MuskogeePhoenix.com, Muskogee, OK

May 22, 2014

Grant brings bright future into focus


— It’s exciting to watch the dominos fall that some day — sooner than we imagined — will lead to a better Muskogee.

Our city has a bright future coming into focus, in part, because of events within the last couple of weeks.

The Action in Muskogee initiative highlighted a cultural arts district downtown.

One of the centerpieces would be a $6.5 million Muskogee Little Theatre.

The City of Muskogee Foundation awarded a $5.5 million grant to MLT officials, who must raise the final $1 million.

The project got a huge boost last week when the Oklahoma City-based Inasmuch Foundation awarded the MLT project a $100,000 grant.

MLT Executive Director Coni Wetz says the grant could lead to a ground-breaking “within the next six months.”

There is a need to move the Regional Juvenile Dentention Center from prime retail space on Shawnee Bypass.

County and city officials have targeted the land on which MLT now occupies.

Here are the dominos:

• A restaurant or retail stores can’t be built until the detention center is moved.

• The detention center can’t be built until MLT moves.

• MLT can’t move until officials secure enough money.

That $100,000 grant from the Inasmuch Foundation goes a long way to tip the first domino.

When MLT moves, the cultural district gains a major new tenant. And more sales tax revenue can be generated when a restaurant or retail store replaces the detention center.

It’s exciting to watch those dominos fall.

We can’t wait for the next to fall.