City of Lawton staff is ready to move forward with plans to renovate the historic Central Fire Station, and to sign an agreement with the State of Oklahoma specifying everybody’s roles in the Goodyear Boulevard bypass project.
City Council members will act on a recommendation today to sign an agreement for professional design services with C.H. Guernsey and Company, the firm tasked with helping to convert Lawton’s first stand-alone fire station into administrative space for Lawton Fire Department. The station on Southwest D Avenue functioned as a fire station for almost 100 years, from its opening in 1931 until spring 2021. It spans fire-fighting eras from water carts to ladder trucks so tall they barely fit through the bay doors.
Firefighting crews left the station in May 2021 to move into the Lawton Fire Safety Complex on Railroad Street. City administrators said they planned to use the empty space as administrative offices, to include housing for training and the Fire Marshal’s Office. Deputy City Manager Dewayne Burk, a retired Lawton fire chief, said city officials want to preserve the fire station because of its history (a history recognized by inclusion on the National Register of Historic Places in 2016).
With council approval, C.H. Guernsey would develop a master plan to show how the facility will be fully utilized, with renovations done in phases. Phase one is designed to meet immediate needs and “align with current available funding” ($839,953.08 remains for the project). The firm’s work will include development of the master plan, designs for phase one, a cost estimate of that work, fire flow testing, geotechnical borings and report for potential west-side parking lot, and topographic surveys.
Council members also are being asked to proceed with plans to create an industrial bypass for the west industrial park by extending Goodyear Boulevard from its termination point at Cache Road north/northeast to link into the U.S. 62 bypass. It’s a project that has been discussed for years as a means of taking heavy truck traffic off Lawton streets while giving them direct assess to the industrial park and U.S. 62.
Today’s action formalizes an agreement between the City of Lawton and the Oklahoma Department of Transportation, which has committed to providing 75 percent of the construction cost, up to $16 million. Most recent estimates set the project cost at $21.3 million.
The agreement’s specifications are similar to other road projects when Lawton has received state funding. Here, the city will be responsible for 25 percent of construction costs (or the difference between $16 million and total cost, should cost estimates increase). It also must provide construction plans, acquire necessary right of way, do any utility relocations and perform needed environmental studies.
The project, listed in ODOT’s 2025 fiscal year, includes one-half mile of road construction and a new U.S. 62 interchange.
Council members also will act on a staff recommendation that could move residential bulk collections to Mondays, if the city can add four 11-yard rear load refuse trucks to help with the program.
The proposal — to cost an estimated $850,000 — would give the city enough vehicles to help handle bulk collections on a busier day of the week. Now, those collections begin on Wednesday (the lightest commercial collection day) because the rear-load vehicles also are used for commercial collections. City administrators said another benefit is that drivers of those 11-yard trucks do not require commercial driver licenses (CDLs). Like many entities, the city is having trouble attracting drivers with CDLs and work is slowed by a lack of drivers.
The action is part of the city staff’s list of recommendations they said could lessen problems with trash and debris in the community. However, if the council agrees to the action, changes can’t occur until January 2024 because the truck delivery will take eight months.
Today’s agenda also includes a discussion from Acting City Attorney Tim Wilson about replacing former Ward 6 Councilman Sean Fortenbaugh. One of the four items in executive session will be discussions of particular candidates who have applied for the city manager’s position.
Fortenbaugh resigned effective March 27, citing health problems he said would keep him from fully representing Ward 6 constituents. The council will accept applications through April 21 from Ward 6 residents who want the job. The council accepted the resignation of City Manager Michael Cleghorn effective March 8, and has initiated a replacement process. City Attorney John Ratliff will be acting city manager until that process is completed.