County Commissioners Choose Property Near Del City To Build Okla. County Jail

After months of consideration, Oklahoma County Commissioners finally picked a site for the new Oklahoma County Detention Center. However, commissioners had several properties on the list to consider, with strong opposition from those who live on the city’s east side.

Wednesday, February 21st 2024, 6:37 pm

By: News 9, Deanne Stein


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After months of consideration, Oklahoma County Commissioners finally picked a site for the new Oklahoma County Detention Center.

The property near Del City along East Grand Boulevard was chosen with a two-to-one vote. However, commissioners had several properties on the list to consider, with strong opposition from those who live on the city’s east side. Protestors marched from one of those sites at Northeast 23rd and Coltrane Road to the county courthouse Wednesday morning.

“Our ancestors did it, our ancestors marched,” said Councilwoman Nikki Nice, who participated in the march. “This is Black History Month, the folks that led the way for the civil rights movement that’s what they did, they marched and that’s how they took action."

Once protestors arrived at the courthouse, they joined a standing-room-only crowd of people who were against the jail being built in southeast and northeast Oklahoma City. Opposition to the proposed site at Northeast 23rd and Coltrane put the pressure on with commissioners quickly voting it off the list of potential jail sites. However, the public outcry didn’t end there, as nearly 40 people stood up against the site near Del City at 1901 East Grand Boulevard.

“They're picking on a poor community is what they're doing and they're dumping it,” said Jim Hightower, who lives in Del City. “We don't want our neighborhoods living next to a jail, we don't want our kids having to get up in the morning and walk to school and be afraid to walk to school.”

Related: Oklahoma County Commissioners Selected Future Jail Location

However, commissioners moved forward and voted to go with the site near Del City, to build the new county jail. Commissioners say the purchase price is $4 million with the option to negotiate. “Didn't you listen to the people, they're not listening to the people,” said Sandy Hightower who lives in Del City. “I've been here 7 times for the same property.”

The only no vote came from Commissioner Carrie Blumert, who has been adamant about not putting the jail in northeast OKC. “I'm really disappointed that our board didn't listen to them but I’m proud of them for coming as much as they did and really standing up for themselves,” Blumert said.

Commissioner Myles Davidson said the site at Grand Boulevard checked all the boxes that made the property the most viable location. “On our scorecard, it has the highest score it has had the highest score from the beginning,” Davidson said. “So, it's infrastructure, time to courthouse, people affected, things in the area. It's not an emotional decision for me it is one based on fact and that's what I had to look at this entire time.”

However, for those who live near the chosen site, it is emotional. “There's children, infants, daycares, the Reliant Health Center, I mean it's all right there, can't they see that,” said Sandy Hightower. “We're going to continue to fight.”

Many who spoke before the board asked for the location to remain at the jail’s current location in downtown Oklahoma City. However, all three commissioners said there are too many issues in doing that. “All three commissioners have agreed we are not going to build a high-rise jail, that has not worked for us, that is not what the current code and standard is,” said Blumert. “If we buy land around the existing jail and build out, we would be too close to schools.”

Davidson also said with the new jail site chosen, the board is working to address the community’s concerns. “Some of the stuff they've asked, transportation, we're solving those issues, security, security will no longer be an issue,” said Davidson. “And the service, we're actually going to have some of those services inside the jail, so they won't have to be transported to get. Before they ever get out, they'll be intervened, and those services are going to start at that moment.” 

The property at East Grand Boulevard still needs to go before the city for rezoning. Meanwhile, commissioners voted to investigate three other properties as a backup. Those include Townley Trust Land, I-240 Sunnylane, and Reno and Exchange.

The Del City City Manager released this statement in response to the decision:

"I am writing to you today to express our deep disappointment in the Oklahoma County Commissioner’s decision to select 1901 East Grand Boulevard as the future site of the new Oklahoma County Detention Center and their intention to proceed with the purchase of this site. The decision was made after the Executive Session at the Board of County Commissioners Meeting on 02/21/2024. As stated in my letter to the County Commissioners on 12/27/2023, as well as by the multitude of citizens, advocates, city staff, and our City Council that opposed this site at each of the OK County Commissioner Meetings, this location would be catastrophic to the City of Del City. We have exhausted our efforts to eliminate this site through the democratic process, and we are now forced to pursue legal action. During the Special Meeting of the City Council on 02/08/2024, our City Council unanimously passed a Resolution authorizing my office to seek out legal representation and dedicate city funding in the event that we must fight this battle in court. We have performed our due diligence and I will be presenting my recommendations to the City Council in the coming days. Please continue to follow our social media posts for the next Special Meeting of the City Council and the Call to Action for our citizens as we move into the next phase of our plans to stop this Detention Center from being placed within walking distance of our neighborhoods, parks, and schools. I want to thank each and every one of you that have attended County Commissioner Meetings, submitted public comments, and signed petitions to show your opposition of this location. The support we have received from our citizens, school district, and surrounding communities has united and unified us in the most positive ways. Know that your voices DO make a difference in our government and your City Council, city employees, and I will continue to fight for the best interest of our incredible city each and every day."
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