Oklahoma Central: Sides drawn on Oklahoma City's former Central High School building purchase

Steve Lackmeyer: In an era where so many controversies feature rivals that can be easily set apart as “good guy” and “bad guy,” the quandary of who to root for in the bidding for downtown's historic former Central High School is far more in the gray area.
by Steve Lackmeyer Published: July 10, 2012
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In an era where so many controversies feature rivals that can be easily set apart as “good guy” and “bad guy,” the quandary of who to root for in the bidding for downtown's historic former Central High School is far more in the gray area.

As I reported Sunday, Oklahoma City Public Schools superintendent Karl Springer has high hopes of reclaiming the school, which the district sold to Southwestern Bell Telephone some three decades ago. With the current administration building at NW 8 and Klein Avenue a mess surrounded by boarded-up and unkempt homes, the school system would enjoy a much-needed boost in self-esteem with a move to the ornate downtown Central High at 800 N Harvey Ave.

But there's a catch: Oklahoma City University wants to buy the same property for its law school. And while some readers were sympathetic to the needs of Oklahoma City Public Schools, the majority who commented either on the story, or via Twitter, Facebook or on local message boards, clearly were far more excited about the prospect of old Central High becoming a law school.

It's understandable. The public's view of the school administration building is usually via televised news reports of angry protests at school board meetings or of beleaguered spokespeople issuing statements about unfortunate incidents involving school buses or schoolyard fights.

OCU, meanwhile, promotes a vision of hundreds of law students filling up the hallways and restored classrooms at Central High and working at area firms during the day, and renting downtown apartments and enjoying the downtown entertainment scene at night.

Despite an explanation that OCU's original choice for new law school home, the old Fred Jones auto plant at 800 W Main, is economically unfeasible, a couple of readers insisted it should go back to that original plan. Readers were indeed upset when OCU abandoned those plans, which would have been a great boost to redevelopment of downtown's long blighted west side.

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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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Public investment should never crowd out private.”

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