Upgrades for swimming pools and renovations that would turn a one-time military facility into use by the arts community will be decided today by the City Council.
Some proposals are intended to get swimming facilities into shape for city youth by summer; others are long-term plans to restore or upgrade existing facilities with long ties to Lawton.
Two of those long-term proposals would be assigned to long-time contractor C.H. Guernsey: schematics and report on renovating the National Guard Armory in Elmer Thomas Park for new use and restoring the historic Carnegie Library Town Hall in downtown Lawton. Both actions date to a decision the council made in February 2023: transferring custodial care of the two buildings to the McMahon Auditorium Trust Authority, then allocating funding for repairs.
Members of the trust authority said the goal was to preserve two historic buildings: Carnegie Library Town Hall, built in 1922 as part of a nationwide effort by Andrew Carnegie; and the armory, built on land the City of Lawton purchased from the federal government in 1951, then deeded to the National Guard (the National Guard later deeded the building back to the city).
Trust Authority Chair Max Sasseen said then the trust authority’s goal was to care for the buildings, including making repairs. He described the condition of both as “deplorable,” with a leaking roof in the armory and extensive damage inside Carnegie Library caused by a leaking roof and windows.
“We’re just trying to stop the descent,” Sasseen said, adding the community would get behind the effort “if we have a plan.”
That plan could begin, courtesy of contracts the council will consider today with C.H. Guernsey.
The proposals specify a $24,256 contract to evaluate the armory, along with pre-planning to turn the building into a community theater. The contract calls for a schematic design concept floor plan, to include an east wing that would support office space for seven art groups and a large conference space; and the west dome area that would offer flexible seating, updated parking and entry plaza, along with evaluation of a flexible stage layout and overhead system to support lighting and rigging.
Plans at Carnegie Library are simpler: evaluation and pre-planning for restoration and repair. That $18,648 would define the effort to restore a building that served as the city library until the mid-1970s, and one that also is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Council members also will look at proposals to hire GH2 Architects LLC to do schematic designs for upgrades in Eastside and Lee West parks, as well as the city’s wading and swimming pools.
The $45,400 project in Eastside and Lee West parks will include plans for a new splash pad in each location, plus restrooms and parking. A report, to be provided within 45 days of the notice to proceed, stems from a council directive earlier this month to continue with a plan it announced last year: build new splash pads at three parks.
The firm will charge another $32,700 for schematics for improvements to south Lawton’s Mattie Beal Park, to include an overall site survey due in 90 days. The park houses several amenities, including the municipal swimming pool on its west boundary, and city officials have said the idea is to create a master plan for the park. That work will include working with an aquatics consultant to evaluate pool conditions and provide recommendations for repairs. Architects also are to review flood plain and site drainage issues, then make recommendations so conceptual designs and cost estimates can be developed.
Another $28,800 is linked to a schematic report on improvements to wading pools in 35th Division, Mocine and Harmon parks, which council members have said will open Memorial Day Weekend. The future is less certain for the swimming pool, with some council members questioning whether it is worth the cost to repair the deteriorating structure when the city could build new aquatic facilities.
Council members will receive an update on all aquatics facilities later in the meeting.