This Is Why They Don’t Build Stuff In East Lawton
You hear it all the time, or at least I do. Anytime there's a new business announced or a building project anywhere in Lawton, those that live out on the east side start talking about how "they" should build something on the other side of I-44.
Of course, while it would be ideal in their own eyes, it's always the loud ones we hear the most... crying about it's "not fair" that Lawton keeps growing where the majority of its citizens live out west, and how "something should be done to ensure the east side grows..."
As bad of an idea as it would be to get the city council or mayor's office even more involved in business development and real estate, I'm pretty empathetic to the cause.
When I finally decided to put down roots and buy a house in Lawton, I looked at quite a few homes on our east side. I wanted to be neighbors with my best bro, silently living off in a quiet, low-crime area of town. Where the lawns are generally well taken care of, weeds get sprayed, they stay mowed and pretty looking. Where residents are mostly owners and take a little pride in putting in some work to make a nice-looking home... but my journey didn't go how I planned it would.
I've lived in three places here in town. When I first moved here, I lived close to downtown. I was in a rush to find an apartment, and I just happen to pull into a vacant driveway to look up the next apartment complex on my list. The landlord pulled in, offered to show me the property, and I ended up renting a brand-new shotgun duplex for several years.
It was probably my favorite home I've ever lived in. It wasn't a huge place to live, but it felt massive while living there. It was just three huge rooms with really tall ceilings and that new-carpet smell. Eventually, I outgrew it needing more room for activities, so I looked for a place that had a two-car garage. That search landed me on the west side.
The difference between living in midtown and west Lawton is a big one. Living within walking distance of the bank, groceries, entertainment, real sit-down restaurants was a polar shift I didn't think about before moving into that tiny 1970's home on one of the Cheyenne roads out that way.
When I finally decided to buy, as I said, I initially looked out on the east side of town since it was so quiet, safe, and described as "better" by everyone that lives out there already... but after seeing a dozen homes in a few different neighborhoods, a sudden realization hit...
There's nothing on the east side.
I didn't want to trade being blocks from groceries for being miles from them. I didn't want to trade all of those restaurants for a really limited selection of fast foods. Instead of walking down the block to see a movie, I'd have to drive all the way across town. It doesn't seem like a big deal, but we had this deal with Carmike where we DJ's saw movies for free. I practically lived at the theater for a decade before AMC came back in.
After being spoiled by the bevy of offerings west Lawton has to offer, I couldn't willingly go live in a place that had nothing to offer at the time.
Don't get me wrong, if high-speed internet was available in the country, I'd be in a little house on the prairie... but I couldn't accept that same veritable isolation while staying inside city limits on the east side.
Still, when something new hits out west, the cries turn foul out east.
Perhaps they're caught in a weird Field of Dreams scenario... Plenty of people live out that way, if there were more to do, see, spend, shop for, eat at, etc... maybe more businesses would line up to be part of it.
If they build businesses, businesses will come... Like some sort of cruel corporate Ponzi scheme.
Luckily, there's the rumor nobody seems to be denying about the east side getting a Chick Fil A alongside another new Dollar General type store...
A new CFA could potentially be the jumping-off point for east-side growth... you'll just have to hope it happens as rumored. Until then, you're more than welcome to find your kicks in my neck of the woods.