Monday, December 7, 2009

The last MAPS post: Lucky #7?

Tomorrow is the big day, the day we've all been waiting on. The day that will affirm or negate the momentum that OKC has built up through the last 10 years. It comes down to a hastily-organized election over a 7-year extension to generate $777 million for 7 projects (not counting sidewalks). So will the number 7 be lucky for Oklahoma City, or will antagonistic union subterfuge harm progress? It's very possible that MAPS is in the closest dogfight it's ever been in and there is no telling which side will be victorious. That's why everybody in OKC who reads this blog needs to turn out to vote.

The best editorial on this comes from Oklahoma City University President Tom McDaniel. Tom wrote:

"Vision is not about what we are. It is about who we are and who we aspire to be. Vision is limited for those with short-term, selfish goals and naysayers who see every glass half empty.

Vision is about saying yes - yes to momentum, to big ideas, to being all that we can be, and to dreams that reach beyond our own lives to those who will follow. Every generation has an opportunity to say yes to a vision. This is ours. Join me in voting yes on Dec. 8th."

This will be an initiative that lives in infamy. Throughout the 60s and 70s we wrecked our downtown with the incomplete I.M. Pei masterplan to just root out the old and stick in the new. That was not a plan geared toward people and toward vitality. MAPS 3 is. We're putting amenities in downtown, and nothing more. We are letting the free market do its thing with development. We provide the community gems, our developers provide the community. Look at the city that's emerged. Look at the potential we have.

With MAPS 3, we've taken the best that bigger and better cities have done since we did MAPS and we applied the MAPS formula to it. Houston and Chicago have done ground-breaking things with downtown parks. Portland has done ground-breaking things with streetcar. Just pick a city..Pittsburgh/Houston/Denver/Dallas..have done ground-breaking things with a convention center. Charlotte has done ground-breaking things with an artificial white water rapids. Little Rock has done ground-breaking things with senior centers. There is one project where we've been the one doing the ground-breaking stuff in the past, and that's the river for rowing. We're going to attempt to redefine the success of these projects, including our own rowing, and offer them to the citizens of OKC. We're taking elements that have gone over big in other cities and applying them to our own city. We expect equally positive effects at the worst.

MAPS 3 is not about staying up with the curve, though. It's about moving beyond the curve. It's about redefining success, creating a unique city, adding landmarks to OKC, and providing infrastructure that will serve OKC well for decades to come because it will be sustainable and long-lasting. MAPS 3 is about doing more than just night clubs and restaurants in Bricktown. It's about creating a bona fide live/work/play community. It's about attracting more college graduates to OKC, and keeping our OU/OSU/OCU grads here. It's about a more active lifestyle, so that OKC is no longer the most fast food binging, most chronically obese MSA in the nation. It's about fanning the effects of MAPS 3 around the entire city, so that it isn't just downtown that moves forward; the entire city will feel the effects of MAPS 3, whether you want to argue about that for MAPS 1 or not.

The entire city will enjoy the system of hiking and bicycle trails. Each section of the city that gets a senior city will benefit from that. Businesses on the west side of town will benefit from more expo shows at the Fairgrounds and the entire city will benefit from more sales tax from the expo center and the convention center. The south side, particularly Capitol Hill, will benefit from the stadium seats to be placed on the south side of the river. The whole center city will benefit from 5-6 miles of streetcar track. This could connect C2S, Bricktown, the Medical District/OHC area, Capitol area, Uptown, Heritage Hills, MidTown, Downtown/Arts District, and back to C2S. And the entire center city, anything between I-44 and I-240, will benefit from a downtown renaissance. Before MAPS, how fashionable was it to live in neighborhoods like Heritage Hills, Mesta Park, Gatewood, Jefferson Park, The Paseo, et all? The answer is not very en vogue. Because of MAPS, the entire city is en vogue. You can't put a pricetag on that. If we go back to a day and age where we as a community are too stubborn to invest in ourselves, we might not hit rock bottom again. We may even continue to make some progress, but it won't be a whole lot of progress. We will not even come close to realizing our full potential right now.

We are currently a fairly prosperous city at a time that everyone else is licking their wounds and cutting back. Now is that most advantageous time ever for us to make our move to become the next Dallas. It might not seem like so on an icy December day, that's frigid and nobody wants to stand in lines to go vote in a bitterly contested election that could go either way. But it is the biggest election OKC has had in 15 years, since the original MAPS. On December 8th, tomorrow, your vote will be more important than ever. Get out the vote and keep OKC in its pole position in the race.

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