Shawnee City Commissioners spent much of Wednesday gathered at the Heart of Oklahoma Exposition Center to share dialogue at length about various topics — something the board doesn't have the luxury of doing during regular meetings.

Shawnee City Commissioners spent much of Wednesday gathered at the Heart of Oklahoma Exposition Center to share dialogue at length about various topics — something the board doesn't have the luxury of doing during regular meetings.

While the board routinely uses such workshops to discuss, in general, many matters within city government — no action is taken during these more casual gatherings.

The board — minus City Commissioner Ben Salter, who reportedly was ill — and department heads and city leaders dealt with topics such as the city's Comprehensive Plan, Phase 2 of Kickapoo Street construction, the city's website redesign, the Heart of Oklahoma Exposition Center Master Plan and the upcoming citywide street assessment.

The group also listened to an update about Fire Station No. 2 progress from Fire Chief Dru Tischer, as well as a presentation about planned water and wastewater improvements for Shawnee's long-outdated system.

Discussions included mapping out where city leaders hope to push the community on quality-of-life issues as well as how much funding would be needed — and where it would come from — to achieve certain goals.

City staff has been charged with gathering information on what some wish list priorities might be and options for funding them — such as a sales tax increase.

Comprehensive Plan

City Manager Justin Erickson said the city received about eight quality submittals for the Comprehensive Plan update.

“We narrowed that down to four,” he said. “We hope to have a contract and a city recommendation at the first or second City Commission meeting in February.”

Kickapoo Street Phase 2

Erickson said surveyors have been out recently.

“We are at a point now where ODOT hopes to give us the right-of-way plans within the next couple months,” he said, “which will allow the city to acquire the right-of-way.”

The project funding for this is coming entirely from ODOT, Erickson said.

“Our portion is we have to pay for right-of-way and more easements and get utilities moved, and a water line is on us, as well,” he said.

By March or April, Erickson said the city may be in full gear for acquiring the right-of-way, which will put the city on track for ODOT to bid the project in roughly about a year's time, or so.

City website redesign

Erickson said he hopes in the next couple weeks the city will be able to roll out the redesigned website.

“The company is transitioning the site, as we speak, and will basically hand it over to us for final edits before we go live,” he said.

Erickson said he expects the site to be up and running in about the next 30 days.

“The new website will continue our efforts at rebranding and city pride,” he said. “It will be a much better mechanism for us to engage with the community.”

Expo Master Plan

The Expo Master plan has been going on for the past few months, Erickson said.

“The Expo Board has been actively involved,” he said.

“We are at a point now where we can review a final draft and the board will be doing that at the next February (City Commission) meeting.”

He said City Commissioners will be looking at the facilities and assess what needs to be done longterm to make sure the expo continues to be a valuable asset for the community.

Erickson said the consultant was given direction by the board to focus on taking care of the current facilities before building new ones.

“Let's take care of what we have before we look at a bunch of new facilities,” he said. “That's really the focus — looking at replacing some roofs and upgrades.”

He said there are areas where new facilities are needed, but the main focus is on enhancing what the site already has before looking at new structures.

Citywide street assessment

At the last City Commission meeting the board approved a contract for a citywide street assessment.

“It's going to be about a six-month process,” Erickson said. “Hopefully around July 1 we can get a good update with those results.”

A follow-up workshop for the group is tentatively set for March 1.

Watch for more on Fire Station No. 2 progress and where project managers are on assessing ideas for water and wastewater improvements.