In the summer of 2011, city council members wrangled over the order in which the MAPS 3 projects should be tackled. The vote to move up construction of the convention center came during a meeting that one vocal opponent of the idea missed due to a travel snag. He wasn't happy.
There have been other dust-ups and hiccups regarding MAPS 3, the $777 million package of projects approved by voters in December 2009. The original proposal called for 70 miles of new sidewalks throughout the city. Turns out, the $9 million budget can provide for perhaps 37 miles' worth. Instead of four senior wellness centers, the city may wind up building two larger ones, for a variety of reasons. Last week, concerns about a parking garage and hotel related to the convention center generated pointed back-and-forth among council members.
We've seen this before — with the original MAPS, which wound up transforming our city, and with MAPS for Kids, which provided our schoolchildren with long-overdue capital upgrades.
The early years of the original MAPS were particularly bumpy, marked by cost overruns and delays and haggling. In 1997, then-Mayor Ron Norick, who had shepherded MAPS to approval in December 1993, called for key city employees to be fired over a long delay in renovation and expansion of the Myriad Convention Center. For a time, some speculated that the building now known as Chesapeake Energy Arena would never get built due to problems related to other projects.
The Oklahoman's Steve Lackmeyer, who has covered MAPS since its inception, wrote last week about changes in the design and location of the Bricktown Canal and other pieces of MAPS. Eventually, though, all the projects got completed. Similarly, MAPS for Kids is a success despite some fits and starts and concerns along the way.
The noise about MAPS 3 is healthy, and we're sure to hear more. But if history is any example, a decade from now we'll look back and say it was worth it.