Lawton City Hall construction enters Phase Two

Lawton_Construction is right on track at Lawton's new City Hall - the old Lawton Central High.  The city accepted a bid for phase two, and it's the same contractor who is completing Phase One.  The glass atrium is nearly halfway completed, and it's the biggest chunk of the first phase.  Phase Two will include more demolition and renovations inside the building.

Seeing the progress, the average person may not realize that the project is actually off track.  They have had to stop and start construction a few times, and now they don't have the money to complete phase two, despite the fact that the city council just awarded the bid to the contractor to finish.

Ten months ago, the city was faced with a building full of asbestos, improperly erected atrium beams, rising construction costs, and a lack of funding - all of which slowed the project down.  originally, the 2005 CIP Fund was to contribute $3 Million, the MacMahan Foundation would match another $3 Million, and the Oklahoma Centennial Commission would add the final $3 Million.  However, other projects took priority.

"The Centennial Commission approved a list of projects, Lawton's project was one of those," says Lawton City Manager Larry Mitchell.  "Unfortunately, when it came time to funding the projects, other priorities were moved up, and we were moved down."  Lawton is now applying for other grants from different foundations, and even considering a local fundraiser after the completion of phase one.

The city originally hoped to move the occupants and operations of the old city hall into the new building by the end of this year, but now Mitchell says it's not going to be complete until the fall of 2009.  "I made a promise to Mayor Purcell that his office would be finished by the time his term was over," he says.  "So, if nothing else happens, we're going to put up a card table in his office, and have a cell phone and he'll be able work out of his office before the end of his term."

Mitchell says that as long as they can get the conference center built by the end of 2009, they can use the building for its original intent - for community workshops, events, and council meetings.

The building dates back to 1910 and was originally the old Lawton High School.  The city plans to have construction complete by 2010 - just in time for the structure's centennial birthday.

Count on 7News to keep you updated on construction progress.