As Mall Tenants Leave, FISTA Needs $2mil From Your Lawton Roads Money
In the beginning, when the City of Lawton first started to talk about purchasing the Central Mall with a plan to make revenue through military contracts, it didn't exactly pass the sniff test.
As the city learned a valuable lesson in telling the people holding the pursestrings their plans when the masses revolted when they announced they'd be purchasing the Fairmont Creamery the day after the mayor and city council convinced people they would spend the votes tax revenues on city roads... So when they had the idea to buy the mall to occupy the space with government contract jobs, they asked forgiveness instead of permission.
While the public was not happy by and large with the cities banana in the tailpipe approach, the idea of restoring or transitioning the mall to a place full of people again was palatable in our own mouths... but how much was this going to cost?
In those early days, we were told the needs of the FISTA project at Lawton's Central Mall would be mostly met by the revenue the mall tenant agreements would provide. No harm, no foul.
In March of 2020, the global coronavirus pandemic hit America and things have steadily ebbed and flowed since then.
Since then, the forecast for how FISTA will be funded has changed quite a bit. As more and more tenants end their mall/tenant agreements and either close permanently or flee to greener pastures outside of those walls, it looks as if the plan of funding this project with rent and agreement revenues is not going to be enough, forcing FISTA to look for monies elsewhere.
There was talk of a pandemic stimulus possibly picking up that slack, the air fell silent on that. There seems to be plenty of grant money out there, or at least there was before the economic downturn. In the most recent development, FISTA has asked Lawton for a big chunk of the Capital Improvement Project money.
They're gonna need about $2million out of the new roads fund to start...
All of a sudden, if this math is correct, a quick in-and-out $14million project is risking becoming a $20million sinkhole.
There is a debate starting to take place now of whether the city should double-down on their investment and see it through no matter the cost, or perhaps they should shut the whole project down and quit while they've only lost $14-ish million... Once again, the two sides are only providing two outcomes, neither of which are ideal.
Why can't there be a third option? Instead of stealing money that could fix more of our roads for the elusive idea it "might" attract new jobs or take a huge loss that we all half-expected anyway, why isn't there a pause option?
As we roll through what is Pandemic: Part Three, we still have no idea where the world is going or what next week/month/quarter is going to look like. Why not just simply hold where we're at collectively on this FISTA project to see what the forecast becomes later downstream? After all, they're still trying to build a vision created before the virus happened.
Besides that, our roads are terrible. Unless we can drive through Sears, they shouldn't get our road money.
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