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Debate, second-guessing part of MAPS DNA in Oklahoma City

The history of MAPS is filled with debates, second-guessing and plan revisions.
by Steve Lackmeyer Modified: November 26, 2012 at 7:58 pm •  Published: November 27, 2012

Let the pain begin. Or rather, let it truly soak in now.

I've mentioned before that despite fuzzy memories to the contrary, the original Metropolitan Area Projects initiative was once reviled by residents, a political thorn in the side at City Hall and generally a four-letter word (MAPS!) all over town.

And in the darkest of days for MAPS (which my calendar shows took place in 1997), it had a long-serving mayor, Ron Norick, and city manager, Don Bown, both retiring from long-exhaustive tenures. The projects were seemingly forever behind schedule and over budget.

I like to remind readers, especially younger readers, of this history as they fret over the current status of MAPS 3, and as they ponder questions about where various projects might be located, how operations will be funded and whether correct decisions were made during early planning.

History tells us these growing pains are actually quite normal when it comes to MAPS. Consider what might have happened if original decisions were not second-guessed, if even those voices deemed to be perpetual “discontents” hadn't been given a chance to pitch their own visions of downtown Oklahoma City, circa 2010.

Imagine the four-story Ronald J. Norick Downtown Library, and not the 50-story Devon Energy Center, overlooking the Myriad Gardens. Such was the thinking in the mid-1990s as some sought to reserve a surface parking lot at Park and Hudson Avenues, where the library was built, for future expansion of county government offices.

Consider also that the first plan for the Bricktown Canal was to build it in a totally undeveloped area south of Reno Avenue and that the Chickasaw Bricktown Ballpark was to be built surrounded by surface parking. And if the city had taken the approach of proceeding with projects “exactly” as promised to voters, visitors today would not be treated to boat rides traversing between century-old warehouses renovated into shops and restaurants. At best, the entire ride would more resemble what folks see as they pass through the newer Lower Bricktown.

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by Steve Lackmeyer
Business Reporter
Steve Lackmeyer is a reporter, columnist and author 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...
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