Could a proposed land swap end the debate over where to put the new Oklahoma County Jail?
The school district’s superintendent told Oklahoma County commissioners he will ask his board to consider a land swap that would put the planned new athletics complex further away from the proposed prison at 1901 E Grand and closer to the campus if the district decides to build there.
The land swap idea, currently being pursued by Commissioner Miles Davidson, was revealed this week through a Jan. 30 letter sent by Crooked Oak Public Schools Superintendent Bradley M. Richards to each of the commissioners.
In the letter and during an interview Friday, Richards stressed that his district does not support 1901 E. Grand as a future jail site.
But if the district decides to build there, Richards said he believes Crooked Oak Public Schools and other potential neighbors should at least try to improve the areas where they live, work and go to school.
“Like everyone else in Oklahoma County, we do not wish to have a jail in our backyard; however, we can see that the need for a new location is imminent,” Richards wrote. “Furthermore, we understand that the 1901 E Grand location appears to fit the criteria of all other options.
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“Therefore, Crooked Oak Schools will consider an equal land swap for our (planned) athletic complex, with detailed contingencies discussed. We believe a land swap could not only provide an athletic facility closer…to our campus, but also could It also brings other improvements to our community.”
The commissioner says the proposed swap includes the school district, county and Oklahoma City
Davidson suggests asking his colleagues to consider purchasing the large 1901 site from Willowbrook Investments LLC and Garrett & Co. Resources LLC for $5.42 million for the prison site, as well as the purchase of 30 acres at 1100 S Eastern Ave. Currently offered for sale by Allen Contracting. a company.
Davidson said informal discussions have been held about Allen Contracting’s land acquisition costs, but he would not disclose the cost Friday.
Once these purchases are made, Oklahoma County will ask Crooked Oak Public Schools, which already owns the land near SE 22nd and Eastern Avenue, where it wants to build its new fields, to transfer ownership of the existing athletics fields (on land adjacent to that location) to Oklahoma County in exchange for Allen Land Contracting.
Oklahoma County, in turn, will seek to transfer ownership of the current Crooked Oak athletics fields to Oklahoma City, if it agrees to give the county land located at SE 22, between the Crooked Oak land and the proposed prison site. The city owns that land and currently uses it as a maintenance area for Trosper Park.
Through informal discussions involving Oklahoma City Councilman Todd Stone and City Manager Craig Freeman, Davidson said he also learned that Oklahoma City could consider building a pedestrian walkway that would allow Crooked Oak students to safely move from campus to the new athletics fields.
If the deals go through as Davidson hopes, he estimates Oklahoma County will have 80 acres of land for the prison at 1901 E. Grand.
A new sports complex to replace the one used since the 1960s
Richards said Friday that his Board of Education has not yet been asked to approve the land swap proposal, though he said he has informally discussed the idea with two of his board members and promised to keep them informed.
Until the idea of a land swap came up, Crooked Oak had planned to build its new sports complex on land near SE 22nd and Eastern Avenue, directly east of its existing sports fields.
The new complex will replace the soccer field the district has used since the late 1960s, and will include a new outfield track, soccer/soccer field, and softball field equipped with turf, new seating, a press box, concessions and related facilities, as well as a new scoreboard and lighting. .
Voters approved a $26.15 million bond issue to build the complex in September 2023.
Richards said he has asked the architect and contractor the district hired to do the athletics complex work to pause the project while his district waits for Oklahoma County’s decision on where to build a new jail.
“We need to take advantage and demand as much as we can” if the county chooses to build its new jail near that site, Richards said.
“Oklahoma City has not put a lot of resources into this area of the community, and we may be able to use this as a starting point where we can start asking how” to change that, he said.
Davidson: “This is our best yet”
Davidson said the land swap proposal, if successful, would benefit the county, school district, Trosper Park in Oklahoma City and residents of nearby Del City.
Davidson said he believes the 1901 E Grand location is “the best we have yet,” given its available infrastructure.
“The kids won’t be near jail, they won’t have to take the bus to their home soccer games anymore,” he said, adding that it would also move Crooked Oak’s athletics fields away from one of Oklahoma City’s largest soccer camps. Homeless residents.
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Additionally, Davidson said he is working on plans with the district to add school resource officers (positions held by off-duty deputies) to its staff.
If the jail were to be built at 1901 E Grand, Davidson said it could include an Oklahoma County Sheriff’s Office substation that could also be used by Oklahoma City police to bolster the presence of law officers throughout the area.
“Oklahoma County is the pivot in this deal, because it is a three-way deal with Oklahoma City on one side and Crooked Oak on the other side,” Davidson said. “We also have to be the one who solves all the problems.”
When asked about ongoing discussions between Oklahoma City and Oklahoma County, the city manager confirmed that they are ongoing.
“City leaders are committed to working closely with the county to find a suitable location,” Freeman said.
News about the letter spread quickly among Del City leaders who repeatedly argued against locating the prison on the Grand Boulevard site.
Discussions should take place in a public space, said Gina Standridge, a member of the Midwest City-Del City School Board.
“Miles Davidson convinced them that things were going one way or another there, so they better take what they can get,” she said.
This article originally appeared in The Oklahoman: Oklahoma County Commissioner proposes land swap to build new prison