We went with a group of friends not long ago to Bricktown for an evening of bowling at the Redpin Lounge and dinner at Bolero Spanish Grill & Tapas Bar, both on the Bricktown Canal. Looking around, we all commented that it was hard to believe we were in Oklahoma City. This is a happenin’ place! We were all from Oklahoma City and remember what it used to be like. In 1993 the city changed when the original MAPS passed. MAPS has literally placed Oklahoma City on the map (pun intended). We’ve seen the Bricktown Canal, Bricktown Ballpark, Ford Center Arena and much more. This has brought in $10 in outside development for every $1 the taxpayers put in. Additionally, all the upgrades we’ve seen have been paid for in cash. No long term bond financing required. The tax involved a penny sales tax increase until 1999. In 2001 voters approved another penny sales tax in a measure called MAPS for Kids. This has provided 70 new and renovated schools in Oklahoma City Schools and an additional $153 million for 23 suburban school districts.
This morning at our company meeting, we heard a presentation of MAPS 3. This proposal comes to a vote December 8, just a month away. MAPS 3 will take what we’ve done over the last 16 years and take Oklahoma City on to the next level. Here is a summary of the projects from the Oklahoma City MAPS website:
Summary of MAPS Projects
Please note that more information on each project will be made available at regular press conferences beginning in October. All costs are estimates.
Cost: $130 million
Description: This project is a downtown park that is approximately 70 acres. It will begin as a two-block-wide park at the future boulevard (the current Interstate 40 alignment), proceed south to the future Interstate 40 alignment, and continue from there as a one-block-wide park to the Oklahoma River. The upper park will be fully programmed, including a cafe, lake, and other amenities.
- The concept of a large, central park is the result of an inclusive community planning process known as “Core to Shore” that was convened to consider what should be done with the land south of the soon-to-be-relocated Interstate 40.
- Some land acquisition for the park was funded by the 2007 bond issue.
- The “SkyDance Bridge,” which is already funded, links the upper and lower parks.
- A large central park will provide an amenity that most world class cities enjoy.
Cost: $130 million
Description: The transit package includes approximately five to six miles of downtown streetcar. The streetcar will be on rails in City streets and link major employers, businesses, attractions and residential communities in the downtown area. The transit package can also include funding for other commuter rail transit lines that may become feasible in the near term, along with an intermodal transit hub in downtown.
- Streetcar, commuter rail and a hub are all called for in the Fixed Guideway Study, which provides a blueprint for transit needs in central Oklahoma over the coming decades.
- Streetcar is a critical first step towards a better transit system.
- A better transit system will lead to a healthier, more sustainable community.
Cost: $280 million
Description: This project is a new convention center to replace the Cox Business Services Convention Center. The new convention center will include exhibit halls, meeting rooms, ballrooms, mixed uses, and parking.
- The Cox Business Services Convention Center is already inadequate in terms of size and amenities, and will be nearly half-a-century old by the time a new convention center could open.
- A study commissioned by the Greater Oklahoma City Chamber of Commerce showed that superior convention center facilities in neighboring cities and states are beginning to erode the $2.1 billion that enters the Oklahoma City community each year from visitors, and that soon, the Cox Center will be unable to compete.
- The tourism industry is responsible for thousands of jobs in Oklahoma City.
- Visitors also help to improve the quality of life for residents by creating a better market to attract direct flights and unique retail.
Cost: $10 million
Description: This project will strategically construct sidewalks in different areas of the city on major streets and near facilities used by the public (such as schools and libraries).
- The 2007 bond issue included $68 million for sidewalks next to all resurfacing projects, but this sidewalks project is focused on strategic placement of sidewalks in areas of potentially high foot traffic.
- The sidewalks will be placed all over Oklahoma City.
- Sidewalks help to build a healthier community.
Cost: $40 million
Description: This project will construct 57 new miles of bicycling and walking trails, all but completing Oklahoma City’s trails master plan.
- The City has a trails master plan that will not be complete for decades, unless this initiative passes.
- The trails will be placed all over Oklahoma City.
- Trails help to build a healthier community.
The Oklahoma River
Cost: $60 million
Description: This project will provide improvements to the Oklahoma River, including a public whitewater kayaking facility, and upgrades intended to achieve the finest rowing racecourse in the world. The whitewater facility is estimated to cost $25 million with the remaining $35 million to fund River improvements. Those improvements include grandstands, parking, Lincoln Bridge enhancements, a floating stage, river beautification, lighting and other improvements to the course itself.
- The United States Olympic Committee recently named the Oklahoma River an official Olympic Training Site.
- The whitewater kayaking facility is an amenity that will be open to the public.
- Activities on the Oklahoma River have become a ma
jor attraction for Oklahoma City, and present an opportunity to achieve world class status in paddle sports.
- Rowing and kayaking promote a healthier community.
Health and Wellness Aquatic Centers for Senior Citizens
Cost: $50 million
Description: This project will construct multiple state-of-the-art health and wellness aquatic centers for senior citizens at locations around the city.
- Seniors are an ever-growing demographic in America, and Oklahoma City is no exception.
- Many American cities are establishing world-class aquatic senior centers.
- These centers will promote a healthier community.
Oklahoma State Fairgrounds
Cost: $60 million
Description: This project will upgrade publicly-used facilities at the Oklahoma State Fairgrounds, especially those used by the public during the annual State Fair of Oklahoma. It will consolidate various structures that are in excess of 50 years old.
- Through horse shows, the Oklahoma State Fairgrounds are an economic driver for tourism.
- Through regional events like Affair of the Heart and the annual State Fair, the Fairgrounds are a major local amenity.
- The State Fairgrounds are perhaps the most widely-used public facility in Oklahoma City.
Please note: MAPS also includes $17 million in contingency funds.
The highlight of the project is the 70 acre ‘Central Park’ which will lead from downtown to the river and take away a blighted area and make a great new entry into the city from the new, relocated I-40. The convention center is badly needed to make Oklahoma City competitive in the convention business. We need those dollars that visitors leave behind. The 57 mile trails project will connect all the existing trails.
Come on Oklahoma City, lets finish what we’ve started. I’m planning to vote for it.