ELGIN - Hoping to highlight the City of Elgin, council members voted to provide funding to give the old billboard sign in Industrial Park a much-needed facelift.
Chairman of the Elgin Economic Development Authority (EEDA), David Kolker, pitched the idea of repairing the sign during the regularly scheduled city council meeting held Tuesday, Nov. 12. The Oklahoma-shaped sign, visible from 1-44 just south of Elgin, has been deteriorating over the years and according to David, "...it's a mess and BAE doesn't really want it anymore." After talking with billboard companies, David presented three options to the council.
Having the Oklahoma-shaped sign repaired and wrapped would be "extremely expensive" at about $15,000, he said. A less expensive option would involve cutting the current billboard into a rectangle or square shape, then wrapping it in a designed canvas cover at a cost of $9,000. The drawback of the second option David said is that the canvas cover only lasts a few years and would need to be replaced every two to four years at a cost of $1,000 each time.
Option three would be to let BAE remove the sign, leaving no billboard to promote the city. "We really don't have a 'Welcome to Elgin' sign," said Mayor Larry Thoma. "I'm of the opinion if you spend a few dollars here, you make it up down the road. I've never thought of advertisement for the town as a bad thing." According to David, the whole idea behind the Industrial Park was to provide good-paying jobs to the people of Elgin, not necessarily to bring in a higher population. Since the park was meant to increase quality jobs, David said having a billboard advertising the area may be helpful. Councilman Sean Bateman said he felt like the Elgin water tower did a good job of advertising the town all on its own. With that, it was asked if the city would consider splitting the cost with the EEDA. A motion was approved to do so. Despite discussion, it was not agreed upon what exactly would be displayed on the billboard once the project is complete.
ODOT FUTURE CONSTRUCTION
No action was taken despite a lengthy conversation regarding a request from the Planning Commission concerning the Oklahoma Department of Transportation's future construction plan for US Highway 277 in Elgin. Councilman Bateman stated that the PC didn't feel that ODOT's plan to convert a portion of US277 into a 3-lane highway would be adequate and urged the council to request that ODOT change their projected plan into a 4-lane highway.
While the councilman did make it clear that the PC has no "hard data", information or the cost factor ODOT used to determine the scope of the project, he said the PC simply thinks a larger roadway would more easily accommodate potential growth in town. "We'd rather have it done right once than have a 3-lane that immediately has to be adjusted," said Sean. Retired Engineer Mike Johnson volunteers his time assisting the City of Elgin and explained that while he has no access to ODOT's information to make a judgment, he feels that by placing curbs and drainage as ODOT has planned, the roadway will become "locked-in" making future expansion very difficult.
"We're still growing way beyond what ODOT may, or may not, be aware of as far as development goes," Mike said. "If money is the big issue, if it could be designed to be expanded to 4-lanes without having significant cost; it's something that should be presented together." Mayor Thoma said he's talked with Representative Toni Hasenbeck from Elgin about the matter and said she's expressed concerns that if ODOT has to reconfigure their plan for the highway, Elgin may be "backed out" of the project altogether until an even later construction date can be arranged.
"In the grand scheme of things, we're at their mercy," said Mayor Thoma. "It's their highway." Mayor Thoma said he scheduled a meeting later in the week to talk with ODOT Division 7 Engineer Jay Earp about ODOT's plans for the highway and will update the council in a future meeting.
CHICKENS ARE OK
City code revealed that Elgin residents living in zone R-1 can raise chickens after all. The Planning Commission (PC) recommended placing a maximum limit of no more than 12 birds at a residence. The motion passed. Ordinance will be written to include the limit of 12 chickens, or similar fowl, at each residence. If a property owner wishes to have more, they will be required to request approval through the PC.
ELGIN COMMUNITY CENTER
A discussion concerning several estimates to make improvements to the Elgin Community Center were tabled pending the results of a grant being sought. According to David, sections of the building's ceiling where the old florescent lights once hung have severe damage and now need to be repaired. Another request included widening the doors and replacing trim to make areas more accessible for those using a walker around the building.
Mayor Thoma said he recognizes that there are some necessary changes that need to be done to update the building like the lighting and the doors, but said the city is spending a lot of capital on the current sewer project so funds are a bit "sluggish" at the moment. The two requests were tabled until next month when the council can determine the status of a grant that is being applied for. The council did go ahead and approve to have the ECC vents repaired by having them wrapped with insulation since it was said to be a relatively inexpensive project.
The Elgin Fire Department will once again install the city's Christmas lights. A motion was made to approve $1,000 to be paid to the department for the installation.
CITY EMPLOYEES BONUS
Each year, the city's full-time employees receive a $500 bonus and this year will be no different. Council members voted to approve all bonuses except for one. Mayor Thoma said he would like to review past minutes to see what was agreed upon concerning a temporary part-time library employee.
After numerous complaints from residents on Miller Road regarding problems posed by the construction of KrisCross Gym, another complaint was made at Tuesday night’s meeting about outdoor lights. Tanda Sperling brought photographs for council members to view stating that the gym's bright outdoor lights are pointed directly at her residence causing her to suffer from migraines. Taking a moment to research code, councilman Bateman pointed out that the gym's lights are in violation section three of city code 11-8A-6. According to the code,
"The intensity of light and the arrangement of reflection devices shall be such as not to interfere with the surrounding or adjacent residential uses." Per the codebook, the council will reportedly notify the owner of the gym, Kris Wilson, by letter to correct the bright lights. The next Elgin City Council meeting will be held on Tuesday, Dec. 10, at 6 p.m. at City Hall, located at 8183 State Highway 17, Elgin. Meetings are open to the public.