Currently our fine city of 547,000 people is at a crossroads as we mull over a potential 3rd installment of MAPS, the highly successful Metropolitan Area Projects. Now that Oklahoma City is a “Big League City” we are competing with an entirely different and much more competitive class of communities, so our thinking and understanding must evolve as well. Since the decline of downtown at the hands of suburban sprawl, downtown has always been relegated to some special place where somehow providing the infrastructure necessary for it to blossom is entirely different than providing infrastructure necessary for anywhere else in the city, like the Quail Springs and Westmoore areas. These rapidly growing areas of the city add hundreds of residential unit’s a year.
In 2008, OKC, Norman, Edmond, Midwest City, and Moore were alone combined for around 4,000 housing permits. However that number could have been much higher had the economy not stalled nearly 3,000 residential units in the downtown area, proving that downtown OKC can be a viable community with just as much growth as suburban OKC. According to a market study of 14 peer cities, each of these cities had around 5% of their metropolitan population in their downtown. With 1,262,000 accounted for in Metro OKC, that means there should be 63,000 people living in downtown, or slightly more folks than Moore. But as it is downtown has no grocery store, no elementary school, crumbling streets, pathetic infrastructure, and next to no mass transit.
Are we taking downtown seriously, even after the MAPS euphoria has hit, or do we just treat downtown like the pet project of a popular former mayor? Let’s be real here. Having a viable community in the heart of OKC’s central core can be an impetus for metro-wide growth, but it’s just a joke as long as suburbs continue to be selfish with infrastructure. MAPS 3 should address downtown’s crippling infrastructure needs first and foremost and provide a lynchpin for achieving a critical mass of development. This should be the priority long before Chamber of Commerce and City Council pet projects.
Wednesday, August 12, 2009
Letter to the Daily Oklahoman
I've never really been the type for writing letters to newspapers, but I thought I'd give it a try. I feel like I'm doing this 50 years prematurely, but I suppose you can never start too soon. Writing letters to newspapers, that is. Will they even publish it? Who knows, I'll be surprised, but the worst they can do is reject it. I went a little bit over the word limit, which is 250 words.. which makes it really difficult to make a few cohesive points. Obviously if I really wanted to have my say appear in the mass media I should become a columnist, considering I could probably write a lot better than Ann Coulter and the rest of them. Anyway, here's what I wrote..