By Travis Sloat
Greg Armstrong of Holloway, Updike, & Bellen, Inc. presented the layout for the sports complex in Fort Gibson at the town’s Dec. 10 board meeting. The plans included optional items and a cost of around $720,000.
Fort Gibson received a donation from Jerry Whitlock of 10 acres of land 11 years ago for a softball complex to be built and named after Quincy Vaughn, a former employee of Whitlock Packaging.
The town sold the land, with Whitlock’s permission, and gained just more than $300,000 from the sale. That money gathered dust until two years ago when a letter from Whitlock asking for the money or the property back spurred the town into action.
On Monday night, after the plans were submitted, the board voted unanimously to start accepting bids for the project, on the condition of being able to pick and choose parts they wanted and parts they didn’t on grounds of practicality and cost.
Myra Cookson raised the concern of how the town was going to afford it.
“We don’t have this much money in the account,” she said.
Mayor Steven Hill allayed those concerns somewhat when he reiterated that they would just be taking bids, and would then decide what options they wanted at the complex.
One of those options was a hatch, which is an opening of restricted size allowing for passage between two areas, that could be omitted at a savings of almost $75,000.
Another option is to sod the field, which Hill said would make it usable in a shorter amount of time.
“If we sod the fields, they’ll be able to use them faster,” Hill said. “If we don’t then they won’t be able to play on them until the following fall.”
The town released the official advertisement for the bid, which gives details to those looking into the job. The town is accepting bids until Jan. 18.
An item of increased debate arose shortly after the voting to accept bids, and that was what the town will name the complex.
Some board members thought it needed to be called the “Fort Gibson Sports Complex,” reflecting ownership of the town and ease of reference for visitors.
Hill pointed out Jerry Whitlock had given a sizable donation to the project, and suggested the name reflect that fact.
Brad Clinkenbeard then offered a momentary stopgap measure.
“It doesn’t have to be named today,” he said.
Other items at the meeting were tabled until later dates.