MuskogeePhoenix.com, Muskogee, OK

January 7, 2014

Center must relocate to boost economy


— Relocating the Muskogee County Regional Juvenile Detention Center is best for economic development in Muskogee.

The county-owned facility sits in the 600 block of West Shawnee Bypass in the middle of an area just ripe for development.

Within the past few years, the area has grown to include Walmart, Best Buy, Chili’s, Tractor Supply, Buffalo Wild Wings, the River City Plaza Shopping Center and most recently, Freddy’s.

That’s why it’s good to hear that the Muskogee County commissioners plan to step up efforts to find a site suitable for a new juvenile detention center.

Approval to move the facility came midway through 2012. Last August, efforts to move it stalled because of the price — an architect estimated it could cost up to $2.25 million to replace the 10-bed facility.

District 1 Commissioner Gene Wallace said he learned this past week about the increased interest among developers. At least two more developers have expressed an interest in the site, which adjoins other property urban renewal commissioners have identified for large-scale commercial development.

That should come as no surprise.

The center holds the spot of a potential sales tax-producing business.

Wallace said he believes it is important to “move this thing forward.”

“On behalf of our stakeholders (public schools and other entities that would benefit from increased ad valorem and sales tax revenue), we need to move ahead with this,” Wallace said.  

We agree. The detention center will keep the area from reaching its economic potential if it remains in place.

It also could have the effect of discouraging development along that side of Shawnee Bypass.

That’s why it is imperative that officials find a way for the move to happen.

Shawnee Bypass is a cornerstone of economic development for the city.

The juvenile detention facility discourages that development.