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Proposed jail sites create concern

Former councilman believes proposal could draw attention to needs in east metro

By Jeff Harrison
Midwest City Beacon

The possibility of the new Oklahoma County Jail being built near Midwest City and Tinker Air Force Base is not sitting well with community leaders and residents.

The Oklahoma County Board of Commissioners recently narrowed down the list of potential sites for the new jail to six.

The list includes two potential sites located near Midwest City and Tinker.

One is a 45-acre property between Douglas Blvd. and Post Rd., on the south side of I-40. Another potential site is a 53-acre parcel near S. Post Rd. and SE 74th St. The I-40 location is owned by developer and former Midwest City Councilmember Jeff Moore. TJK Investments LLC owns the other site.

District One Commissioner Carrie Blumert said she has heard from many people who are worried about the potential locations. Blumert’s district includes Midwest City, but both sites are located in District 2 which is represented by Brian Maughn.

“My office has received many concerned calls and messages from Midwest City constituents and leaders about potential locations for the new county jail near Midwest City and Tinker Air Force Base,” Blumert said. “We are taking these concerns seriously.”

Midwest City Chamber of Commerce president Shaina Bennett said the organization shares concerns about the potential impact a jail would have on the area.

“The Midwest City Chamber of Commerce has expressed our concerns and opposition to the County Commissioners office in regard to the 2 prospective jail locations in Southeast Oklahoma County,” Bennett said. “While neither location is within Midwest City city limits, we believe either site will be detrimental to our residents and business community.”

Mid-Del Schools Superintendent Rick Cobb said he is uneasy about the negative impact a jail would have on the local schools as well as potential growth of the base.

“I am quite concerned about these possible locations. The location on Post is close to Barnes Elementary and would sit in an area of the district that is seeing significant growth. The location on Douglas is close to several schools and adjacent to the Air Force Base. I would think this would cause some issues with them as well. We always want to be poised as a community for base expansion, and this could be a barrier to that.”

The Midwest City City Council this week presented a resolution opposing the I-40 and Douglas Blvd. site. The resolution says that a jail would clash with planning and zoning for the area as well as protections against development around the base. They also said it could be detrimental to local schools and the new Multi-Athletic Complex facility located on the north side of I-40.

Moore said he hasn’t received much feedback from the public about his proposed site for the jail but understands why residents would be nervous about it. He said his entire family lives within five miles of the area and has several future developments that could be impacted by the decision.

“I feel like I have a rather large stake in the area and if this site were to be chosen, I would be OK with it,” he said. “It’s not my decision, I just offered the site, I have confidence in the decision makers that the best site will be selected.”

Moore purchased the property in 1994 as an investment. He believes development of the area was destroyed by the City of Midwest City’s decision to purchase 90 acres on the south side of SE 29th St. between Douglas Blvd. and Post Rd. to only block Walmart from coming into the area. The city opened the MAC facility in April 2022 on part of that property, which is in the city limits of Oklahoma City.

“I feel that this not only hurt the entire east side of town but also hurt the school system because city property does not generate any revenue,” Moore said. “Looking back the city should have purchased the mall on Air Depot the first time it hit the market rather than hurting the growth on the east side of town. The city could have done a lot with the mall back then.”

When officials with Oklahoma County asked for proposals for the new county jail, Moore decided to offer the 45-acre property. He said he’s uncertain about the viability of the property for a future jail but says that Tinker and county leaders will make that determination.

“I don’t know, and I’m not qualified to know whether this is a good and qualified site for the jail, but I do know the area is long overdue for some improvements,” he said. “There’s enough land near this location that the county, Tinker and Oklahoma City could work together on a mutual deal.”

If the property is not selected for a new jail, Moore said he hopes it will spark cooperation between Oklahoma City, Midwest City and Oklahoma County to improve the area. Moore also wishes the East area residents would push for some growth so they can get some nice amenities rather than just try to keep it the way it is which only hurts the area.

“The sad part is, this area has been neglected and overlooked long enough,” he said. “Anyone that drives down SE 29th St. realizes that it’s unsightly and not desirable for Midwest City, Tinker or Oklahoma City. I would just like to see this area improved.  I do feel that no matter what goes in there some good things will spin off it.  I also have confidence in the system that the new jail will be able to be managed much better no matter where it goes.”

Voters last year approved a $260 million bond package to build a new jail. The county commissioners and architects will continue evaluating the six remaining sites, including the current location at 2001 N. Shartel Ave. in Oklahoma City. The current jail is a 13-story facility and county leaders are leaning towards a new jail that would be shorter and built on a larger property.

The remaining sites for consideration include:
• 71 acres of land located at 1901 E. Grand Boulevard and offered for sale by Willowbrook Investments LLC and Garrett & Company Resources LLC.
• 53 acres of land located at 6945 S. Post Road, near Post Road and SE 74th Street and offered for sale by TJK investments LLC.
• 45 acres of land located on the south side of I-40 ¼ mile east of Douglas Boulevard and offered for sale by Moore Real Estate Development LLC, Jeff Moore, Owner.
• Up to 160 acres of land located at 5201 South Meridian Avenue and offered for sale by the Oklahoma City Airport Trust.
• Up to 192 Acres of land located between south Newcastle Road and SW 54th St.
• Existing jail site located at 201 N. Shartel Avenue, Oklahoma City, OK 73102.

County leaders are hoping to have a recommendation for a preferred site by November.


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