Council approves 'Steetscape' agreement with ODOT

Robert Smith
Pawhuska Journal-Capital

Pawhuska city councilors agreed Feb. 28 to enter into a formal agreement with the Oklahoma Department of Transportation to finally proceed with the long-awaited downtown “streetscape” project. The project is to include improvements in the area along Main Street (which is Highway 60 through town) from Palmer Avenue on the west, to the alley east of The Pioneer Woman Mercantile on the east, and then to Sixth Street on the north.

Assistant City Manager Tonya Hutson said work could begin on the roughly $2.95-million project by August. The maximum, worst-case financial possibility for city government is that it might have to contribute just under $419,000 to the project, Hutson said. The Osage Nation will be a project partner through its Roads Department, she said. The ON contribution includes some $150,000 in cash and about $908,000 of in-kind contributions, she said.

The Council also agreed Feb. 28 to commit up to $99,800 for the development of a new, 20-year Comprehensive Plan. City government is engaging an architecture, planning and landscape architecture firm called TSW for the preparation of the document. TSW has its headquarters in Atlanta, but also has a Tulsa office.  A representative of the company met recently with Pawhuska officials to describe TSW’s services.

Interim City Manager Laura Teague commented that she had wrestled with the prospect of earmarking so much money for the Comprehensive Plan, but she suggested looking at it as spending only about $5,000 per year over a 20-year period for a broad plan for the future development of Pawhuska.

The Council held a public hearing Feb. 28 that was an element in the development of a new Capital Improvement Plan. The Indian Nations Council of Governments (INCOG) is handling that planning process for city government. Residents who attended the hearing commented about their interest in a range of potential investments – from lakefront improvements to sidewalks that residents could use to walk from downtown and from neighborhoods to the new Osage Casino/Hotel that is nearing completion this year, as well as other commercial destinations. There was even a question about the future of the old “Swinging Bridge,” which led to explanations about difficulties regarding property ownership, as well as Americans With Disabilities Act considerations.

Teague said city government is interested in helping to address Pawhuska’s need for new housing by targeting surplus property parcels for development as residences. All of this discussion took place in context of the Council having held a general planning meeting Feb. 23, during which it ranked water treatment system improvements as a leading priority. There seemed to be interest among councilors in the construction of a new, multi-million-dollar water treatment plant.

The Council has agreed to schedule another general planning meeting for March 28.