The preserve at Hafer Park
Derek Smithee, president of the Edmond Land Conservancy, speaks to the Edmond City Council on Monday, March 27, 2023. (Screenshot)

During Monday night‘s meeting of the Edmond City Council, members heard a presentation about public land next to Hafer Park, expanded recycling services and amended how credit car processing fees are handled, among other actions.

Derek Smithee, chairman of the Edmond Land Conservancy, delivered a presentation regarding “The Preserve at Hafer Park,” otherwise known as the 22 acres that Edmondites voted to purchase with a temporary sales tax increase in October 2021. The land has been placed under a conservation easement.

Smithee lobbied for the council to place an additional five acres of city-owned property, which abuts the 22 acres to the north, under the easement as well.

“We are also proposing, that you have before you, that tract four and tract three be woven into the conservation easement and be dealt with as one unit — everything south of Spring Creek.” Smithee said. “That’s completely your decision. They’re both Edmond properties. All of these are Edmond properties today. It would just be how they are managed and whether they are put into conservation easement or not.”

The Parks and Recreation Board recommended that the council approve a memorandum of understanding between the city and ELC on March 23 with two “caveats,” Ryan Ochsner, the city’s director of community quality, told councilmembers:

  • Should ELC cease operations, the easement reverts to city property.
  • To not include additional city-owned property.

“I have not been able to identify a reason to recommend that [land] be included. I would recommend this evening, based on what I understand, that would not be included,” Ochsner said. “Certainly, we agree with the sentiment from a parks and recreation perspective. We see a need to program it and operate it very similar to that [land] that is under the easement.”

How should the remaining $1.6 million be spent?

Edmond voters, Hafer Park
A fishing pond at Hafer Park, located at 1034 S. Bryant Ave. in Edmond, is also home to various water fowl throughout the year. (Megan Prather)

Smithee also presented a department budget showing the remaining $1.6 million in funds from the temporary sales tax. The budget included money for amenities such as a pedestrian bridge, trails, an amphitheater and maintenance funds for the next decade.

The Edmond City Council voted to provide funds to acquire the land in November 2021, using $4.1 million borrowed from the city’s water resources department for the purchase. The water resources department has since been reimbursed by the collections from the approved 12-month, 0.25-cent sales tax increase, which generated about $5.7 million, and leaves $1.6 million in overage.

However, members of the City Council were unsure if the ballot question language committed the remaining $1.6 million to the nature park.

“I kind of feel like we need to decide on the conservation easement, but also decide whether we want to dedicate that $1.6 million from the overage (…) to this property,” Ward 2 Councilman Josh Moore said.

Ward 3 Councilwoman Christin Mugg pondered creating an endowment for the park with the overage.

“I think there’s definitely some discussion to be had about that overage amount and the best, most prudent, appropriate way to use it,” Mugg said.

The October 2021 ballot question states that the surplus proceeds of the tax “may be used for the early redemption of any payment obligations associated with the land acquisition project or to pay the cost of improving the land or providing other capital improvements.”

The easement document references the same language, stating “the voter approved proposition stated that surplus proceeds of the tax may be used ‘to pay the cost of improving the land or providing other capital improvements for the City.'”

The Edmond City Council did not take any action on the overage, as the agenda did not call for a vote.

Asked about the language of the easement document, Edmond City Attorney Stephen Murdock said the council will need to look it over.

“There may be certain details that we need to review as a council as a whole, and we will do that at a public meeting with public input,” Murdock said.

New contract adds glass to recyclables

The Edmond City Council unanimously approved a nearly $1.8 million recycling services contract Monday night with Republic Services, which added glass back into the list of recyclable materials.

Starting July 1, the city will pay $4.56 per month, per household, for the service. That marks an increase from $4.26 per month in the last contract. Each household currently pays the city $4 for the service, but there will likely be a household rate increase brought before council at a later date.

“We are absorbing the difference at this point because the contract has moved to the point of renewal,” Bobby Masterson, the city’s solid waste superintendent, said.

Masterson said the city recycled over 3,600 tons in the last year.

“In previous years when glass was accepted prior, our typical years were between 5,100 and 5,200 tons,” Masterson said. “So that’ll kind of give you an idea of how much glass is in the system that makes it through recycling.”

Credit card processing fees for public works purchases passed onto consumers

The council unanimously approved a decision to pass credit card processing fees onto customers who use their credit card or debit cards for purchases related to the building, planning and engineering departments, as well as the cemetery and city clerk’s office.

For Fiscal Year 2021-2022, the city absorbed $890,000 in credit card and debit card processing fees, said city finance director Kathy Panas.

The council also approved a rate change with Paymentus for non-utility payments, which reduces the per-transaction fee for automated clearing house payments from $1 per transaction to 20 cents per transaction, increases the maximum payment threshold from $4,500 per transaction to $100,000 per transaction, and increases the percentage charge from 2.5 percent to 3.5 percent.

For utility payments, the rate change reduces the per-transaction cost of ACH payments from $0.55 per-transaction to $0.20 per transaction, with all other fees unchanged (flat rate of $1.45 for each $400 charged on a credit/debit card). These processing fees on utility fees will not be passed on to customers.

EMSA appropriated $143,242 amid ‘shortfall’

Edmond EMSA
The Emergency Medical Services Authority’s Edmond deployment center is located at 3612 N. Kelly Ave. near Coffee Creek Road on the north side of town. (Joe Tomlinson)

The Edmond City Council approved a $143,242 supplemental appropriation to the Emergency Medical Services Authority to help cover a shortfall of nearly $1.2 million in EMSA’s western division.

The shortfall stemmed from an unexpected increase in volume of accidents in the western division. EMSA is requesting Oklahoma City foot $1,020,577 of the payment.

EMSA has not adequately met their required response times in three years, Edmond City Manager Scot Rigby said. If the Edmond City Council were to decline the payment, Rigby, who serves on the EMSA Board of Trustees, said the city would have to discuss their future membership with EMSA.

“My guess is, if we don’t approve this, then we better find another option come June,” Ward 1 Councilman David Chapman said.

Edmond Mayor Darrell Davis said the City Council needs to have that discussion.

“We probably need to have that level of conversation up here on the council on how to improve,” Davis said. “Yes, we are under contract, but they have not met (response times) in a number of years. We do know that there are other providers out there that are coming into our community.”

Starting April 10, 2nd Street and South Broadway resurfacing

Route 66
U.S. Route 66 and U.S. Route 77 intersect at South Broadway and East 2nd Street in downtown Edmond, Oklahoma. (Joe Tomlinson)

The Oklahoma Department of Transportation delivered a presentation on the upcoming resurfacing projects on East Second Street and South Broadway Avenue. The project is expected to start April 10, and construction will generally take place between 8 p.m. and 6 a.m.

ODOT holds jurisdiction over those roads, as those roads are actually state highways Route 66 and 77.

Trenton January, ODOT’s District 4 engineer, said the resurfacing project will start at Interstate 35 and Second Street, head west to South Broadway Avenue, then down South Broadway Avenue to Comfort Drive.

Council approves Liberty Park and Meadow Brook rezoning items

A rendering for a multi-use development from Halff Associates called “Liberty Park,” proposed to be northeast of Coffee Creek Road and Coltrane Road. (Halff Associates)

The Edmond City Council unanimously approved a mixed-use Planned Unit Development rezoning application for Liberty Park, an 86.3 acre property located northeast of West Coffee Creek Road and North Coltrane Road.

The proposal calls for 26,000 square feet of commercial retail, 106,000 square feet of residential units (14) above the retail space, and 159 residential units on the southern 28.74-acre tract. The northern 56.83 acres of the property are proposed to include 241 residential units of different types, accompanying a 37,000 square-foot commercial lot projected as a hotel/spa. This tract will also include a Tributary T.

The council also unanimously approved a PUD rezoning application for Meadow Brook, a townhome development on the north side of Covell Road and the west side of Midwest Boulevard. The design statement limits the number of units to 200, but the current design shows 169 units.

The developed portion of the property will consist of approximately 20 acres, while the other 55 acres is floodplain and unable to be developed.

To be enacted, the Liberty Park and Meadow Brook developments will need site plan approval from both the Planning Commission and City Council.