Lawton_The City of Lawton's project to revitalize the old Central Junior High School building continues to be about six months behind schedule. However, Phase One is nearly complete. The building will house all city officials, along with the mayor and city council. It also will be open to the public, with access to conference rooms, and the reception area behind a large atrium.
To wrap up Phase One, construction continues with installation of the glass panes over the new atrium, replacing old blue windows with new white ones, polishing entrance doors, and paving a large circle driveway. The city continues to wait for funding for Phase Two.
Phase One is nearly six months behind schedule because of lack of funding. City Manager Larry Mitchell says a promise from the Oklahoma Centennial Commission for $3 million fell through last spring. The city has been left with only $1 million for the project. Progress on construction for the project depends on cash that is available. ""We need significant monies to finish the project," said Mitchell. "If anybody has a million dollars they'd like to donate, and help us fund the auditorium improvements, we'd like to receive a check or contribution for that project." Mitchell's humorous statement is a serious offer to reward a generous donor. "You know we'd put someone's name on a conference room if they wanted to write a check for $40,000 or $50,000, and help us finish out a conference room or something like that."
Mitchell says the current goal is to simply make use of the building. "Our goal is to have enough of the building done so we can start using it so we can start opening it up, and have small workshops there - use the lobby for receptions, that sort of thing," he said.
Phase One was for the west wing of the building, and Phase Two will begin work on the south wing which includes several city offices on the first floor, a conference center, and auditorium. The project is for all of Lawton - not only city employees. He says they have a deadline to complete Phase Two by this time next year. Mitchell says he's made an unconventional agreement. "I've got a side agreement that the mayor will be able to sit in the new office before March 2010...that's our game plan anyway," he said.
Phase Two also will include turning an adjacent field into a parking lot. Mitchell says their best case scenario is to complete all three phases - complete renovation of the entire building - by 2011.
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