Grove city leaders took the first step towards bringing new retail into Grove with the potential sale of the Grove Civic Center.

The discussion, which took place during the Tuesday, Jan. 17, Grove City Council meeting, opened with Mayor Marty Follis providing details about the request from Concept Development, a Florida based company, before the council voted to enter into a Letter of Intent agreement.

“We are not bound by anything,” Follis said referring to the agreement, adding all event contracts which are in place up to 18-months will be honored, and if the sale should go through, Concept Development have agreed to not take possession of the Grove Civic Center until a suitable replacement is in place.

A Letter of Intent is nonbinding, and “sets forth the basis for proceedings” with the preparation of a formal sales contract for consideration and execution within 45 days of its signing.

Follis said details of the agreement include a $2 million offer for the Civic Center and surrounding property.

If the council moves forward with the sales contract, the city and Contract Development officials would have the next 180 days to undergo several real estate actions, including inspection of the property.

Some of the events previously held at the Grove Civic Center include music festivals, boat shows, scrapbooking events, church related family events, dog shows, garden shows, and women’s expos.

Follis explained to the standing-room only crowd, when city officials purchased the Civic Center in 1994, a contract clause stated the building could not be used as a wholesale club or a department store for 50 years.

Concept Development officials have an undisclosed retailer tenant for the building and have assured city leaders the new business would not violate the previous sale agreement, Follis said.

The potential purchase of the Civic Center comes, Follis said, as part of the work conducted by Retail Strategies.

Since 2014, city officials have worked with the Birmingham, Alabama-based company to find a way to promote economic development in Grove.

What's next

City Manager Bill Keefer said on Thursday there are “two possible location” for a new civic center.

Keefer declined to release any additional information about the prospects citing nothing is definitive about the possible locations.

“There are a lot of pros and lots of cons – and there might be other sites,” Keefer said.

A preliminary cost to repair the Civic Center is between $500,000 to $750,000, he said.

Christy Wright, Grove Rotary president, and co-chairman of the Grow with Grove Initiative, outlined the group’s support for the sale of the Grove Civic Center and its replacement.

“The greatest need we have right now is that our current civic center is in a state of disrepair and it does not show well in our community,” Wright said, adding that the Civic Center is in a "wonderful location: to bring a sales tax business to Grove,

Wright said the Grow with Grove group is looking at places for a potential new Civic Center, as well as working to establish a community foundation to provide a 501c3 organization to raise money for city projects.

Bob Plunk is chairman of the Grow with Grove subcommittee working to establish the foundation. He also spoke during the meeting, adding the potential sale will provide the city with a chance to move forward and continue to reach for its fullest potential.

Wright said Grow with Grove members are working to identify funding sources and potential grants to help the city with the cost of developing a new Civic Center, as well as potential locations for the facility. 

"There are many plots of land across the city which would be good locations for it," Wright said. "Obviously anything close to other city landmarks would be our first preference."

Other business

• Employee of the Quarter

In other business, city employee Bill Blair was honored with a certification of appreciation and plaque for Employee-of-the-Quarter.

 “He currently serves as inspector the Cherokee Grove Casino utility project and is known as the enforcer and will not let anyone take advantage him or GMSA,” Follis said during the presentation.

• Airport

The council approved an Engineering Services Agreement with Garver Engineers for hangar access taxiways at the Grove Regional Airport. The Hangar Access Taxilanes project is projected at $85,000 for design services and $728,100 for construction.

Lisa Jewett, airport manager told the council there is a waiting list at the airport.

“Sometimes a waiting list runs people off,” said Councilman Marty Dyer. “We should do anything we can do to make the airport more attractive.”

There are 87 planes on the field, with 69 airplanes based in Grove and a waiting list of 15, she said.

In addition to private aircraft, there are two Oklahoma Highway Patrol planes based at the airport.

Kelly Fincannon, with Garver Engineers, also touted how many anglers use the airport to fly-in to Grove for fishing tournaments.

“There is a growth in the industrial park and that can be tied to the airport,” said Councilman Ed Trumbull.

Other items approved by the council include:

• a resolution amending the 2016-17 fiscal year budget.

• a resolution to the Wolf Creek Park Facilities Policies and Procedures by adding an exception to private fishing events with less than 25 boats in connection to liability insurance policies.

• an agreement with Midwest Fish Tournament LLC for the Big Bass Bash set for June 10 and 11 at Wolf Creek Park.

• Field Use Agreements with Grand Lake Soccer, Grand Lake YMCA for soccer fields and flag football and Grove Sports, Inc. for softball and baseball.

• an agreement with Grand Gateway Economic Development Association for the REAP grant to be used for the Household Hazardous Waste and E–Waste program and the designation of City Manager Bill Keefer and City Treasurer Lisa Allred for the agreement.