LAWTON, Okla._Lawton's Mayor Fred Fitch says he has a positive outlook for the city and believes there are big things headed for the Lawton-Fort Sill community.
Those remarks were made during an updated 2015 State of the City address Friday afternoon. The mayor says crime is continuing to decrease and the city is making headway on preventative measures for future drought situations, which is still a top priority.
One of the biggest reliefs for the city, Mayor Fitch said, was the announcement earlier this month that no soldiers would be cut from Fort Sill. He said the estimated 6,000 that could have been cut would have taken a drastic toll on the Lawton-Fort Sill economy.
"Home prices would have fallen down, bankruptcy would have occurred, car dealer ships would have suffered, retail would have suffered. We'd have suffered just totally, all of us together, and it would have been a disaster," Mayor Fitch said.
In addition to zero cuts being made at Fort Sill, another win was the May rains. The lack of water had the potential to be an economic burden. While the city may not be in a drought anymore, Mayor Fitch says it is important they be proactive about finding alternative water resources.
"The plans that we have with the study that will be coming back, include test wells, include well completion. That will hopefully provide five to seven million gallons of water a day," Mayor Fitch said.
He also said a grant from the Attorney General's Office to the police department put more officers on the street and patrolling 24/7, which has helped to reduce crime in Ward 2.
"It led to a lot more arrests, and a lot more control of crime in that area," Mayor Fitch said. "Year before last, we had a five percent reduction in criminal activities in the community. Last year, we had a 12 percent reduction. So, we are making headway on the reduction of crime in this community."
Mayor Fitch says they are also making progress toward breaking ground on the new police and fire stations, city jail and courthouse.
"It'll be about 18 months, because you're going through architects, you're going through all the process to build $36 million worth of buildings. Buildings that are going to last us for the next 50-60 years," Mayor Fitch explained.
Mayor Fitch says the forward momentum is a good sign.
"There's a lot of projects that are getting ready to go. I feel very good and comfortable with where we are," Mayor Fitch said.
The mayor also said with the expense cuts in the 2016 fiscal year budget, for the first time in years, the city expects to come out on top. Saving at least $1 million to be added into the 2017 budget.