Q&A - January 27, 2017

A few weeks ago, I gave you an assignment, and many of you did exactly as I requested. I encouraged you to consider the first impression people get when they visit Okmulgee. So, you got in your cars and scrutinized Okmulgee from all the main roads into town and many of you reported seeing “eyesores” all over town. Yet, this article is not intended to single out any specific examples; it’s just a summary of observations conveyed to me.

Q:What is the first impression visitors get when they come to Okmulgee?

First, I want to acknowledge that Okmulgee has made tremendous improvements over the past several years, considering the old oil refinery that has been cleaned up and all the new businesses along Highway 75. I have seen different crews picking up roadside trash in town and performing roadwork and curb repairs. Some business owners are showing more pride in their properties with new signs and other improvements. Much has been accomplished in Okmulgee, but there is still more to do.

As you drove along all the main thoroughfares, you saw things that were concerning to you. While you noticed several well-maintained businesses and properties, your overall impression of Okmulgee was poor. It would seem the unsightliness outweighed the attractiveness. Here’s what you reported seeing:

  • Okmulgee has a litter problem. Trash has blown into ditches, parking lots and along fence lines. Residents need to be more mindful of where they discard trash and make an effort to pick up trash when and where they can. Additionally, there are too many dumpsters and trash containers in plain sight. These are necessary, but they don’t necessarily need to be the first thing you see.
  • In many privately-owned lots, there is unsightly equipment, vehicles and inventory that should be better screened from public view. A few well-placed privacy fences would go a long way toward solving this problem.
  • We have broken curbs, sidewalks, and parking lots throughout the community. Normal wear and tear is going to happen, and concrete does not last forever. But when hard surfaces are not repaired in a timely fashion, the cumulative visual effect for the community is uninviting.
  • Okmulgee has beautiful trees, but many are severely storm-damaged, diseased or dead. These need to be cut down and removed. I know maintaining trees can be time-consuming, expensive and even dangerous; but there is a serious responsibility that goes along with tree ownership. Similarly, there are all too many brush piles in town that need to be hauled off or burned.
  • Sign pollution is also a problem. Up and down our main streets, there are too many homemade, temporary, and broken signs. These need to be thinned out, replaced, or better maintained. They are giving Okmulgee a shabby/rundown look that is not attractive to anyone.
  • We have too many abandoned and rundown buildings with blistering paint, weathered siding, dilapidated roofs, and overgrown lots. They need to be liquidated, razed, or renovated. They are not only offensive to the eye, they are depressing property values throughout town.

Please continue to send your questions to osuit-president@okstate.edu.