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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

"This will get cleared up as we move forward with the process of selecting a site, and selecting the consultants, and looking at the details of the sites," McAtee said. "There will be an open selection process for the convention center."

Cornett, who wasn't present at Thursday's meeting, declined to comment on his prior instructions to the group, but added they should be free to evaluate various options.

"They should look at the sites they feel like they should look at," he said.

As for the $30 million he said should be reserved for the OG&E property, Cornett said: "I would agree there has been no decision made. It's my opinion that the $30 million stays with the site so we can address those needs, and I don't think we're even sure what they are."

Cornett said he did mention using the $30 million for the OG&E property during the MAPS 3 campaign, though he acknowledged it was never listed in campaign literature and wasn't in the resolution passed by the council addressing how the MAPS 3 proceeds would be spent. Voters were told in all materials that $280 million would be budgeted for a convention center with no ties to site selection.

Unofficial approval

City Manager Jim Couch told the MAPS 3 committee the mayor's comments on May 27 reflected his own opinions. But afterward, he said council members were aware of the mayor's plans to use $30 million to buy the OG&E property even though such discussions never took place in public and never involved a vote.

"In the last days, there was a lot of changing of MAPS 3," Couch said. "We were trying to keep it under a seven-year program. We went up to seven years and nine months. There were some dynamics going on, budgets changing. We saw some issues with OG&E, and the mayor said, 'We need to get rid of the substation and let's put in $30 million for that.'"


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