Excitement for downtown redevelopment grows at City Council, new fire station facilities approved to begin design process

Downtown Master Plan (DMP) consultants, Ken Boone and Taylor Plummer, from Ochsner Hare & Hare (OHH), introduced members of the City Council to the comprehensive redevelopment plan they have created at the Council’s study session on Monday evening at City Hall. 

The consultants, who joined the meeting remotely from their office in Kansas City, explained that the plan “is an articulation of the community leaders’ goals for downtown Sapulpa over the next 10-20 years. During the past 12 months, the downtown planning process has engaged residents, business owners, and property owners through a variety of engagement exercises and events to identify issues, opportunities, and values related to land use; development, redevelopment, and rehabilitation; design and aesthetics; connectivity; parking; parks and open space; programming; and economic development.

In addition to public input, community leaders have a goal for downtown Sapulpa: to attract and retain businesses, visitors, residents, and developers. To meet this goal and other aspirations for downtown Sapulpa, a focus on improvement is pertinent.”

The DMP is both broad in scope and incredibly detailed. For example, some of the broader suggestions include rerouting highway traffic away from Dewey from Main to the railroad tracks near Merrifield Office Supply, taking that section of Dewey down to two lanes of traffic to provide angled parking spaces, better walkability and bike-ability for pedestrians, and outdoor dining space, and infilling vacant lots along the streets in the defined target area. “We need to put some teeth back in the smile,” so to speak, explained Boone. 

Parking lots can be put in the middle of city blocks so they are both easily accessible for visitors but not a highlight of the streetscape. The “net effect” of the plan is more parking, just not necessarily on “the main drag. We have a chance to create an identity that shows a really great view of downtown,” said Boone. 

Another example of the broad scope of the plan is creating more living space downtown—these residents would naturally increase commerce and business on a regular basis. People who live downtown will support your businesses every day. “These are the people who want dining, recreation, and nightlife options, or they will go elsewhere to find it.” It’s important that we have “a variety of destinations and things to do so residents and visitors spread the word and continue to bring more people here.” 

Boone explained that a vibrant downtown does not encompass one main street with a few blocks. “Let’s be bigger than that.” The aim is to have a cohesive, diverse section comprised of the heart of downtown and its surrounding streets and alleys.

The more detailed parts of the plan include appropriate plants and flowers for the “preferred landscape palette,” public art installations, building facades and styles, ideas for public events, and many more.  

Boone praised the condition of many aspects of the downtown area, and assured the Council that the “object is not to ‘wipe the slate clean.’ It’s deciding, ‘What do we want to preserve and protect? Where do we want more activity? What needs to be completely revamped?’ You have so much beautiful historic architecture. Let’s use it. Most downs no longer have this.”

Related: See the major points of the downtown master plan.

There should also be opportunities for visitors to create “the memories and experiences that are so important to get people to keep coming back. You need to create ‘moments’ in your downtown where people want to take a photo, meet up with friends and family, or host big or small festivals. There should be aspects that are cool, funky, and interesting that provide some relief from all the historic character,” the consultants said. The hope is that some features and buildings “establish who you are and your identity and others break that a little bit and make opportunities for visitors to have some fun. These things matter to the people you’re going to bring in who will fill your cash registers.” 

Another important component of the plan is “meaningful civic space for events like movies on the lawn and concerts.” One of the goals of the plan is to connect the different downtown zones in a way that easily and safely allows people to filter back and forth between them. 

Plummer wrapped up the presentation by explaining some of the next steps and ways to implement the plan. One of the most important and more complex parts involves transferring ownership of the downtown section of Route 66 from ODOT to the City of Sapulpa. This will give the city more local control of the street. It will always remain “Historic Route 66,” and OHH believes that the benefits to the transfer will far outweigh any costs the City would have to assume. 

OHH will host another open house to gather public input next Wednesday, March 10 from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. at the SeneGence Event Center, 117 East Dewey Avenue. All are encouraged to attend. 

At the regular City Council meeting, it was unanimously approved to enter into a cooperative agreement with Tulsa County for the 2020 Community Development Block Grant improvement program to upgrade East Line Avenue from State Highway 97 (Main Street) to the MLK overpass just west of Mission. The allocated cost is approximately $156K and the project is to be complete by the end of June. 

The next two items involved approving the hiring of GS Helms & Associates to provide professional services for the two new fire department projects. These are the construction of the new Station #3 on East Murphy Street and the construction of the new Administrative and Training Center on Sahoma Lake Road. 

Fire Chief David Taylor said “we are very pleased with the preliminary designs. Greg [the owner of GS Helms] has done great work in the past and we have a lot of faith in him.”  

The contracts between the City and Helms include design and architectural services, construction management services, procurement and bidding services, and other usual and customary structural, mechanical and electrical engineering services involved in the construction of the two new facilities. 

Helms will be paid a 6 percent fee on both projects, which equals $120K for Station #3 and $96K for the admin and training center. 

This was unanimously approved by the Council. 

E. B. Thompson

E. B. Thompson

Elizabeth Thompson is the News Editor for Sapulpa Times.
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