FISTA requests $2 million from Lawton City Council

Published: Jan. 11, 2022 at 10:44 PM CST
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LAWTON, Okla. (KSWO) - “In other words, are you going to keep coming back to us and going, ‘I need another $2 million, another $2 million?’” Ward 2 Councilman Kelly Harris said.

Lawton’s newest councilman had some questions for FISTA officials before voting on an agenda item that would give the organization $2 million more.

“We needed some additional funding to help offset the cost of construction for that 1/3 or the first phase of building out FISTA office space and the Sears building,” FISTA Chairman Clarence Fortney said.

According to Fortney, they originally planned to ask for $5 million more, but were able to cut costs down to $2 million.

Right now, there are ten staff members there using office space that support Department of Defense contractors.

“We’re at our capacity,” Fortney said. “That’s why we need to start building out because we’ve got individuals willing, companies willing to start moving in if we’ve got space for them to move to.”

To answer Harris’ question, Fortney said this will the most expensive part of the project since other parts of the space don’t need so much construction.

In the future, officials may seek funding from Representatives Tom Cole and Jim Inhofe or negotiate with contractors.

Both Cole and Inhofe wrote letters in support of FISTA, provided to council members Tuesday, but that wasn’t enough to convince them yet.

“I’m uneasy about where we’re getting the money for this and how we’re going to pay for it because we keep dipping into our funds,” Ward 6 Councilman Sean Fortenbaugh said.

If approved, the money would come from the Industrial Development Capital Improvement Projects fund.

While Harris and and Fortenbaugh agreed they support FISTA, both would like to know there’s enough money in the pot for other projects.

“I want to make sure we’re doing right for the citizens and we’re not hurting ourselves with these CIP funds,” Fortenbaugh said.

Harris said he felt there was misinformation surrounding FISTA, and he hopes he and people who live in Lawton can learn more about it.

“I would really like to see us find a way to publicize this project more so that people actually see results,” Harris said.

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