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MAPS 3 oversight group asks for clean slate in deciding convention center location

Members of the MAPS 3 oversight committee said Thursday they will look at all possible sites for a convention center and questioned the appropriateness of being instructed by the mayor that their choice consists only of two sites.
BY STEVE LACKMEYER Modified: July 23, 2010 at 12:52 am •  Published: July 23, 2010

Mayor Mick Cornett was informed Thursday that the MAPS 3 citizens oversight board will not limit their consideration of convention center sites to two locations in the Core to Shore plan.

Downtown property and business owners, especially those in Bricktown, have been closely following such discussions, with some like hotelier Marsh Pitman saying a site favored by Cornett would hurt the entertainment district.

One committee member on Thursday questioned the appropriateness of the mayor's telling them the choice consists of two spots.

Cornett told the MAPS 3 board at their first meeting on May 27 that "generally it comes down to two sites that are relatively close to each other."

In previous interviews with The Oklahoman, Cornett has identified those sites as property south of Ford Center and east of a planned central park (another MAPS 3 project), and on the Southwestern Producers Coop site south of Lower Bricktown.

"The mayor commented he thought generally it came down to two locations," board member Rusty LaForge said Thursday. "It should be more broad than that. I'm not sure that's (the mayor's instructions) appropriate. Every citizen I've talked to believes there should be a lot more."

$30 million earmark

At the same May 27 meeting Cornett also told the board that $30 million of the $280 million budgeted for a convention center must be spent on buying a substation and buildings belonging to Oklahoma Gas and Electric on the south of Ford Center site that was championed during the MAPS 3 campaign.

Councilman Larry McAtee, a member of the oversight committee, said the selection process will be handled fairly, and without bias.

McAtee said the city council never agreed to reserve $30 million for the OG&E property, that no public discussion of such a purchase has occurred, and that $280 million will be budgeted for a convention center regardless of what site is chosen.

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