Residential builders continue to do what they can within the City of Stillwater, but a lack of available land that is suitable for development limits them.
In recent years much of the single-family residential development activity has focused on open tracts of land outside the city limits.
Previous city councils considered annexing additions on the edge of the city as a way to increase the city’s tax base and push Stillwater’s population to 50,000. For years, city leaders have said reaching that magic number is the key to making Stillwater a metropolitan statistical area, which changes how funding makes it way to the city from the federal government and puts it on the radar for certain businesses it would like to attract.
The city’s view of annexation has changed over time as city leaders looked critically at what it would cost to take responsibility for infrastructure and provide essential services like police and fire to those areas.
The growth of housing additions outside the city limits has put pressure on city-owned rural water districts that have struggled to keep up with the demands larger homes with multiple bathrooms and sprinkler systems present, especially in the southwest quadrant. Tower Park on the northern edge of Stillwater has also dealt with low water pressure at times.
To provide relief for those issues and accommodate future growth and development, the City of Stillwater adopted the Water 2040 Plan to improve the city’s water system through a series of phased projects that will be completed through the year 2035 at an estimated total cost of $93 million.
Phase 1 included two new water towers, new booster pump stations and new lines as well as upgrades to the pump station at the water treatment plant. The $51 million third and final phase is set to be re-evaluated in 2020.
The Water 2040 improvements are being funded through loans issued by the Oklahoma Water Resources Board. Payments on the debt come from revenue generated by the water utility.
To make the most of existing infrastructure, city leaders are now emphasizing higher density development and redeveloping the city’s core over expanding its boundaries.
In spite of the challenges, a few developers have found pockets of open land and are working within the city limits.