Civic leader and broadcasting veteran Lee Allan Smith has been in the visioning business for decades and played a leading role in the planning of monuments, public improvements and celebrations leading up to the Oklahoma Centennial in 2007. Smith also helped make the Myriad Gardens a reality, led in planning of the 1989 Olympic Festival and most recently has pushed for completing funding for the American Indian Cultural Center. He recently visited with The Oklahoman and shared his vision for 2033.
Q. What will the biggest change be in the Oklahoma City metro area?
A. We will see more accessibility into town by train, water and even by air. I expect to see high-speed trains from Tulsa, Wichita Falls, Kansas City and New Orleans. I see a big fast train coming in from Will Rogers World Airport, Norman, Edmond and out by El Reno. It will be a slick, wonderful mode of transportation the city has never seen. Maybe we’ll have a riverboat coming into downtown.
The main change you see is it will be the safest city in the whole world — we’ll have modern technology, cameras that can tell you when there are crimes are being committed. We have to face up to the reality of tornadoes, and we may have requirements that every home be built with a safe room. But maybe somebody also will figure out how to blast back a tornado.
Q. Will there be physical changes? If so, what will they look like?
A. I think that there will be more skyscrapers. You will see more beautification, more gardens and businesses will soar by maintaining more landscaping. You will see a lot more fountains, statues and outdoor art. It won’t all be modern. It will be where there will be something for everybody. We will have an amphitheater downtown, not just the one we’re talking about (as part of MAPS 3). It will be bigger, more modern and sophisticated than what we see now in places like Dallas and Florida. It will be partially enclosed, but with ways to bring in cool air on hot summer days. I just know someone will invent a way to get that done.
Q. Where is the most potential?
A. Downtown will remain important, as I’ve always thought it should. When the (MAPS 3 Core to Shore) park gets going, other things will explode. NW 23 will be big, and we’ll see the eastside grow, especially with the adventure district.
The Boathouse District on the Oklahoma River won’t be recognizable. During that time, it will be phenomenal, and it will have everything one can imagine. You won’t have rock lining the shore — you’ll see a boardwalk. The area will be a beautiful place to walk, ride horses and have dances. It will go back to the Delmar Gardens heyday (the riverside amusement park of the early 1900s), but in a much bigger way. We’ll see a carousel and Ferris wheel. But it will be modern, with a triple-story carousel. It will be a landmark. And what’s going up is already great. Just wait until 2033.