Council directs staff to develop possible actions in wake of Pride
The City Council voted 4-1 Tuesday to direct City staff to develop potential actions that could result in one or more municipal ordinances regulating “adult entertainment” in public spaces.
The vote followed months of debate between citizens over a Pride event that included a drag show, sponsored by Oklahomans for Equality-Bartlesville, in Unity Square Park on Sept. 10.
During the council’s October 2022 meeting, a local resident presented a petition, generated online, with 2,000 (non-verified) signatures requesting the council take action, stating, in part, “to determine if this activity violated any state laws, city ordinances, or city contracts for use of public areas and if so, to take appropriate action. If no laws or ordinances were broken, and no current contracts violated, then I ask you to study this issue and consider a new city ordinance to prohibit adult-oriented activity from happening in our public areas again.”
Hundreds of people have attended council meetings since October regarding the matter. (To hear what citizens said during those meetings, see the “Citizens to be Heard” portions of the October and November 2022 and January 2023 meetings on the City’s webcast.) City staff has spent the past several months attempting to negotiate an agreement between the parties, but those negotiations broke down last month after the petitioner withdrew from discussions.
With an agreement no longer possible, City Manager Mike Bailey on Tuesday requested the council advise staff in how it would like to proceed, which was followed by a discussion amongst council members.
Ward 5 representative Trevor Dorsey made a motion to authorize City Attorney Jess Kane to obtain outside counsel with expertise in constitutional law to assist with drafting options for possible municipal ordinances that may be both “content neutral,” or which apply to everyone rather than a specific individual or group, and which seek to define and regulate “obscenity” in Bartlesville. The motion also directs City staff to draft a resolution for possible council approval to request that the Oklahoma Legislature review adult entertainment in public places and provide direction, if applicable.
Following a lengthy discussion, Vice Mayor Jim Curd seconded Dorsey’s motion, which drew “Yes” votes from Mayor Dale Copeland, Curd, Dorsey, and Ward 4 representative Billie Roane. Ward 2 representative Loren Roszel voted “No.”
Dorsey indicated he expects Kane will work with council members in developing a potential ordinance and that “at least 120 days” should be allotted to the effort before the matter is reviewed again by the council.
In other business, the council also took the following actions:
BPD mental health program
The council voted 5-0 to approve a Memorandum of Understanding between Grand Mental Health and the City of Bartlesville to create a Crisis Intervention Response Team Program.
The program, approved during the budget process for Fiscal Year 2022-23, provides two mental health case managers and two police officers to be paired as mental health co-response teams. Two police officer positions were approved during the current fiscal year budget in anticipation of the program, which also obligates the City to provide funds to Grand Mental Health for the two mental health case workers in the total amount of $100,000 per year.
The mental health positions will be filled by Officers Sierra Compton and Maggie Morales-Blevins. Compton and Blevins will work in teams with Grand Mental Health Case Managers Cori Bryson and Allison Klasna. The program went into effect today.
Robinwood Soccer Field Lighting
The council voted 5-0 to approve a change order in the amount of $13,000 for Robinwood Soccer Field Lighting Project. The project involves installing MUSCO field lighting on the south three soccer fields at Robinwood Park, located at 2200 S.E. Frank Phillips Blvd. The change order was requested to accommodate changes in the location of the lighting control box.
Voters approved $350,000 for the project in the 2020 General Obligation Bond Election, the bid for which came in $67,000 higher than budgeted. A contract was awarded to Electrical Express for $417,000 by the council on Nov. 7, 2022.
“The contract was awarded with the understanding that the budget deficit would be covered utilizing 2022 G.O. Bond funds from park projects that have not yet been designed and bid along with unallocated 2022 GO Bond funds,” said Director of Engineering Micah Siemers. “There is currently $65,125 in unallocated 2022 GO Bond funds available. There is also a discretionary 2022 GO Bond project for a berm and fence along the west edge of Civitan Park that has a budget of $50,000. A portion of that project budget and the unallocated funds will be used to cover the original contract budget shortfall along with Change Order No. 1, leaving $35,125 for the Civitan Park project.”
First Christian Church
The council voted 5-0 to establish a fee structure for the First Christian Church Building and authorization for the city manager and/or chief financial officer to draft and execute rental agreements of the premises.
The City took over maintenance and responsibility for the building last year after the council voted to enter an agreement for the building, providing that it will be donated to the City pending voter approval in the future to renovate the structure.
Currently, the building is costing taxpayers $1,500 to $2,000 to maintain. To help offset these costs, City staff requested the council consider approving a fee structure to allow for leasing the building to interested parties. The council voted to approve the structure on Tuesday: $45 per hour for the Fellowship Hall and Sanctuary, $30 per hour for remaining areas more than 500 square feet, and $20 per hour for areas 500 square feet and fewer. For areas rented for exclusive 24-hour use (storage, office use, etc.) the rate of $4 per square foot with a minimum 30-day agreement will apply.