Tahlequah city councilors were told Tuesday night they’ll soon see the end of the $2 million NSU stadium renovation project.

Tim Foutch appeared before the council concerning a request to reimburse the university for expenses incurred in the west-side renovations. He also told councilors that at their next regular meeting, they will be given a detailed expenditure list for the project, and copies of the minutes of the last meeting of the Sales Tax Oversight Committee.

Foutch’s appearance before the council also prompted a stern warning from Ward 3 Councilor Gene Toney, who has told Foutch at previous meetings he wants to see handrails on the west side of the stadium. Toney said it’s extremely dangerous to climb the stadium steps without rails, and he believes Doc Wadley Stadium may be the only one in the state without rails.

“NSU will rue the day they didn’t put up rails if someone has an accident and falls,” Toney said.

Foutch said NSU is looking into ways to possibly add rails. He said at this time, it would involve widening the aisles and taking away seats. He said the university also has Americans with Disabilities Act requirements to consider now and when installing rails.

“It’s something we’ll take under advisement,” Foutch said.

Toney pointed out the east-side stands have rails.

Two companion items also met with council approval: a budget reallocation and a budget amendment to help meet the NSU expenses of a maximum of $16,000.

The council voted 3-1 to approve a $25,000 reallocation for carpeting in the meeting rooms and sod and irrigation at the Armory Municipal Center. Assistant City Administrator Kevin Smith said the funds were coming from the managerial department budget and not the city’s reserve. Mayor Ken Purdy said the city has spent an average of $30 per square foot to renovate the armory and give the city a useable building.

Ward 1 Councilor Jason Nichols voted against the reallocation. He said his vote was not against the project.

“I have no doubt it will be a wonderful facility and will serve some good purposes,” Nichols said when contacted at home after the meeting. “I think it should have been somewhere else on our priority list.”

He said the city has spent approximately $300,000 on the project this year with reallocations. That doesn’t include hidden costs from using city employees for some of the labor, expenses from accounts not specifically labeled for use at the armory, and others.

“I feel like someone needed to be a voice of reason about the costs,” he said. “When they mention it only costs $30 per square foot to make it usable by the city, it reminds me of the story of the man whose wife went shopping and spent $1,000, but told him not to worry, because the shoes were on sale.”

What’s next

The next regular meeting of the Tahlequah City Council will be at 7 p.m. Monday, Feb. 6 in the council chambers at City Hall.


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