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City, economic development authority team up to clean up, revitalize downtown area

Passersby on Cherokee going through Wagoner have likely wondered what was going on where the main thoroughfare intersects with N. Smith Avenue, just east of the railroad tracks.

City construction crews have been busy cleaning up the area on the north side of the road, on a piece of property formerly known as the Merrill Property, which was recently purchased by the City of Wagoner Economic Development Authority (CWEDA).

The property has been home to several businesses, but was most recently sitting vacant, filled with trash, dilapidated structures and required cleaning up.

The city’s economic development authority purchased the property as part of a bigger plan to clean up and revitalize the downtown area.

Once the city purchased the property, workers brought in equipment to begin the cleanup. A building on the property was demolished and removed with all the trash and some trees were removed.  

“For a long time, this was an eye-sore for everyone coming into our downtown,” Wagoner Mayor Albert Jones said. “This is all part of an ongoing effort to revitalize our city.”

“It’s needed to be cleaned up for a long time, and, since it’s a city property, we were able to use city workers and city time to do the demolition and cleanup, therefore saving taxpayers a lot of money,” he added.

CWEDA Board Chairwoman Pamela Stephens-Karnes said the authority is developing plans for the property, which will likely tie into a larger project of cleanup and revitalization that includes the buildings on Main Street that were lost to fire last summer.

High winds damaged one of those structures, causing it to collapse, Tuesday, March 6. The city was forced to immediately raze two of the building’s walls due to safety concerns.

The structures are to be evaluated by structural engineers to decide the best way to rebuild the buildings or remove them.