The Heart of Oklahoma Exposition Center continues to stay on the minds of city leaders as they consider how to boost the local economic driver to the next level.

The Heart of Oklahoma Exposition Center continues to stay on the minds of city leaders as they consider how to boost the local economic driver to the next level.

Shawnee City Commissioners spent Thursday afternoon gathered at the Expo to share dialogue at length about the expo and other 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, department heads and city leaders assessed options to improve the expo, heard a presentation about storm shelters and discussed capital projects.

City Manager Justin Erickson and City Commissioners have been looking at the expo facilities to assess what needs to be done longterm to make sure it 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.

With that in mind, Charlie Kolarik, associate principal architect at the consulting firm Populous, evaluated the grounds and Thursday shared his assessment with the board.

Issues like concessions areas, restrooms and roofing topped the list of priorities.

Kolarik said though the expo currently has enough arena space for bigger shows, it may be a bit light on stall capacity. His suggestion was to expand the north end of the west building to make room for up to 156 more indoor stalls, as well as flooring the extension with asphalt also to be more accommodating for various events that could be housed there.

The expansion would force the relocation of two maintenance buildings on that northwest end of the complex — a move that is just as well, Kolarik said.

“Building one or two sheds east of the RV parking lot will not only get them out of high-traffic areas, but allows for more space, as well,” he said.

Roofing and insulation replacement are probably the biggest priority, according to Kolarik.

If the roofs decline, so will all the rest, he said.

“The existing roof panels are an exposed fastener r-panel system prone to significant leaks as the rubber gaskets of the exposed metal screws fail over time,” he said. “A standing seam roofing system will have no exposed fasteners and is installed with no penetrations through the roof.”

There are some options for replacing insulation.

He said there are systems that use very durable fabric liners held in place by a grid of galvanized painted metal straps, which are durable enough to withstand attempts by birds or pests from tearing or nesting in them.

Renovating the concessions areas and restrooms, as well as repositioning the show office and some doors between buildings, would provide a much more user-friendly experience throughout, he said.

Facade treatments at the main entrance and the west side of the complex are also on the list to make the grounds more aesthetically pleasing.

Kolarik's suggestions and ideas for improving the grounds are simply to gauge options — the city has made no decision to act on the evaluation. City Commissioners also are assessing possible funding options.

Watch for updates.