation of utilities can progress.

Commissioners also approved a rezoning request to "R-7" multi-family for a pair of properties off of 30th and Oklahoma.

The plan is to construct apartments on the parcels, according to Eli Berry, owner of the properties.

Two residents spoke out against the planned apartments, expressing concerns over increased traffic and noise that could come with more people living in the area.

Commissioners also approved a public hearing on Dec. 3 regarding Suddenlink Communications and the city's contract with the cable provider.

"I would encourage anyone that has questions about Suddenlink to come to that, and to bring a sleeping bag," Ward 3 Commissioner Ben Ezzell said.

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Willetts is education and city reporter for the Enid News & Eagle.
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