The Woodward News

Local News

January 24, 2013

City approves neighborhood program

Woodward, Okla. — Woodward's city commission took steps to establish a Woodward Neighborhood Initiative Program at its regular meeting Tuesday night.

City Manager Alan Riffel explained the program would be to assist individuals who find themselves unable to take care of their property for certain reasons, whether it be a disability, financial hardship, military leave or others. An individual would be able to go to the Parks and Recreation board to request volunteers to aid them in cleaning up their property.

"I think is a good idea. I think individuals would benefit from a place where they could go to seek help with what they need to do and how to do that exactly," Riffel said.  "Sometimes I think there can be some confusion as to what exactly they need to clean up, so I think this would be an asset for the City of Woodward to get it cleaned up and for the individuals to avoid expensive monetary fines."

Commissioner Steve Bogdahn pointed out that while people were making efforts to clean up their property, fines against them would cease.

The board also considered and approved an amendment to the contract with the Municipal Authority and Woodward Industrial Foundation.

Industrial foundation representative Alan Case II explained, "Ultimately what this new contract does is provide new clarity and cleans up the contract which is something thats needed done for some time.

"If you look into the things the Industrial Foundation needs to be doing to operate as a nonprofit body, the things are delineated out pretty clearly, and we found early last year our contract didn't specify 100 percent clearly the exact things we were providing for the City, nor did it delineate out the things we would not be providing. So as a matter of clarity with the contract and good faith between us and the City, we'd like to amend the contract so that moving forward our duties are more clearly spelled out for anyone to look at and you can readily see what we do and do not do on behalf of the City."

Case also noted that the financial agreement with the City would not be changed and that funds previously paid to the Foundation by the City for their services have now been put into one large pool instead of separated out into two bunches as done in the past. The contract calls for the foundation to receive $32,000 a month from the City.

"Anyone whose looked at our financial statements and the audits we've had can tell over the last 15 years exactly the amount of income we get and that's not going to change, we would just like more clarity in the contract so anyone interested can see more clearly exactly what our relationship with the City is," Case said.

As an example, Case said, "There are a few things we do as a foundation where it could be misconstrued as managing City property, and that's something we don't want to do. Although we're not in the business of managing City property, we're certainly in the business of bringing new industry to town, and if such time whoever the tenant is that pays rent to you decides to leave town, we're the primary point group that tries to fill that vacancy and provide additional jobs or replace those lost."

Case said it was never intended for the foundation to manage any City property.

"We have several of our own properties which we'll manage, we just don't want to control or for it to seem that we have control city property," Case said.

Local citizen Steve Snider requested to see the amendments. Snider said he was concerned that the duties of the industrial foundation might be lessened while the finances remained the same.

Industrial Foundation Attorney Cody Hodgden addressed the contract changes.

 "There are a lot of changes in clarity and intent, the old contract suggests the foundation has discretion over city property and the foundation has never exercised discretion over city property independent of obtaining approval from the city. It clarifies the Foundation and the city are in a contract relationship, the city has no control over the Foundation and the Foundation is not an agent of the city, the foundation cannot act on behalf of the city," Hodgden said.

Currently, the industrial foundation is involved in a court case with district attorney's office over whether it falls under these state's open meeting law. District Attorney Hollis Thorp ruled in September that the foundation was a public body and must hold open meetings. The foundation's position is that it is a contractor with the city and not subject to the open meeting act. The case is scheduled for a non-jury trial before an Enid judge in February.

After the discussion, the commissioners unanimously approved the amended contract.

The City also approved a contract agreement  for retail development consulting services between the City of Woodward and Retail Attractions, LLC.

 "The firmament we're contracting with upon approval has a strong track record of success in Oklahoma, we've had numerous conversations with them over the years," Riffel said.  "I think since we don't have a full time economic developer on staff, I think the city is due, and this is a tremendous alternative to that option, and a cost effective one at that."

Bogdahn added, "Their primary purpose would be to go out and find retail businesses, such as chain type retail, wether that be a Target or a Lowes or somethings of that nature."

Riffel said the City would pay the Retail Attractions LLC $800 a month, and in the event that they are successful in bringing a company to town, they will receive a one time bonus of 40 cents per square foot of the company. The city manager said the effectiveness of Retail Attractions would be under ongoing evaluation.

The board approved approved a 1 year contract with the group.

During the audience participation section, Snider addressed the board, talking about the disposal of black top milling from the West Woodward Airport. Snider said the disposal might have been done in violation of the City of Woodward's policy and he requested that a future agenda item be created for discussion of the milling as well as the policy.

Earlier in the meeting, the city approved a bid with a Melendez Paint and Sand Blasting of $46,650 for siding repairs at Crystal Beach Park.

Riffel said since the repair was due to a material failure and the siding was still under warranty, the City had received warranty reimbursement as well as materials.

In his city manager's report, Riffel said the Woodward Fire Department had three positions open, two of which have potentially been filled by individuals who had taken and passed the agility test, and a third position that will be tested for in February.

Riffel also noted that a malfunctioning airport beacon has been fixed and is fully functional, a drainage ditch between the Conference Center and NWOSU would be completed this week, and that the removal of a $5 dollar permit to fish for trout at Crystal Beach Lake had been astounding in regards to the level of activity at the lake. Riffel said one Sunday there were 29 fisherman at the lake.

"It's currently well stocked and providing the city with an important recreational service," said Riffel.

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