, Muskogee, OK

October 6, 2012

Seek swift solution for MLK Center

— Public safety and community involvement must drive the search for a solution to a crumbling Martin Luther King Center.

The center has cracks in its concrete block walls caused by small foundation movements and heightened by earthquakes last year, according to an engineer’s report.

The Muskogee City Council agreed this week to look for both short- and long-term solutions.

The engineer’s report did not cite an immediate threat to public safety. The report did say the building needed repairs to increase its longevity and for long-term safety.

The city should move quickly, but prudently in resolving the issues.

Many times the required cost for repairs is considerably less than the cost of constructing a new building.

Therefore, the city must determine the bottom-line cost of repairs vs. the cost of a new building.

The council also should consider moving the center to another city-owned building.

That solution is not at the top of everyone’s list.

The MLK Center houses many useful programs and is a vital part of the community.

Some are reluctant to move the center from its well-established roots.

However, if there is a hint of a public safety issue in the future, the city must be prepared to act quickly to move the programs. The value of the center is not wrapped up in the  building, but in the programs and volunteers who man the building.

However, those who feel most strongly the center should not move could help fund the construction in a public-private commitment.

Our city needs the center and the center needs the city’s help to find a solution.