“There are things to learn, and be done differently,” Jones said. “That's why in Phase 1, there might not be a building. We also will be meeting with operators early.”
Despite prior concerns by some MAPS 3 citizen review committee members that some buildings on the park property, notably the Salvation Army Citadel chapel, are historic and worth saving, her plan calls for demolition of all structures except the Union Station (which is not scheduled for remodeling as part of the MAPS 3 park budget).
“They're just in the wrong place,” Jones said. “It would be hard for a restaurant to make them work. The location of the boulevard is important for the restaurant.”
Timing of the project, questioned multiple times over the past two years, was again challenged Wednesday by the citizens' committee.
Committee member Anthony McDermid questioned whether the park might suffer if it opens as planned in 2014 when “from 2014 to 2018 everything north of the park is a construction site.”
“Except for the boulevard,” Jones responded.
McDermid challenged that assumption and warned the park will “literally feel like an island.”
Kimberly Lowe, chair of the committee, assured McDermid the boulevard is on schedule for a 2014 opening.
“Every time I meet with the mayor (Mick Cornett), he assures me the boulevard will be open and operating in 2014,” Lowe said.
The Oklahoma Transportation Department warned earlier this month that redesigns of the boulevard will cause the project construction to be delayed until 2014, with an opening not set until 2016. Brenda Perry, department spokeswoman, confirmed to The Oklahoman Wednesday that construction bids won't be sought for the project, including the stretch of the road that will pass the park, until later 2013 or early 2014.
“It seems to me it would be worth reconsidering the timing of the park to do it all in one phase in 2018, when the convention center (planned for the block immediately north of the park) is done and the boulevard is done,” McDermid said.
Jones said a delay on the boulevard might impact the park schedule.
“It's something we will have to work through,” Jones said. “The idea of the park is to dovetail with the boulevard, so as they change, we'll change with them.”
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Meeting set for today
A preliminary master plan for the MAPS 3 Core to Shore park will be presented and Phase 1 improvements will be discussed during a community meeting at 6 p.m. Thursday in the fourth floor auditorium of the Ronald J. Norick Downtown Library, 300 Park Ave.