Core to Shore faces questions about timing, viability of park

Core to Shore development south of downtown Oklahoma City, once poised for quick implementation, is facing a growing chorus of critics who want to see the effort slowed and subjected to further scrutiny.
by Steve Lackmeyer Published: May 29, 2011
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Core to Shore development south of downtown Oklahoma City, once poised for quick implementation, is facing a growing chorus of critics who want to see the effort slowed and subjected to further scrutiny.

In the past few weeks the most vocal proponent of Core to Shore, Mayor Mick Cornett, has seen some of his plans for the area rejected or questioned by city council members and influential citizen's review committees.

Those plans include:

• Unanimous rejection by a MAPS 3 citizens review committee and consultants of Cornett's favored Core to Shore site for a convention center at SW 3 and Robinson;

• City council opposition to Cornett's proposal to relocate an Oklahoma Gas & Electric substation at SW 4 and Robinson with $30 million of the $280 million approved for the convention center regardless of where the new convention center might be built;

• Suggestion by the chair of the MAPS 3 park subcommittee and several city council members that a park planned as the centerpiece of Core to Shore be delayed from first in line, as desired by Cornett, to being built last.

Convention center site

It was Cornett, without a city council vote, who repeatedly declared during the 2009 MAPS 3 campaign that the convention center should be built south of the arena. In those same stump speeches he declared the park would be built across the street and opening in conjunction with the completion of a new boulevard taking the place of the current alignment of Interstate 40.

Cornett has since indicated he might support a different site for the convention center — the former Bob Howard Ford dealership immediately south of Myriad Gardens as chosen by the MAPS 3 citizens subcommittee and consultants hired by the city. But he's not surrendered on using $30 million for the substation, which he argues needs to be moved to improve the area's appearance. And he's not interested in considering a delay in opening the proposed Core to Shore park.

“During the campaign we repeatedly communicated the park should open along with the boulevard,” Cornett said. “The park needs the boulevard and the boulevard needs the park. The park is a defining element for MAPS 3. It has a lot of buy-in and it shows that MAPS 3 is meeting expectations.”

Those opposed to the 2014 park completion point to the recently reopened Myriad Gardens as a top reason for revisiting the entire Core to Shore plan.

“The Myriad Gardens has a profound implication on the Core to Shore park,” said Ward 2 Councilman Ed Shadid. “It seems to me it will be in direct competition with the Core to Shore park on some of the presumptive revenue generators in terms of an ice-skating rink or a restaurant. … After the Festival of the Arts, the Myriad Gardens is seen as a wonderful urban park, and we need to ask whether the Core to Shore park is even viable.”

Ward 4 Councilman Pete White argues the opening of the Myriad Gardens isn't “a shot across the bow” but rather a “coup de grace” (death blow) for the Core to Shore park.

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by Steve Lackmeyer
Business Reporter
Steve Lackmeyer is a reporter and columnist who started his career at The Oklahoman in 1990. Since then, he has won numerous awards for his coverage, which included the 1995 bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building, the city's Metropolitan...
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Boulevard concerns

some city officials

Core to Shore was launched in response to the relocation of Interstate 40 a few blocks south of its current alignment. Plans call for the current alignment to be replaced with a new boulevard.

The new highway is on schedule for opening by mid-2012, with demolition of the current elevated Interstate 40 Crosstown Expressway to immediately follow.

Brenda Perry, spokeswoman for the Oklahoma Department of Transportation, said the $85 million boulevard is expected to be designed, built and opened by 2014 if current legislative funding levels for highway construction are maintained. Contract negotiations are under way with MacArthur & Associates to design the boulevard. The design requires the boulevard to be six lanes wide, with each lane spanning 12 feet. Critics say the width is equal to Northwest Expressway at Council Road.

Gary Ridley, director of the state Department of Transportation, told The Oklahoman in October city leaders can file an appeal with the Federal Highway Administration on the boulevard's width. Perry said this week that city officials have expressed concerns about the boulevard.

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