Posts about general

Daily Links

January 10th, 2010
  • Edge said he’s working on a book about “street food” served at roadsides from trucks or carts and how the perception of it has changed from “roach coaches” to “the food of the people … a delivery method for good food.”

    In return for the freedom to write, Edge will moderate a panel about street food and how it relates to urban planning — “I’ll mostly ask questions from smart people and try to get out of the way” — and a presentation about street food, “a virtual tour of street food in America. I’d like many people to get an idea how vital street food is, how widely embraced it is. Many people think of modern street food as an L.A.-based phenomenon, but I can steer you to a Korean taco truck in Oklahoma City.”

Daily Links

December 29th, 2009
  • The next task for Beffort could be acquiring land for the MAPS 3 convention center if it is determined it will be in the Core to Shore area. The plan recommended it be south of the Ford Center and east of the park.

    Regarding the convention center’s location, Greater Oklahoma City Chamber President Roy Williams has said other possible sites could be the Producers Cooperative Oil Mill site, the lumberyard north of that facility or the Deep Deuce area north of Bricktown. Cornett said the com­munity would have input in public discussions for all potential sites.

    City officials do agree that the park will be the key project to spur development in the area. Holt said the city sees the park playing the same role in Core to Shore that the canal played in Bricktown by adding a large public improvement and then watching the market respond.

Daily Links

December 11th, 2009
  • “The MAPS 3 vote in Oklahoma City represents a community coming together to build a better future that includes sport and recreation,” said USRowing CEO Glenn Merry. “We are happy to be part of the legacy that will grow out of that. The riverfront development project is ambitious and visionary. I continue to be moved by the people of Oklahoma City to lead a stronger national governing body that engages the future in addition to reviving our great traditions.”

Why I Voted YES For MAPS 3!

December 4th, 2009

maps3park

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!

MAPS 3 will add streetcar transit to downtown

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.

maps3whitewater

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.

* ironically it seems the answer is – according to the radio ad – police and firemen.

Daily Links

December 3rd, 2009
  • To get some information, I visited the “Not this MAPS” facebook group, and this was the gist of the argument:

    Out of 3/4 of a BILLION dollars not one dime is for creating jobs, public schools, roads, bridges, police or fireman. Instead they want to make a downtown waterpark, or a $400 million downtown convention center.

    Correct me if I am wrong, but when you spend $400 million to build something, someone is going to be working on the project. Is there some stipulation in the wording of the initiative that demands that all work be done by out of state robots?

    So what would it take to get these people on board? It seems they want this MAPS initiative to act as a bake sale for the police and fire departments–or at least that’s the line of reasoning they are using to get the support of those unions.

  • We understand we are in a recession, and any projects that are not absolutely necessary may not be the wisest thing to spend money on now. But we see this project as necessary for large long-term economic benefits.

    These projects would go a long way in making Oklahoma City a vacation destination that would attract people from within Oklahoma, as well as from surrounding states. And this influx of visitors would bring with them an influx in money, which would boost the city’s economy.

    Furthermore, the projects may make OU students more inclined to stay in Oklahoma and around the metro area after graduation, which would help our local economy.

  • The Plaza District Association believes that MAPS 3 will create a better city for us to live, work and play. In addition, we believe the impact of this initiative will spur further growth for our district in regards to tourism. Our association has been supported by the City of Oklahoma City, and our experience has proven the city’s leadership believes and is accountable for the prosperity of ALL areas of Oklahoma City–even the little 1 1/2 block of NW 16th Street. If you haven’t in a while, talk a walk down our little stretch of 16th Street. You will be able to see how the vision of our city leadership to invest in this area, the hard work of the community and the dedication of our city’s law enforcement have all worked together to create an exciting and energetic district. We feel MAPS 3 will create an even better example of the public/private partnerships that continue to make our city a place we want to live.
  • Smaller Alternative

    I wish that instead of this MAPS 3 proposal, the city had proposed a Healthy City Initiative (not using the MAPS brand) and included the river improvements, trails, maybe the senior centers, maybe the park, and improvements to other parks and social services throughout the city. Something more in line with the successful 2007 bond issue. I think that would have easily passed and left time to put together a truly radical and transformative mega-project.

    Mega-project

    And we do need to put together a mega-project. The one that the citizenry asked for was public transportation (and moving people around downtown does not suffice). I do not believe this should be handled by the MAPS brand, but should be a permanent addition to the tax system in the city and the region. For, it must truly be regional and worked out in conjunction with outlying cities and the possibilities for increased rail (and other transport) on a state and national level.

  • The Whitewater Center expects to bring-in nearly $7 million this year, just enough to cover its bills and make a small profit of $11,000.

    The city of Charlotte gives the center $286,000 annually in taxpayer dollars.

    The Center says despite the recession, people are coming out to enjoy the rapids, rock wall climbing, and the cafe.

    "The bulk of our business takes place between April and the end of October, so we're cautiously optimistic we're going to end up having a pretty good year," said Operations Manager Jeff Wise.

    Hank Broska and his wife spent some time at the U.S. National Whitewater Center on Thursday.

    "It's our first time," said Broska. "We heard so much about it."

    This year, the park is offering an all-sport pass of $49 which makes it more affordable and allows visitors to enjoy all the park has to offer. Officials think this help boost the bottom line.

  • A proposed whitewater rafting and kayaking facility near downtown could have an annual economic impact of as much as $29 million, a study conducted for the Greater Oklahoma City Chamber of Commerce shows.

    “The total footprint of the mid-level park and associated buildings would be 15 acres,” the report says. “It would include a freestyle channel, an instruction channel, and a competition channel surrounding an upper and lower pond. There would also be a kayak- and canoe-launch area. The facilities would include a restaurant and conference center, an outfitter store and an adjacent climbing center.”

Daily Links

November 26th, 2009

Daily Links

November 23rd, 2009
  • Renovation of the Cox Center was included in the MAPS plan approved by voters in 1993. The work was done in 1999.

    Though the building opened in 1971, the renovation is only 10 years old. Williams said the work done through MAPS made the building look better, but didn’t solve any of its size limitations.

    “The renovation was carpet and painting,” Williams said. “It didn’t expand it. It didn’t improve it as far as capacity. It didn’t impact the infrastructure.”

    Because the Cox Center is surrounded by streets and businesses, it is “landlocked,” he said.

    “It can’t be expanded,” Williams said. “That building was designed and built as an arena, not a convention center. The exhibition space and meeting rooms were added as an afterthought.”

  • When it was built in 1972, the Myriad Convention Center wasn’t so much a convention center as it was an arena with a few dozen meeting rooms around it. That was fine for a time, though the Myriad never did draw the convention business leaders desired.

    So 20 years later, renovating and upgrading the center was important to helping the city lure more outsiders to town. The structurally outdated building proved expensive to upgrade, with a $63.1 million price tag. The plan worked. With a new wing of ballrooms and meeting space that totaled 100,000 new square feet, more and more conventions made their way to a city making a comeback.

    While the upgrades were great for the city, other cities upped the convention ante. Many other cities in the region now have larger and better convention centers, according to a study commissioned by the Greater Oklahoma City Chamber.

Daily Links

November 21st, 2009
  • That vagueness, as well as the effect of a down economy on projected tax revenues, concerns Councilman Brian Walters and others. The original resolution putting MAPS 3 in motion could be changed later, he said.

    “The citizens are voting on 1 cent for seven years and nine months, and not only do they not get to vote on the projects themselves, but there’s also an issue about the dollars it will raise,” said Walters, who is the lone council member to oppose the issue.

    Roy Williams, head of the Greater Oklahoma City Chamber, which is leading the MAPS 3 support, said city leaders appreciate the trust citizens have placed in them to bring about the projects as promised.

Daily Links

November 11th, 2009
  • Most of Project 180 is a direct spin-off of construction of a $750 million, 50-story new headquarters for Devon Energy Corp. being built immediately north of Myriad Gardens.

    Devon Energy could have sought to use much of the related tax increment financing for expansion of a garage and infrastructure. Instead, its CEO, Larry Nichols, asked that the funds improve downtown.

    The catch, as mentioned last week, is that the city is trying to finish much of the project by the tower’s completion in 2012. A large group of city planners and engineers, designers, property owners and downtown architects met to discuss planned improvements in the 10th floor meeting room in the city’s office annex at 420 W Main.

  • I think anyone can do the math that if we are going to design a new streetlight for a 21st century downtown OKC, we are going to need an appropriate amount of time and we’re already a year into knowing we need improved streetlights. Can Oklahoma City match what NYC produced? Yes, and this shouldn’t be a question. If it is, there are bigger issues at stake regarding talent retention, creative knowledge base, etc.

    But, there is one thing that keeps pulling at me. The job of the street lamp is to illuminate the activity on the sidewalks and roadways below. The streetlamps are very important, but I believe the bigger question is the one Steve posed at the very start:

    Will OKC be innovative with its downtown streets?

    When I read that question, it has more to do with what is being illuminated on and in the streets than what is happening above it.

Bike Commuting Up 26% in NYC

November 9th, 2009

With the help of over 200 miles of new bike lanes in the last three years, New York City boosted bicycle commuting ridership by another 26% this past year for a combined 66% in the past two years. For more details check out Streetsblog.