By Jeff Harrison
Midwest City Beacon
Mid-Del School District leaders again made their case against a potential site for the new Oklahoma County detention center.
Superintendent Rick Cobb and school board member Gina Standridge urged Oklahoma County Commissioners to remove a potential site at 1901 E. Grand Blvd. from consideration during the Dec. 20 meeting. The property is located about ½ mile from Crooked Oak Schools and one mile from Epperly Heights Elementary, 3805 Del Rd.
Oklahoma County is accepting proposals from property owners who are interested in selling their land to be used for a new county detention center. The list is updated as properties are added or removed.
It was the second straight week that Cobb and Standridge have voiced concerns about the site.
Cobb said he understands the difficult task at hand and knows there isn’t a perfect spot for a new jail. He said locations that are close to schools should not be considered.
“It is my belief that of all the boxes that have to be checked, some of them are larger than others,” he said. “Proximity to a school has to be one of the largest boxes, if not the largest box.”
Crooked Oak is located near SE 15th St. and Eastern Ave., but the school’s athletic facilities are just west of the Grand Blvd. property. The district is building a new football field and upgrading its softball field, which are near SE 22nd St. and Eastern Ave.
Cobb said students at Epperly Heights walk to and from school about a ½ mile from the proposed property.
“That’s a huge concern for me,” Cobb said.
Standridge said she grew up in Del City and worked in the school district for 32 years before being elected to the school board. She said the area has struggled for years and believes building a jail there will send the wrong message to residents.
“I’m asking you to take that Grand location off of that, simply because that community has struggled,” she said. “We have truly never recovered since the May 3rd tornadoes… I don’t want it to devastate our community further. I do want to protect our kids, those communities.”
Despite the pleas, the Oklahoma County Commissioners decided to keep the property on their list.
District One Commissioner Carrie Blumert said the property has remained on the list due to interest from the City of Oklahoma City, which expressed support in rezoning the land. Blumert said she agrees with concerns about the proximity to schools but would not pull it from the list.
“We’re not crazy about this site either, but that’s why it’s stayed on here,” she said. “I’m not making motion to remove it but tell you that it’s on here because it’s being promoted by the city of Oklahoma City. At this point in time, I’m not super excited about it because we understand your concerns.”
The Commissioners selected the property at S. Newcastle Rd. and SW 54th St., near Will Rogers World Airport, as the preferred location. The FAA has objected to the airport property due to potential loss in grants. Blumert said the property remains on the list because they have not received word from the Oklahoma City Airport Trust about their offer.
There are currently six sites under consideration for the new jail. A new location in Luther was added to the list on Wednesday. The following sites are still being considered.
- 1901 E. Grand Blvd. (near SE 15th and Grand)
- 17501 NE 150th (near Peebly Rd. and NE 150th St. in Luther)
- South Newcastle Rd. and SW 54th (near Will Rogers World Airport)
- I-40 and I-44 (near Stockyards)
- SE 29th west of the Kickapoo Turnpike
- 201 N. Shartel Ave. (current site of the county jail)