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  • Writer's pictureCourt Newkirk

Time To Hear Your Voice

I really don’t know how many times I’ve been asked: Besides mowing my lawn and picking up litter around my neighborhood, what else can I do to help our economic development effort?

I now have a really great answer! But first some quick background information. Okmulgee (City of) follows the National Building Codes as adopted by the State of Oklahoma. That is really great news because the National Building Codes are for everyone’s health and safety. But did you know that our building codes do not cover the architecture of the building from a beauty standpoint? Those are called “design and architectural codes or standards.” Okmulgee does not have any. At least we didn’t two weeks ago when I asked the City Manager.

We are all very interested in what is coming to Okmulgee. We know we have some new restaurants, a new medical clinic, and possibly a new four unit strip center with an anchor tenant. Under the current situation, all of these new buildings could be built out of the same prefab style as a barn. I love the fact that developers and business owners are looking hard at Okmulgee locations. But having US Highway 75 lined with prefab steel buildings is not the look I want for our main entrance into our City. If you were a national chain restaurant and you have a custom designed “look” for your stores, would you want to build next door to a barn with signs hung on the metal siding?

Design requirements can be quite simple and yet still yield a good looking building. We already have design standards for the Okmulgee Business Complex on north Wood Drive and we haven’t even got the streets paved yet.

So here is where you come in. This is something you as an individual citizen can make happen.

Pick up your phone and call the Mayor and every City Council member and ask that the City of Okmulgee write and put into our codes: Minimum Design Standards for Commercial Buildings.

Now you have a homework assignment for Economic Development where you can make a big difference.

As I said before, these “design standards” do not have to be complicated and they can be copied directly from another successful city. So if you ever wanted to make a difference, now is the time.

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