Sunday, September 20, 2009

My Response to MAPS3

I am excited about most of these proposals, as I know every city benefits from improved public transportation (and being a car city, sidewalks & bike paths are important to the well being of pedestrians/bikers). I think a focused and well designed light-rail system would dramatically alter and improve our city (which is what the MAPS program is all about!).

Oklahoma City is infamous for destroying its older buildings for the promise of a newer, prettier city. In the 1970s, Oklahoma City hired I. M. Pei to help design a master plan known as 'Urban Redevelopment' here and the result was 50-60% of the buildings in downtown were destroyed to make room for parking lots. This included historic theaters, housing, city owned buildings, and a YWCA building that was a crown jewel of OKC. It was a tragedy for our city, for which only one was worse. From I.M. Pei's plan, we got a convention center and a botanical garden center that had a great modern design. I don't want a newer, prettier city. I want a place that has a history and a story! I want a place that's a bit gritty and allows for some adventure!

My issues with our current proposal are the park, the new convention center, and the improvements to the fairgrounds.

1) The park would destroy a lot of historic buildings and is expanding the city core when the core is still maturing. I'm afraid that it's taking energy (and money) away from proven successful neighborhoods that need a little bit more to arrive. These neighborhoods need more rentals (both residential and commercial) and streetscape investment. I'm speaking specifically about Midtown, Automobile Alley, Deep Deuce, and upper Bricktown. There are also buildings on the register of historic buildings that would go. While I do think a central park that leads to the river is great, they could create a bunch of public spaces that are square blocks (like they do in London!) and people would enjoy them more because they would be close. As it is, one has to take a car to the park, so we might as well make them closer to where we live.

2) There has been a large drop off of conventions after the recession started nationwide and our current convention center would be rendered obsolete if we were to build the new one. They remodeled our current one back in the late 90s (MAPS1) and it is now close to 40 years old. Why create a hole in the middle of downtown to spread it out?

3)The fairgrounds already gets our hotel/motel tourism tax so why should we invest any more public money in it? They have had tens of millions to improve and thankfully they have built new facilities and upgraded others. I think in the next 5-10 years they should be able to complete the renovations that have been going on for 10 years.

Overall, I think it's a great proposal and I hope the city council votes to move forward on most of the ideas. I do hope that they will listen to what the citizens are saying and not just to the mayor and the chamber of commerce.

3 comments:

Steven Anthony said...

best of luck;)

Dean Grey said...

Dane!

You're right! This post would've been waaaaaay too long as a comment in the previous post!

I too, hope the city council listens to what the OKC citizens are saying.

At least you're well informed on the topic (hee hee hee, I managed to sneak your blog's title in!).

-Dean

Dane said...

Thanks Dean!