Bixby Mayor Sees Bright Future
By EMILY RAMSEY
STATE OF THE CITY: On Dec. 7, Mayor John Easton gave his State of the City address, where he spoke about the city’s recent passage of four Vision propositions and how those projects will help to bring together north and south Bixby by encouraging economic development and tourism in south Bixby.
EMILY RAMSEY for GTR Newspapers
Bixby Mayor John Easton began his State of the City address on Dec. 7 trumpeting two major victories: the Bixby Spartans’ win over the Sand Springs Sandites, earning the football team its second successive title as 6A-II Champions, and the successful passage of four Vision 2025 repurposing propositions.
“All four propositions passed with 70 percent or better voter approval, giving us a clear mandate to move forward with additional public safety and streets personnel, with Downtown River District development and improvements, and with sustained funding for our public parks,” Easton said.
Much of the projects in the propositions will focus on areas south of 111th Street, including the Arkansas River, downtown Bixby and city parks.
“We’re going to lose the long-held stigma that we’re divided into a north Bixby and south Bixby,” he said, outlining two ways:
By creating reasons for residents of Bixby and the larger metro area to visit southern Bixby through creating Arkansas River access and recreation areas, an improved downtown Bixby, easier access to Washington Irving Park. Second, by creating reasons for businesses to invest in south Bixby, including downtown Bixby.
The next steps for the city’s Downtown River District plans will be to hold public meetings in March and May to gain public feedback on plan designs.
The first change to come downtown will be the transformation of Charley Young park into an event venue, with the use of supplemental Vision 2025 money.
Also, thanks to proposition approval, the city’s parks now have a sustainable source of funding, “meaning that no money will have to come out of our general funds to help our parks,” said Easton.
The importance of maintaining the quality of the city’s parks, including Bentley Park, can be seen in the numbers, he continued.
During one year at Bentley Park, 950 baseball teams play regular season games, 335 softball teams play regular season games, 735 soccer teams play games each fall season, and it hosts 14 multi-day baseball tournaments, three World Series, 13 multi-day softball tournaments, and two major annual soccer tournaments.
Regarding commercial development, a new opened in October near 103rd Street and Memorial Drive, “with a new look inside and out for ,” he said. “And Bixby is the first in the state of Oklahoma to feature it.”
Other recently-completed expansion or renovation projects include Rib Crib near 128th Street and Memorial Drive; a new freestanding AT&T building under construction at 151st Street and Memorial Drive; a $500,000 renovation and re-leasing of the former Shops at Regal Plaza, recently renamed PostRock Plaza; a new QuikTrip location under construction at 121st Street and Memorial Drive; current renovations of the former Santa Fe Cattle Company restaurant near 121st Street and Memorial Drive, which will be the new home of Jimmy’s Egg as well as a second restaurant; construction on a new Taco Bell, behind Walgreens near 111th Street and Memorial Drive; and construction on Chateau Villas, a luxury multi-family apartment complex, at 123rd Street and Memorial Drive.
Regarding residential construction, in 2015, more than 250 homes were built, which exceeds the number of homes built in 2014, and, in the past year, the city of Bixby has seen an average of 26 building permits per month. Currently, 700 residential lots are ready for construction.
The city will undergo a number of road construction projects in 2016.
Currently, intersection improvements are underway at 136th and 146th streets and Memorial Drive. Both projects will improve safety and ease traffic congestion.
Easton hopes to see work begin in 2016 on the intersection of 111th Street and Mingo Road, with a stoplight being added and lane expansion.
“Once we complete (that project), we will move south to 121st Street and Mingo and then to 131st and Mingo,” he said.
The Mingo corridor projects are being funded with 2011 bond money plus $2.8 million dollars in federal grant funds.
Currently, along Memorial Drive, a south left turn lane is being added at 136th Street, and a new stoplight is being added at 146th Street. The next step will be to add a stoplight at 126th Street.
For these projects, “the city will be using local funds plus nearly $1 million dollars in additional state and federal grants and matching funds,” said Easton.