Rogers County has requested that the City of Claremore close Missouri Street from 1st Street (southern border) to Patti Page (Northern Border) for the new County Courthouse project. Despite the perceived contention over the request, the City of Claremore is not opposed to doing this as long as the county is willing to assume the costs and due diligence of making it happen.
Closing a street isn’t as easy as putting up a few barricades. Many things are involved in permanently closing even that small section of Missouri Street.
All utilities, except stormwater, will have to be vacated by the City. The City of Claremore will also have to legally give up all current and future rights to the property and transfer ownership of the land to the County.
These are things that cannot be done overnight as they have to be publicly posted and published for adequate amounts of time to allow for citizen input. All property owners near the area that will be closed have to be notified and a public hearing has to be set in order for them to voice their concerns.
The City has approved that hearing date to be August 16, which will allow the necessary amount of time for proper legal notification.
The biggest hang-up in this project was the stormwater system. It was first believed it would need to be moved and the County saw this as a cost to the City.
Estimates came in at about $3 million to complete this project. A visual inspection was done to ensure the stormwater system was adequate and in good repair, and it was. Additionally, the stormwater study showed that both the size and condition of the lines were adequate. This negated the County’s claims that the “City had to do it anyway” and moved the closure from a $3 million dollar project to about a $20,000 one.
Once that issue was resolved, the County Commissioners were notified and they accepted that any damage or relocation of the lines is at a full cost to the County.
At that point in the process, it was the responsibility of the County to make formal request and follow the statutes for closing a road. Because the process had to be started by County staff, not the City, the delay in action at that point was because of the County. While it was talked about many times, the process was not officially started until July 6, one month after the stormwater issue was decided at the first meeting in June. Once the County began following proper procedures to request the road closing and notify all utilities, the public hearing could be set.
The public voted to approve the construction of the new County Courthouse. It is the belief of City Administration, that all costs associated with building the Courthouse should come from the funds approved by the people.
City officials would have no reason to close Missouri Street if it were not for the County project and therefore feel that all costs including vacating utilities, public notice, any needed reworking of traffic lights and manpower associated with all of the above should be included in the costs to the County, not to the City. The City expects the cost of closing the street to be approximately $20,000, which in relation to the cost of the County’s entire project, is not much. But for the City, which did not receive any revenue benefit through the vote of the people on the project, the costs would negatively affect the budget.
The bottom line is that the City of Claremore is absolutely willing to close Missouri Street for Rogers County. This project is in no way connected to the traffic loop study project the City and County are also currently working on together.
If no other issues arise from the public meeting, the street closing is expected to be approved at the council meeting on August 16.
Cassie Woods is Marketing and Public Relations Director for the City of Claremore.