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Del City leaders provide update on fight against jail

People wait in line to speak during a town hall meeting at the Del City Community Center on March 26. Photo by Lea Terry

By Lea Terry
Midwest City Beacon

After months of fighting against the proposed location for the new Oklahoma County Detention Center, Del City residents packed the Del City Community Center March 26 for a town hall meeting.

Dozens of people, both Del City residents and those from surrounding communities including Forest Park and Oklahoma City, showed up to voice their opposition against the proposed location at 1901 E Grand Blvd.

City Manager J.D. Hock opened up the event and introduced the three lawyers the city will be working with: Billy White of White and Weddle; Blaine Nice with Fellers Snider; and Billy Wheeler from Mueller, Wheeler and Associates, Del City’s city attorney. Hock also noted that Oklahoma County is in the process of purchasing the property at 1901 E Grand, and the City of Oklahoma City Planning Commission must approve zoning changes.

“There’s a possibility that if the rezoning process stops there, and they have to look for another location,” Hock said.

Del City approved $150,000 to go toward a legal fight should Oklahoma County build the new jail at the Grand Blvd site, and at the town hall city officials reiterated that they are prepared to see that fight through.

Rep. Andy Fugate, House District 94, took to the podium to speak about what he called the most important issue facing Del City today.

“I want to talk to you tonight about what is a travesty,” Fugate said, adding that Oklahoma County Commissioners had several options for a new jail site, and had removed the 1901 E Grand site from consideration several times after residents spoke out against it.

“That time, they went behind closed doors, and they railroaded us,” Fugate said. “They sold us out, they lied to us.”

Del City Ward 3 Councilperson Claudia Browne also took to the floor, asking residents to continue reaching out to Oklahoma County Commissioners and the City of Oklahoma City

Planning Commission to help them understand why the jail should stay where it is.

“It doesn’t belong in my neighborhood, it doesn’t belong in Forest Park, it doesn’t belong off the eastside, it doesn’t belong in Choctaw, it doesn’t belong anywhere else but downtown,” Browne said.

Dozens of people lined up to speak, many of whom said they’d initially had no intention of addressing the crowd. However, many residents voiced concerns about everything from safety to property values to the destruction of the city’s 76-year history.

Chase Ragsdale, who moved to Del City in 2022, has prior experience living near a detention facility. He previously worked as a corrections officer for Pottawatomie County and lived in Shawnee.

“Having a corrections facility that’s not connected to the jail leads to nothing but all of those people who are released having to walk through people’s yards, driveways, homes, just to get back downtown to get to the courthouse,” Ragsdale said.

The City of Oklahoma City Planning Commission will discuss rezoning the 1901 E Grand Blvd location at its April 11 meeting, held at City Council Chambers, 200 N. Walker Ave, 3rd floor.

 

 

 

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