Ponca City Now - July 26, 2023 4:21 pm

The Ponca City Board Commissioners met in regular session on July 24, 2023. Mayor Homer Nicholson called the meeting to order, which was followed by the pledge of allegiance. Commissioners, Robert Bodick, Garrett Bowers, Paul Taylor, and Kelsey Wagner were present.

Consent Agenda

Under the Consent Agenda, the City Commission approved the minutes of the Ponca City Board of Commissioners regular session held July 10, 2023 and work session held July 17, 2023; a resolution appropriating money for the payment of claims against the City of Ponca City, Oklahoma; and resolution amending the operating budget of various funds for Fiscal Year 2023-24.


Under Reports, City Manager Craig Stephenson reported the following items.

  1. The City of Ponca City and the Ponca City Police Department will have a ribbon cutting and open house for the new Ponca City Police Station, on Monday, July 31, 2023, from 2:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. The ribbon cutting will be at 2:00 p.m. followed by the open house. The new Police Station, located at 300 E. Oklahoma Avenue, will be open for the public to enjoy come-and-go tours of the facility during the open house.
  2. The City of Ponca City is a member of OMPA (Oklahoma Municipal Power Authority). OMPA recently reported to its members that the cost of wholesale power during April and May of this year was lower than normal, due to the efficiency of the OMPA resources and depressed costs on the natural gas market. Energy costs normally passed onto OMPA member cities through the energy rate were enough below budget, that the decision was made by OMPA to defer revenue to later in the year. These revenues will act as a credit to lower OMPA members’ wholesale costs during the summer months, when costs are traditionally at their peak. Henry Hub spot prices for natural gas for the months of April and May were $2.16 and $2.15 per million Btu, respectively. That is only 32 percent and 26 percent of what they were during the same months in 2022. The Energy Information Administration reported retail electric rates for all sectors in Oklahoma to be the sixth cheapest in the United States for April 2023, coming in slightly below what they were a year earlier.


  1. The Oklahoma Academy will be hosting a listening session on Affordable, Accessible, and Attainable Housing on Wednesday, August 2, from 12:00 p.m. to 1:30 p.m. in the Commission Chamber of City Hall, located at 516 E. Grand Avenue.


  1. The ambulance that was ordered in 2021, arrived July 24 and will be put into service following the Oklahoma State Department of Health – EMS Division’s inspection this week.


  1. The Mayor and Stephenson attended the Federal Railroad Administration meeting in New Orleans recently to support getting the Heartland Flyer extended north form Oklahoma City to Newton, Kansas. This connection is a top priority of Amtrak, in order to connect the southern portion of the country to the north, and east to west.

New Business


Under New Business, the City Commission approved an ordinance amending Title 6, of the City Code of Ponca City, entitled “Public Health and Safety”; creating a new Chapter 8, entitled “Abandoned Buildings”; providing for definitions; statutory authority; declaration of public nuisance and abatement procedures; petition for removal; administrative officer; right of appeal; repealing all ordinances in conflict; and providing for severability.

The Oklahoma Legislature has created new statutory language that addresses abandoned buildings, public nuisances, and abatement options available to cities. In doing so, an opportunity is available to allow municipalities to create an official list of abandoned buildings and charge a fee to owners for all lawful municipal regulatory, nuisance, police and fire actions in relation to the abandoned building. “Abandoned building” means any building located within the municipality that is not currently occupied and has been declared unsecure or dilapidated pursuant to Title 11 of the Oklahoma Statutes and remains in such condition.

Once a building is declared to be an abandoned building, the City can then remit costs, quarterly, to the owner. There will be three fees associated with each action taken. The first will be the cost of the actual action taken, which can vary based on the lowest responsible bidder. The second cost will be for an hourly rate for each code enforcement officer, police officer, or fire fighter with a minimum of one hour per incident. The third fee would be the administrative quarterly fee to cover mailings, publication, filing fees, and all other administrative functions.

The goals of the ordinance is to abate nuisance structures, if declared abandoned, quicker and more efficiently through the creation of an abandoned building list; assess to the owner of the property all costs associated with any regulatory, nuisance, fire, or police action taken regarding an abandoned building; reduce the blighting conditions that dilapidated and abandoned buildings are causing in neighborhoods; and encourage owners to spend money repairing or maintaining structures or removing them instead of continually paying re-occurring costs associated with the structure being abandoned and/or dilapidated.

During the July 17, 2023 City Commission work session, staff clarified what would be classified as an abandoned building compared to a vacant building, examples were given in regard to the increased efficiency with which staff could abate abandoned buildings once they were added to the list, and clarification was given on how an owner could petition to be removed from the list once progress and a plan of action is shown for an abandoned building.

The City Commission approved a resolution setting the hourly and administrative costs associated with abandoned buildings in the City of Ponca City. The State of Oklahoma allows municipalities the ability to charge owners of abandoned buildings quarterly for each hour that Code Enforcement, Police, and Fire employees spend responding to and enforcing actions associated with an abandoned property, as well as an administrative fee. It was recommended that the hourly rate for each Code Enforcement, Police, and Fire employee be set at $70.00 per hour and that the administrative fee be set at $300.00.

The City Commission approved a resolution requesting the Oklahoma Municipal League Legislative Committee support legislation for the 2024 State of Oklahoma Legislative Session allowing for Code Enforcement Officials to regulate mere vacant buildings, as they constitute and lead up to the dilapidation of property and the cause of community health, safety and welfare issues. The Ponca City community has had to deal with many forms of blight in recent years, most of which can be regulated or enforced by the Development Services code enforcement officers and building officials.

One gap in the City’s ability to regulate and prevent dilapidated buildings is the regulation of merely vacant buildings. Many states allow code enforcement officials to regulate vacant buildings the same way they regulate dilapidated buildings due to allowing buildings, especially in commercial districts, to be vacant causes lowering of property values and is a blight in many downtown areas. This resolution allows for the City of Ponca City’s support of the Oklahoma Municipal League’s Legislative Committee to begin the process of lobbying for and supporting legislation that would give communities the ability to regulate vacant buildings after having been vacant for one year.

Trail Project

The City Commission approved an ODOT (Oklahoma Department of Transportation) project maintenance, financing and right-of-way agreement for the Hartford Avenue, Red Bud Park to Mockingbird Drive, Project. The total grant award for the project is $1,004,113.00 from ODOT with a local match from the City of Ponca City of $251,028.00, for a total project cost of $1,255,141.00. This trail project will encompass the design and construction of an 8-feet-wide, lighted and stripped concrete trail on the north side of Hartford Avenue to Pecan Road, then across the crosswalk and north to Mockingbird Drive. This trail project will serve the neighborhoods surrounding Woodlands Elementary School, as well as the community at large. Additionally, there are several churches along this trail segment which have after school programs for students. This connection will enable all students to pass safely from their school to their programs, as well as their neighboring homes. Also, this trail segment will tie into the existing trail project at Redbud Park which connects the Marland Mansion and other trail extensions that serve the City of Ponca City.

Attucks Park Improvements

The City Commission approved a budget modification for Contract No. 18609 CDBG 22 from the Oklahoma Department of Commerce providing for additional leverage from the City of Ponca City, increasing the total project cost for the Attucks Park Improvement Project, and authorizing execution of all other necessary documents. The Attucks Park Improvement project was previously approved by the Board of Commissioners on June 13, 2022. This project consists of poured-In-place playground surfacing which has been completed. The two remaining components of this project include the installation of a CXT precast concrete restroom, basketball court demolition work, replacement and installation of a new basketball goal systems, and concrete sidewalks from the playground area/splash pad area to the new restroom facility. In order to complete the entire project as planned, and due to the bids that were received for the construction contract as well as the installation of the precast concrete restroom cost, an additional amount of $90,538.92 for this project is needed. The additional funds will be provided through the Hotel Excise Tax.

The City Commission approved a contract and execution of the contract documents to Firebrand Construction LLC for Attucks Park Improvements, in the amount of $267,699.72. This project is for the preparation of the Attucks Park site for a new restroom facility and the removal and replacement of the concrete basketball court, basketball goals, and surfacing and striping of the new court. The project includes new water, sewer and electric service lines to the new restroom and 675 square yards of 5.5-inch concrete pavement for new basketball court, as well as new sidewalk between the new restroom and basketball court. The CXT restroom will be ordered, by the City, separate from this contract. Advertisement for this project began on June 15, 2023. The Notice to Bidders was published in the Ponca City News on June 15, 2023 and June 22, 2023. Invitations to bid were sent directly to 12 potential contractors, 2 plan rooms, Pioneer Technology, 4 minority Chamber of Commerce organizations, the minority-owned business contact at Oklahoma Department of Commerce and the women-owned business contact at the Oklahoma Department of Commerce. A mandatory pre-bid meeting was held on Thursday, June 29, 2023 with six contractors attending. The bid opening was held on Thursday, July 13, 2023. Two bids were opened and read. Staff recommended awarding the lowest most responsible bid from Firebrand Construction LLC in the total amount of $267,699.72. Funding sources for this project include CDBG Grant, the City of Ponca City Public Recreation Improvement Fund, and Development Services CDBG Match.

The City Commission approved the purchase of a CXT Ozark I restroom through the Sourcewell Cooperative Purchasing Program for the Attucks Park Project in the amount of $104,464.00. This project includes the installation of a new precast concrete restroom at Attucks Park. This new restroom facility will be similar in appearance to the restroom facilities installed at the Lake Ponca Deep Water Ramp, the Lake Ponca Campgrounds, as well as the Lake Ponca Duck Pond Recreation Area. This project is being funded out of Contract 18609 CDBG 22. The City of Ponca City received two quotes for the Ozark I restroom: Sourcewell Contract #081721-CXT for $104,464.00 and TIPS Contract #21020201 for $104,464.00. CXT and the City of Ponca City are both part of Sourcewell Cooperative Purchasing Program, and the City has purchased other precast restroom facilities utilizing the Sourcewell Cooperative and has been very happy with the products and service. Due to the City’s prior working relationship with Sourcewell, staff recommended approval of Sourcewell Contract #081721-CXT.

Fence Replacement Project

The City Commission approved a contract for the replacement of the Ponca City Motocross and Public Works Fence Replacement Project, No. ARPA 10, with Stuever Dirtworks, LLC in the amount of $130,312.32. The City Commission passed a resolution at the April 10, 2023 commission meeting outlining the expenditure of the coronavirus local fiscal recovery funds for non-entitlement units of government (ARPA funds) in the amount of $2,177,026.52. One of the programs identified for funding in the resolution was the Ponca City Motocross and Public Works Fence Replacement in the amount of $150,000.00. This project will replace the entire fence around the Ponca City Motocross track and the north and west fence around the Public Works Facility and Recycling Center. Bids were opened on July 20, 2023 with two bids. Staff recommended awarding the contract to Stuever Dirtworks, LLC as the lowest most responsible bidder.


PCUA Consent Agenda

The PCUA Trustees approved the minutes of the PCUA regular session held July 10, 2023, a resolution appropriating money for the payment of claims against the PCUA, and a resolution of the PCUA amending the operating budget of various PCUA funds for Fiscal Year 2023-24.

PCUA New Business

Tree and Brush Trimming

The PCUA Trustees approved a contract award with Davey Tree Surgery Co. for Tree and Brush Trimming of Areas 16, 18, 20 and 22, in the amount of $628,557.74 and a contract award with Asplundh Tree Expert Co. for hourly tree and brush trimming.

Ponca City Energy has divided the distribution system into 22 geographical tree trimming areas and has established a four-year trim cycle for the system. The contract for area trimming requires results before payment instead of paying the contractor hourly. The contractor is paid an additional amount for removing trees, but must seek permission to totally remove problem trees instead of simply trimming them. A single hourly crew is still maintained, year-round. This crew performs work orders and assists the line crews when necessary. They may also do clearance trimming in selected areas to help complete the four-year cycle. Six areas were selected for trimming bids. Bids were opened June 29, 2023. Two contractors responded with proposals. The two area bids and two hourly bids were opened and read. After examining the bids, staff recommended awarding contracts for only 4 trimming areas. Staff recommended that Davey Tree Surgery Co. be awarded the contract for tree and brush trimming in Areas 16, 18, 20, and 22 and that Asplundh be awarded the contract for hourly tree and brush trimming. Ponca City Energy’s budget includes funds for tree trimming service to reduce electrical hazard and improve system reliability.

Joe Street Drainage Improvements Project

The PCUA Trustees approved the award of the project and execution of the contract documents to Sober Brothers, Inc. for the Joe Street Drainage Improvements Project, Phase One, in the amount of $591,035.12. In 2009, the City prepared a Stormwater Master Plan to re-map the floodplains of Ponca City, identify problem drainage areas, and provide recommended actions to help mitigate those problems. The Master Plan identified the area north of Hartford Avenue along Joe Street up to Young Avenue as a problem area, where approximately 40 acres of drainage area converges on Young Avenue.

Several mitigation alternatives were considered for this area in the Stormwater Master Plan. The final recommended plan resulting from a conceptual design included three phases of recommended improvements:  Phase One, construct a detention pond with approximately 2.7 acre-feet of storage volume to collect drainage from Young Avenue and drain it into the existing storm sewer on Joe Street via an outlet structure that will control the flow leaving the pond; Phase Two, improve the storm sewer along Young Avenue to the north of the proposed detention pond; and Phase Three, improve the storm sewer along Joe Street and west along East Hartford Avenue. Staff determined that the Phase One and Phase Two projects were the most desirable to provide substantial drainage improvements for this area.

Due to the extremely high cost of Phase Three, only Phase One and Phase Two were bid together in June of 2022. At that time, all of the bids came in significantly over the engineers estimate. Staff’s recommendation at that time was to reject all bids, split the plans into the two separate phases and re-bid as separate projects. Advertisement for the Phase One project began June 14, 2023. A pre-bid meeting was held on June 27, 2023 with two contractors attending the meeting. The bid opening was held on Thursday, July 13, 2023. Two bids were opened and read. Staff recommended awarding the lowest most responsible bid from Sober Brothers, Inc. The entire project is funded by Stormwater Capital Outlay.

Lead and Copper Rule Project

The PCUA Trustees approved an agreement with FNI (Freese and Nichols) of Fort Worth, TX, to complete a Lead and Copper Rule Project, in the amount of $434,300.00. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has revised its Lead and Copper Rule, making several new requirements of all public water supplies in the US. Under this agreement, FNI will assist the City in completing the required inventory, sampling plan and replacement plan. The contractor will also aid the City in developing means for and communicating with the public, also a requirement, and in seeking future funding for replacement activities. The project will be complete before the EPA’s compliance deadline of October 16, 2024.



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