I heard an ad on the radio today explaining that a vote for MAPS 3 is a vote for: more jobs, healthy living, and public safety. The ad was paid for by the YESforMAPS campaign, so I guess it makes sense that it seemed carefully engineered to convince people to vote yes. In the midst of a major recession, who doesn’t like more jobs. And when you live in America’s #2 Fattest City, supporting healthy living seems like a good idea. And public safety, who could vote against public safety.* But I didn’t like the ad. In fact, I hated it. Because in the midst of the calculated message they failed to focus on the primary reason people should vote yes for MAPS 3. In fact, it is the only reason I voted yes (I voted early), and it is a major factor in me and my wife’s recent decision to move back to Oklahoma City. That is – MAPS has improved and will continue to improve quality of life in Oklahoma City!
The original MAPS was an effort to enhance quality of life in Oklahoma City and it has been an overwhelming success. The laundry list of development, investment, and improvements that have occurred as a result has been recounted so many times that it serves little purpose to create one more such list. But let me sum up the impact like this: Everday my life in Oklahoma City is made better as a direct result of MAPS. If you live or work near downtown, or enjoy attending sporting events, or own a house that has a appreciated as a result – MAPS has made your life better too. And our improved quality of life has brought with it a new sense of community pride. People all over the city are proud of what we have accomplished, are working each day to make our city better than the day before, and, like me, look to the future with a hope and optimism that only a few quixotic visionaries might have had 16 years ago.
MAPS3 can build upon this success and ensure that our hopes and dreams today become line items on tomorrow’s laundry list of accomplishments. MAPS3 will – without a doubt – improve the quality of life in Oklahoma City! MAPS3 could provide our city with a park capable of serving as a physical heart and a gathering place for the whole community, something which has been conspicuously absent since the hastily planned grids laid out 120 years ago. And after enduring almost a half century of a over-engineered drainage ditch, and only just now beginning to appreciate the benefits of having a waterway with actual water, MAPS3 could transform the Oklahoma River into, not only an elite international rowing venue, but an incredible recreational playground for the entire city to enjoy – whether as participant or spectator. Finally, MAPS3 could provide the beginnings of a meaningful transit system by making areas around downtown accessible sans automobile. Hopefully the future will bring a regional system that provides broader service, but either way, a legitimate downtown transit system will be a necessary first step for making a more expansive solution possible.
That is why I am voting yes for MAPS3. Do I like all of the projects? No. But this is not MAPSforBlair; MAPS is an exercise in successful community compromise and MAPS3 is the most aggressive test yet of this principle. You might not like all of the projects either, or are perhaps insulted by the simplistic rhetoric being spewed by both sides, BUT if you believe the city should continue working to improve our quality of life, you should vote yes for MAPS3 on December 8th.