Durant is growing at a record pace.
Commercial business, as well as residential housing is seeing an unprecedented boom.
What started off as a little village in Indian Territory, Durant is now a city on the move, officials say.
Like any city on the move, Durant is experiencing its share of growing pains.
The old saying, “No pain, no gain,” could certainly be true in Durant.
Durant City Manager Tim Rundel said, “Transparency in city government was a hot topic this year. I believe we met the challenge.”
City leaders are optimistic that Durant will come out on top, especially when compared to other cities its size.
Rundel said, “We will launch the OpenGov module in 2018 on the city website for our citizens to review current and previous budgets to track revenues and expenditures.”
A new steel mill has been constructed with smaller businesses springing up that support that industry.
Because of this new growth, employees and their families need housing.
Up to 500 new homes are being built, under construction, or planned.
One official said, “We don’t have enough housing in Durant. We don’t want employees working in Durant, going over the river and living in Texas, if we can help it.”
Some city streets are being extended, with future plans for additional streets in current subdivisions.
Plans are in the works for new subdivisions in Durant, also.
The Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma and their new headquarters south of the city will continue to contribute even more to our economy.
One official said, “Great new things are happening all over the city.”
“It’s not without hiccups,” another official said.
Durant is embracing the 21st century and its technology, too.
The water utility department is under new leadership that once the wrinkles are worked out, will provide a smooth service to citizens, according to officials.
The Durant Airport has replaced vital equipment, with steps being taken to upgrade that facility.
Durant City Council meetings have citizens attending meetings and becoming educated and involved in their city government.
City Council meetings are now being streamed (broadcast) on the internet so even those at home can be involved.
One official said, “We hope this streaming of video into the homes of our citizens will have them thinking and operating on the facts of what goes on at meetings, instead of wrong information being distributed on social media. Maybe the educated citizen will stop listening to rumors and misinformation that’s being put out there.”
Durant now has its own YouTube Channel that will archive past meetings for those who wish to review past council activity.
It’s called “City of Durant Council Chambers,” or it can be found by doing a search on that site.
Additionally, the City of Durant launched a new website with many future enhancements planned to help citizens better relate to their city government.
New options for citizens to pay their water utility bills were unveiled last year, with usage of those methods increasing daily.
A public partnership between the City of Durant and Durant Trails and Open Spaces continues with new portions of that city wide trail being added and more in the works.
Southeastern Oklahoma State University, and Rustin Concrete are partners in the trails project with ODOT providing the grant.
Rebecca Collins, Grant Coordinator for the city said,“The City of Durant is a certified healthy community by the State of Oklahoma Health Department. The trail system encourages a healthy lifestyle.”
Marty Cook, Public Works Director said, “All the money for Rails to Trails is actually coming from our community partners. The city is reaping the benefit. We are using some manpower with our grant writer, Becca Collins, but really all the upfront investment is coming from outside. There are several instrumental in that project.”
Collins work heading up the City’s Grant Department has brought substantial revenue into the city for several major upgrades and enhancements for its citizens.
She said, “The rewards of securing grant funding improves the overall quality of life for Durant citizens. The City of Durant has been fortunate to receive millions of dollars in grants funding. This money from grants is specified for improvements to our city. Many times the grant agency determines the type of projects.”
An “Arts District” is planned for the South 9th corridor in Durant.
Her department landed a grant to design and create an area for numerous outdoor activities for residents as well as provide a tourist destination.
This would bring Durant additional tourist revenue.
An office addition to City Garage at Public Works is planned which will provide a break room, and restroom facilities for employees as well as the additional office space.
Cook said, “It opens up the current space for room to perform maintenance and repairs on city vehicles. That project should be done in the first 60 days of 2018.”
A full-time City Planner was contracted out by City of Durant with Matt Nahrstedt taking on that role.
There will be a second position hired on that contract with funding provided by City Council.
Officials are optimistic that Nahrstedt will be instrumental in Durant’s future in the 21st century.
This position provides a much-needed service where a small city like Durant may not have one.
Cook said, “This hiring provides a service that we might not have been able to afford otherwise.”
A road overlay project on Evergreen from 16th to 19th provided sewer drainage repairs, pipe repairs and a resurfacing of that portion of roadway.
Cook said, “Since that area was opened up, the city was able to do much-needed repairs. Many residents use that street as a primary route to travel to the west side to avoid Main Street. That should be good for another 25 years.”
Major renovation work underway at Carl Albert Park in addition to the swimming pool upgrades and repairs.
Wall Engineering is administering this project with the gunite seal taking the place of the liner condemned by the Health Department. The plaster-like substance will provide a seal that should last years, according to officials.
Cook said, “That project is going out for bid right away so work can start on the pool so it will be completed in May.”
Larkspur Street Extension Project will soon be underway with that street extended nearly 1/2 mile north of Heritage Crossing.
It will provide a street for new home construction for the nearly 100 homes to be built there.
Cook said, “Eventually that will go east and tie into Littlejohn on the Madison Ridge side and provide another way in and out for those residents.”
Barker and Associates is administering that project.
A 24 inch Forced Sewer Line Relocation Project on Highway 78 with contracts signed and construction finished in 75 days. Barker and Associates is administering this project from south of the bypass to Davis Road.
The Airport Runway Extension Project design fees are being negotiated, process has begun for acquiring property, and FAA requests are being continuously met with regards to the Airport Overlay
Zone and relay of documentation for flight path changes.
According to Cook, 1,800 feet will be added to our runway’s south end.
Streetscape V project continues which will provide Durant complying with American’s with Disabilities Act.
Ramps and wheelchair access will be constructed. Cook said, “They are sidewalks, curb and gutter and walkways. It will create accessibility to those areas. That was not done on the sidewalks originally.”
Collins in the Grants Department is working on that project as well.
Marty Cook’s wife Annette suffered a stroke nearly 4 years ago.
Cook said, “We have several restaurants in Durant that I can’t take my wife to. I can’t unload her on the curb in the road or parking lot. I usually have to park on a corner to access a way to get her up to the sidewalk. Streetscape put trash cans and benches in various places, but it also allowed room for a wheelchair. There’s a 36-inch path around town now with accessible sidewalks.”
Compliance with the ADA is very important, plus it helps many citizens of the city. Cook said, “To be honest, 5 years ago, I didn’t give it much thought, but now it’s more important to me and my wife, than it ever was.”
Durant City Hall was cleaned and repairs were made to the building. These repairs were needed to prevent water damage from a leaky roof.
Karr Tuckpointing did the repairs for the City.
The City’s insurance company required those repairs in order to maintain the City’s insurance coverage.
Nearly 400 bricks were replaced along with the entire outside cleaned of years of weathering.
The flagship of the City of Durant is standing proud to welcome citizens to do city business.
Current city leadership is very optimistic for Durant, it’s citizens and its future.
Rundel said, “I believe the Mayor and Council are fully on board with the new tools to help our citizens be more informed. with facts, not rumor and innuendos.”
The improvements to City Hall, the renewing of vital areas of the city, new commercial business and housing that accompanies these business, is improving the Durant economy.
One official said, “Durant’s been here over a hundred years. A city either grows or it dies away. Durant will be here a hundred years from now. Whether you raise a family, or just live or retire here, Durant will continue to be a great city!”