Wednesday, March 10, 2021

Commissioners Discuss New Sign Ordinance, Sports Complex Improvements

The Board of City Commissioners took a hard look at Sallisaw’s sign ordinance at their monthly meeting Monday, where they heard from city staff on proposed changes.

City Manager Keith Skelton said the last time the rules were seriously scrutinized was in October 2020, and asked the commissioners for their feedback as city staff tackles the task of rewriting the ordinance.

Skelton stressed that the ordinance, which may require business owners and residents to purchase permits to post signs, is not meant to cause a hardship on city residents, but to ensure that “we have an ordinance that is usable and good for the community. That’s always been our plan.”

Skelton said his idea was for the ordinance to give the city enforcement capability on signs that have caused issues in the past, such as dilapidated billboards or other troublesome signs.

Mayor Ernie Martens said the biggest difficulty facing the city is signs such as those for garage sales that are placed in rights-of-way. He said he was also concerned about the waving, blow-up signs that can obstruct the view of traffic.

Martens urged city staff to ensure that the wording is perfectly clear on where rights-of-way lie and where garage sale and similar signs are to be placed so residents know the rules. City Clerk Dianna Davis suggested the city issue a flier listing the rules to better spread awareness.

Commissioner Philip Gay stressed the importance of discussing the proposed ordinance with business owners to get their input as well. Martens agreed.

The commissioners also discussed last month’s proposal by city staff for improvements to the city’s Sports Complex, which would be funded by a 1/2-cent sales tax.

There are two main projects under consideration: a swim complex and a covered arena. Martens said the city is focusing on the two projects to “make sure we have things in Sallisaw for our kids.” He noted that the arena would provide “unlimited potential opportunities” for events such as rodeos, car shows, flea markets, Diamond Daze and more.

Skelton said the swim center is already in the concept stage and has a working budget of about $3 million. The arena has no working budget at the moment and the next step is for an architect to do a concept study for an estimated cost and design.

Before the meeting began, Martens welcomed several 10th-graders who are part of a leadership class sponsored by the Sallisaw Chamber of Commerce. He lauded Leadership Sallisaw facilitator Nan Stites and Chamber Executive Director Marty Green for putting the group together and giving the students the opportunity to learn about the intricacies of city government.

Also during the meeting, the commissioners acknowledged the official results of the Feb. 9 election and unanimously approved a resolution authorizing the city’s participation in the Oklahoma Municipal Assurance Group (OMAG).

Skelton also announced that a new aerial truck is now in service at the Sallisaw Fire Department. He said the city got the truck on a bid of $30,000. Brand-new, the truck would have cost $1.2 million, he said.

Laura Brown, KXMX Staff Writer

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