It was last December that Lawton announced the idea to build a standalone sports complex down in Elmer Thomas Park. While it went mostly unnoticed until March when the design details were given, it was instantly and almost unanimously unpopular among residents.

"If we're going to spend $40-million in tax revenue, we should rebuild our crumbling roads..." was the general consensus. The rumors that the proposed courts and playing surfaces wouldn't be standardized and acceptable for league play also killed excitement for the project.

It quickly became a tender subject throughout the community.

Of course, any parent with an active or constantly bored kid looked at this with enthusiasm as an opportunity to give their kids, but as the needs of the many always outweigh the needs of the few, it has remained a sour topic in most circles.

After months of talks, a skyrocketing projection of cost in this time of growing inflation, and the accusation that the city council would willfully neglect Lawton's actual needs as recommended by the city manager, they've flown a flag of truce on the topic.

Instead of hopping into a gleamingly new $40-million project surrounded by crumbling roads, they've opted to spend $40,000 to survey the citizenry for one of two reasons. Either they hope they'll get some sort of unofficial permission to build, or perhaps they're looking for a reason to ditch the project altogether solidly laying the blame at the feet of residents.

It's not the weirdest play in the political playbook. They've already decided a sports complex wouldn't be fit in Elmer Thomas Park... or at least not in the proposed original place.

One city hall insider did suggest that the city council is tired of hearing from their constituents about this unpopular project, so they're opting for dereliction of duty and passing the buck on down the line. They also said the project will likely happen since it's allegedly a pet project of a small town mayor that would rather be remembered for a sports complex rather than a utility bill pay website that refuses to work correctly.

While, as a fellow resident, I also would rather have better roads but I understand the sentiment of parents. If we're to build it, why not put it in the mall? There's tons of room in the old Sears and Dillard's for basketball, soccer, etc... Since the city already owns it, it'd be a way to compromise building the project but still having a little money laying around to spend on anything else but roads like normal.

I can already hear someone in city hall saying "That space is for FISTA..." It's a fair point but from what everyone who has been to the mall in the last two years has seen, FISTA isn't going to need that space anytime soon. Besides, there's more than plenty of vacant space in that mall to accommodate it all.

The city will have more details on it later. I'd offer you a link but between the paywalls and impossible-to-navigate websites, we'll just have to talk it out like adults.

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