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OKC Central Chat transcript, Feb. 21, 2014

The Oklahoman's Steve Lackmeyer took questions from readers in today's OKC Central Live Chat. You can join Steve's Q&A's on Fridays at 10 a.m. and submit your questions about the happenings in and around downtown Oklahoma City.
by Steve Lackmeyer Modified: February 21, 2014 at 12:12 pm •  Published: February 21, 2014

The Oklahoman's Steve Lackmeyer took questions from readers in today's OKC Central Live Chat. You can join Steve's Q&A's on Fridays at 10 a.m. and submit your questions about the happenings in and around downtown Oklahoma City. Below is an unedited transcript of the chat.

NewsOK 9:32 a.m. Good morning. Steve will be logging in at 10 a.m., but you can start submitting your questions now.
Steve Lackmeyer 10:07 a.m. Good morning! Sorry for the delay. Had some technical issues starting out. I am joined this morning by City Manager Jim Couch, and preference will be given to questions and comments addressing Jim.
Gary T 10:08 a.m. Jim, What, if anything, have you seen with the issues of the original MAPS that helped with the explanation and the passing of MAPS3?
Steve Lackmeyer 10:09 a.m. JIM: One of the things is the setting of expectations. With the original MAPS the time schedule was oversold. We set the expectations on the length of time it will take with these projects further. We've put reasonable schedules into the implementation and as of this date we are close to following the implementation plan.
Ronaldo 10:10 a.m. Why are all the talented planners leaving OKC? Does the "city" understand that having a human element is more important that traffic flow and drainage.
Steve Lackmeyer 10:11 a.m. JIM: Of course we understand that. Like all departments, peopple leave time to time. I think we have some very talented planners who are very committed to Oklahoma City. I haven't seen any data that indicates we have had any more planners leave OKC than any other city. Except for police and fire, where people rarely leave before retirement.
Guest 10:11 a.m. Have you ever thought about merging EMSA functions with the fire department to reduce personnel overlap?
Steve Lackmeyer 10:12 a.m. JIM: There is a five year window of opportunity to review EMSA and we review that option every five years.
Ms.J 10:12 a.m. How many policemen has the city of OKC hired in the last decade? Who decides how many are needed?
Steve Lackmeyer 10:13 a.m. JIM: Over the last decade the number has been pretty steady except the council added 40 positions last fiscal year and added anotehr 40 this fiscal year. The police chief has recommended adding officers, and his presentation was made about six weeks ago.
Steve Lackmeyer 10:14 a.m. JIM: Obviously we need to recognize the recession from 2008 to 2010 had an impact on what we were able to add.
Gary T 10:14 a.m. Jim, what have you perceived to be the biggest hurdle in getting the Boulevard completed to where all sides are happy?
Steve Lackmeyer 10:15 a.m. JIM: I think the public process we had in the summer/fall of 2012 was an excellent public process. The proposed designs is better than what we started. That process thought delayed start of construction of the boulevard from eighteen months to two years.
Gary T 10:16 a.m. Jim, who are you endorsing for Mayor and why?
Steve Lackmeyer 10:16 a.m. JIM: Thanks for the question. I encourage everyone to vote on March 4.
Steve Lackmeyer 10:16 a.m. STEVE: I'm not going to tell my vote either.
Pat 10:17 a.m. Good Morning, Why not return the crosstown blvd back to the grid. This would help as far as the tax roll goes, plus help the area become pedestrian friendly ? Thanks
Steve Lackmeyer 10:18 a.m. JIM: That's a cocnept that has been considered. And we need to blend the land use benefits back at grade with the need to move traffic in and out of downtown. It's a tough balance to adopt some of the new urbanism concepts with the challenge of continuing to move traffic. Both concepts need to be considered.
Terry 10:20 a.m. Mr. Couch, Give us your take on the status of downtown development and what you are the most excited about?
Steve Lackmeyer 10:21 a.m. JIM: Gosh. There are so many things I am excited about downtown. WHo would have thought we would be pushing 3,000 hotel rooms downtown? Who would have figured we would have the thousands of housing units added and the ones still coming online downtown. This week I am most excited about the rebirth of three long challenged buildings downtown - Century Center, the Journal Record Building, and the Fred Jones Assembly Plant. They all have viable redevelopment projects underway.
Steve Lackmeyer 10:21 a.m. STEVE: Ditto. Especially on Century Center (I am biased).
Nick 10:22 a.m. Good morning, Steve and Mr. Couch. Can someone shed some light on why the light poles outside St. Anthony Hospital's new parking lot were placed right in the middle of the sidewalk?
Steve Lackmeyer 10:22 a.m. JIM: I'm not familiar with the situation but we can look into it.
Gary T 10:22 a.m. What do you see happening with the Adventure District long term? Do you think the Chickasaws would be tempted to build more north fronting I-44? More hotels and casinos like a mini-Vegas?
Steve Lackmeyer 10:24 a.m. JIM: I see great opportunity for the Adventure District. I'm pleased to see the synergy by all the Adventure District participants. All great cities have multiple entertainment districts. It's important to embrace the Adventure District and embrace its growth. I don't know about a mini-Vegas. But I am sure that if Remington Park remains profitable for the Chickasaws they will re-invest.
Ronaldo 10:25 a.m. Who is managing the new City Plan for the city? When is that coming out? Are developers dictating what they want instead of the people? Is that why it is taking so long?
Steve Lackmeyer 10:26 a.m. JIM: Plan OKC is being managed by the Planning Department, led by Aubrey Hammontree. We are developing issue statements at this point in time and anticipate a joint planning commission city council workshop regarding this issue in late spring or summer and there are many stakeholders in this process. Developers are only one of those. If you attended any of the Plan OKC meetings to date, hopefully you feel good about the public participation.
Terry 10:27 a.m. Mr. Couch, What happened in the Planning Department that led to the loss of so many talented planners? What's the current status in finding a new planning director and what kind of process has the City gone thru in searching for the right replacement personnel?
Steve Lackmeyer 10:27 a.m. STEVE: Jim answered the first part of this question already. He is set to answer the second part.
Steve Lackmeyer 10:30 a.m. JIM: The job application process has been closed. We had about 60 applicants. Those are being screened at this point in time. There will be an oral review board set up. The hiring process is the same one used with all hirings other than details involving specific trades. The timeframe to advertise the position was the same with every hiring we do. The same person involved in hiring this position was the one same one who was involved in hiring me 27 years ago. We've used the same process for hiring of executives the past 13 years.
Gary T 10:31 a.m. Jim, why has the city decided to get more engineers to work in places where planners would be better suited?
Steve Lackmeyer 10:32 a.m. JIM: I am unaware of where we would have done that. But, engineers and planners are both important parts of the city process. Though they think differently, both are important to our processes. By the way, my wife thinks I've not practiced engineering long enough that I no longer qualify to be an engineer:
Steve Lackmeyer 10:33 a.m. STEVE: Follow up by me. Jim, could there be more planners involved as decision makers in overseeing how MAPS projects are staged and situated?
Steve Lackmeyer 10:34 a.m. JIM: On my MAPS 3 meetings every Monday morning, the planning director is there in the meeting. A lot of the MAPS 3 subcommittee meetings I attend, there are planners at those meeting. When there are meetings with consultants, planners are often there.
Terry 10:35 a.m. Mr. Couch, I love Bricktown, warts and all, but I get the feeling that few of the owners and merchants are on the same page. What do you think Bricktown needs the most right now to keep it growing and improving?
Steve Lackmeyer 10:37 a.m. JIM: There are a lot of things going on in Bricktown. I think the Gary Brooks development, the Steelyard, will bring some definition to the east end of Bricktown which I think is very important. The hotels will bring seven day a week activity in Bricktown. The restauranteurs tell me the biggest problem they have is the feast and famine they see every year. The housing and hotels will definitely help on that.
Steve Lackmeyer 10:37 a.m. STEVE: Jim is dead-on with this answer. And I am seeing a lot of organizational changes taking place with the increased involvement by Downtown OKC Inc.
Nick 10:38 a.m. Also, Mr. Couch, what happened with the shoddy "repair" work done in the street when the utility work was completed in front of St. Anthony's. The "repairs" made the road worse.
Steve Lackmeyer 10:38 a.m. JIM: I've noticed that myself. It is not acceptable and it needs to be addressed.
Gary T 10:38 a.m. Jim, name one thing you would say is the most challenging part of your job.
Steve Lackmeyer 10:39 a.m. JIM: Surprisingly it's not the financial constraints we have. It's balancing well intentioned desires of competing groups whether its neighborhood associations, council people or developers.
Terry 10:41 a.m. The new opening thru the RR viaduct connecting the Santa Fe station to Bricktown can reinvigorate that western segment of the canal zone. It would be even better if the canal itself could be extended thru the opening as well. I realize the mayor specifically excluded any canal extension in MAPS3, but I believe a western extension into the downtown core should be considered and planned for if possible. I guess what I'm asking is for the City not to cut-off the potential to expand the canal westward even if that extension is years away, such as enlarging the viaduct opening now to allow for the future extension of the canal into the downtown core?
Steve Lackmeyer 10:42 a.m. JIM: I would love to see at some time an expansion of the canal. I'm not convinced west is the best direction, though I would not rule that out. The magic of the canal was to allow an abandoned warehouse district to be reborn. Expansion to the west would take it past public facilities that would not spur more economic development. An opportunity may exist if the Cox Center were to come down.
Terry 10:44 a.m. Has anyone ever asked the police association if they would consider building a large parking garage to replace their numerous at-grade parking lots, thereby freeing up these lots for future development?
Steve Lackmeyer 10:44 a.m. JIM: Not that I am aware of. But the key to any structured parking is to have cash flow. You have to have people paying fees to pay off long term debt.
Steve Lackmeyer 10:45 a.m. JIM: Although it's a great concept, I'm not sure it cashflows.
Steve Lackmeyer 10:45 a.m. STEVE: Developers, figure this out and make your case.
Terry 10:46 a.m. I hope State Senator Loveless has finally found a funding solution to finish the Indian Cultural Center even though the $91 million already spent should have been enough. Now they're looking at spending another $80 million. Somebody sure scored. Even so the Center needs to be completed just to keep the momentum flowing for downtown development. The last thing downtown needs is a rusting and abandoned project overlooking it's approaches, but more than that OKC needs this center to honor the rich Indian heritage in Oklahoma.
Steve Lackmeyer 10:48 a.m. JIM: This has been challenging to say the least. I was heartened by the 21-3 vote by the appropriation committee this week. And I understand this is to go to the full state senate next week. I hope this momentum carries it to completion. I am sure Speaker Hickman will understand the value of this project not just to the city of Oklahoma City but also to the State of Oklahoma.
Terry 10:48 a.m. I'm curious why the Chesapeake Arena made the southwest corner their main entrance with the fancy new facade when most people arrive at the north entrance. Maybe they should do the same to the north entrance.
Steve Lackmeyer 10:49 a.m. JIM: We are antiicipating future development with the convention center, streetcar and the MAPS 3 park. We anticipate you won't have the same feeling after they are constructed.
John 10:50 a.m. Mr.Couch As an out of state consultant I am always surprised and concerned when we interview for a parks,planning or urban design project and the interview is devoid of representation from the appropriate departments. What is the thought behind not involving the experts in the decision making process? I ask because i have not seen this in other large cities and would like to understand how to be more successful in OKC. Thank you
Steve Lackmeyer 10:52 a.m. JIM: Our process requires that the user departments are part of the process. Fortunately, we get many people competing for these jobs and only one can be successful. I would encourage you to meet with the specific departments for a debriefing after the selection process.
Joe 10:52 a.m. Any news on the new Planning or COTPA directors? It seems like these are very significant hires for the future of Oklahoma City.
Steve Lackmeyer 10:53 a.m. JIM: I agree they are both significant hries for the future of Oklahoma City. I anticipate naming a new transit director next week. We have not yet done interviews for the planning director. We're screening applications now.
Joe 10:53 a.m. What is your response to the criticism that planners in Oklahoma City have not had a loud enough voice or even a seat at the table?
Steve Lackmeyer 10:55 a.m. JIM: I truly respect our planning department and planners we have working for us. I think they've done a great job. I value their input. In all public processes we sometimes go with compromise. And sometimes not all recommendations are implemented. An example of that is with urban chickens. Just because recommendations are not adopted does not mean their input is not valuable.
Matthew 10:55 a.m. Sir-Did you fell the CUN-A (Congress on New Urbanism classes recently held at the Skirvin) was worth it to you?
Steve Lackmeyer 10:57 a.m. JIM: Yes. All of the concepts are not immediately implemented across the board in Oklahoma City. As Oklahoma City matures, more and more of these concepts will be adopted. Ten years ago, would you have thought we would have a department of sustainability and a city-supported bike share program? I'm not sure I would have. Change is happening.
Steve Lackmeyer 10:59 a.m. STEVE: This is an opportunity for me to note that in last week's chat I mistakingly answered that Engineer Eric Wenger attended the sessions as well. He was not able to. But in talks we've had, he is clearly getting involved in the new urbanism conversations.
Joe 11:00 a.m. Did you attend the Congress for New Urbanism class provided by ULI? What did you learn? Did it impact or change your thinking on anything?
Steve Lackmeyer 11:01 a.m. JIM: Yes. I appreciated the presentations, I appreciated the material provided and my interaction with people, including many I didn't know. Most of the concepts were not foreign to me, though many were presented in a strongly persuasive manner.
Joe 11:02 a.m. What upcoming project excites you the most?
Steve Lackmeyer 11:03 a.m. JIM: I'm blessed to be excited about a lot of projects coming down the line. The three I mentioned earlier. OCU Law school, and of course further completion and progress with MAPS 3. MAPS 3 will again be transformative for the whole city.
Terry 11:03 a.m. Mr. Couch, A lot of us are concerned the design of the new boulevard will again result in restricted access between the north and south sides of the boulevard because the City may be more concerned with zooming cars out of the area rather than providing a beautiful new avenue into downtown. What do you see the final design looking like?
Steve Lackmeyer 11:04 a.m. JIM: I dont' see this as an either or, I think we need to do both. The heart of it, I think, will look like Project 180 improved Reno.
Joe 11:04 a.m. What do you predict public transit will look like for Oklahoma City in 10 years? Do you see a regional transit authority, more light rail, more bus service happening?
Steve Lackmeyer 11:05 a.m. JIM: I hope I see all of that. I hope I see a regional transit authority, a regional funding source, more rail based transit and more dependable bus system with longer hours and more route frequency.
Guest 11:06 a.m. What are the key steps to setting up passenger train service from the OKC CBD to the Tulsa CBD?
Steve Lackmeyer 11:07 a.m. JIM: I think passenger service from Tulsa to Oklahoma City would be a boost for both cities. As in almost every city in the country, this is not easy. I don't know if the state maintaining control of the Sooner Sub line will ensure a greater possibility of passenger rail returning or the rail going to private hands will allow for more private investment to make it feasible. That's the question.
Guest 11:08 a.m. What is your opinion on the two city councilmen who took the tickets and trip to the cotton bowl from Waste Management? I believe their contract is up later this year or so for a large sum of money. I was glad the Oklahoman had a story on it in the paper a few weeks back To your knowledge was anyone else offered tickets to the game? What is the city's official policy on accepting gifts for councilmen, and or city officials, such as you Mr. Couch? Back to my point though, does anyone truly believe that they can act non bias towards waste management in the future?
Steve Lackmeyer 11:10 a.m. JIM: The municipal counselors office has ruled it was not illegal. Ethical questions are a little more gray. Large contracts like Waste Management go through a proposal process and the successful proposer is usually based on price. I would anticipate that will happen in the futre.
Guest 11:10 a.m. What will you be looking for in the new Planning Director?
Steve Lackmeyer 11:12 a.m. JIM: I think someone who has a lot of the traits the last two planning directors had, though they both had different styles, they both pushed the envelopes to make Oklahoma CIty a better place. They had different styles. John Dugan was quieter in his approach, while Russell Claus was more vocal. Both achieved change.
Steve Lackmeyer 11:12 a.m. STEVE: Jim hired both men as planning directors.
Guest 11:13 a.m. What's the bane of your existence? Seriously, what is the most frustrating thing you have to deal with? Most rewarding?
Steve Lackmeyer 11:15 a.m. JIM: I think the bane of my existance is bureacracy. Though I don't think it's very high in Oklahoma City, and we have less of it than in other cities, it's very frustrating for me. That's hard to answer - there are so many parts to the renassaicne of Oklahoma City. But being a small part of bringing the Thunder to Oklahoma City is very rewarding to me.
Steve Lackmeyer 11:15 a.m. STEVE: Jim is being modest saying "small part."
Guest 11:15 a.m. What led you into city government? Anything else you might have done in another life?
Steve Lackmeyer 11:16 a.m. JIM: I love public construction projects and building long term public improvements. If I wasn't an engineer, I'd probably be an attorney because professional golf isn't going to make it.
Steve Lackmeyer 11:17 a.m. Folks, Jim Couch stayed an extra 20 minutes. He has to attend another appointment. I really appreciate him joining us. I'll stick around for another half hour of so.
Gary T 11:18 a.m. Steve, when did you start doing these chats and can you site one specific story that was spurred from the participant's interest on this chat?
Steve Lackmeyer 11:19 a.m. Gary, you tell me. You've been with us since the start. Maybe two years now? Could have it been that long ago? It's very popular with readers. Yes, I've done stories based on these chats. But my mind can't focus one specifically at the moment.
Gary T 11:19 a.m. It looks like a more permanent Food Truck Court is going to be built on the NW corner of 10th and Harvey, across from Transmissions R Us. Do you have any more info on this? Do you think that means there are more delays on MidtownR reveloping that square block completely?
Steve Lackmeyer 11:19 a.m. Not at this time.
Larry 11:19 a.m. When will there be more choices for upscale housing downtown?
Steve Lackmeyer 11:20 a.m. Upscale? We're probably looking at The Hill continuing to be the main supply for that. Other housing at lower price points is in the works for downtown.
Terry 11:20 a.m. I was disappointed to hear the City received no proposals to build residences on top of the new Civic Center parking garage. The area seems prime for urban residences especially since it's located in the Arts District overlooking Bicentennial Park. Were there any interested parties at all, or was it a total washout?
Steve Lackmeyer 11:21 a.m. The development proposals aren't due until Monday, but yes, my sources tell me it's unlikely we will see any responses to efforts by Urban Renewal to add housing atop the new garage. There have continued to be new parties asking for these proposals to go out each of these third rounds, but when it comes down to number crunching, the math simply hasn't worked out right.
Terry 11:22 a.m. Other than the Rock Island Plow and Mercantile buildings what other Bricktown buildings have plans to build out their upper floors or have already done so? With the low vacancy rate of downtown office space and high demand for downtown residences you'd think these buildings would be prime for conversion into loft residences or offices. Is it just harder to redevelop the upper floors of these old buildings making the owners unwilling to hassle with it or do they find this space useful for other uses such as storage?
Steve Lackmeyer 11:23 a.m. Brent Brewer remains very interested in developing the upper floors of the Hunzicker building (where Captain Norm's and Peachwave Frozen Yogurt are located). I also see momentum building for development of a couple of other structures, though nothing is for sure.
Terry 11:23 a.m. I hope to see the Boathouse District continue to grow this year. I know UCO plans to start construction on their boathouse this spring, but do you know when OU is planning to build theirs? Also has the zip-line been installed and when are they planning on building the grandstand?
Steve Lackmeyer 11:25 a.m. OU is close to making some announcements on their upcoming schedule. I think the zip-line goes live this year. I'm not certain on the schedule for the grandstands - it's scheduled to be built after the white water venue, which begins construction later this year.
Guest 11:25 a.m. Have you ever heard of "Clock Tower Beach" in Montreal? It is amazing how they made a small beach area and boardwalk along the river there. With the Core to Shore and river development going on I think this would be simply amazing in OKC and could absolutely work here that would attract locals and tourists alike. It could be incorporated in a MAPS project and would make our CTS, River, Bricktown and Park truly world class. It would be great for businesses wanting to locate here because we will be viewed as an even more desirable place to live (something that has always hurt us in the past. What do you think about this and how can someone present this and to whom? I will try to provide a link but if it doesn't work, hope everyone googles it and maybe start a topic on OKC forum to discuss further. Simply and amazing idea for our city and one that can be done in my opinion.
RowerBrandon 11:25 a.m. Happy Friday Steve! Last Saturday I went my first Baron's game and had an absolute blast, but I was severely disappointed in the amount of fans in the stands. The Barons are a great hockey team and need as much support from this city as the Thunder can get it. They already have a immense amount of promotions and giveaways to help draw crowds but are still struggling. The Blazers had the highest attendance in their league for many years so I know it is possible for the Barons to get the same. What do you recommend to help with turnout to these games, or as a citizen myself to help support our local team?
Steve Lackmeyer 11:26 a.m. The Blazers attendance was also highly inflated with give-away tickets that undermined the franchise's profitability. Our sports guys have had some great articles on this topic the past few weeks, and the underlying theme is Bob Funk Jr. is being patient and trying to build a good franchise from the ground up.
Steve Lackmeyer 11:28 a.m. As for recommendations to improve attendance, I would suggest the Barons work more on connecting to the community. Get the players out more, get the mascot out more at area events, get more active on social media, and find ways to bring back hardcore Blazers fans.
soonerred 11:28 a.m. Seeing your article on the lost buildings in Okc was a great article. Most of the citizens believe OKC was left on the side of the road by the great suburb visionaries of the 60s & 70s. Surely the city can learn from the blunders of the past. As you know, there were over 500 buildings torn down.What a tragedy.
Gary T 11:28 a.m. When will we see more of an exterior transformation on the Century Center?
Steve Lackmeyer 11:28 a.m. Soon.
Guest 11:28 a.m. How many lanes will there be on EK Gaylord in front of the Santa Fe Station?
Steve Lackmeyer 11:28 a.m. If I recall correctly, it will go to two lanes.
Guest 11:29 a.m. Steve: How did you swing getting Jim on? Anybody else upcoming?
Steve Lackmeyer 11:29 a.m. Jim actually approached me. We had a great chat this morning, and I hope we might do it again someday.
hurley 11:29 a.m. Steve or Jim. Driving by downtown yesterday I saw a couple cranes over by bass pro in the area where the boulevard should be, are they starting on the eastern section of it or are the cranes for a different project?
Steve Lackmeyer 11:29 a.m. Yes, work has begun on the east end of the boulevard.
Guest 11:30 a.m. Like the old saying goes, you make hay when their is sunshine. OKC has one of the lnation's lowest employment rates and has several projects that are year from even being started. Why wait so long to get the Convention Center and Hotel? By that time, Bricktown will have 2-3 more average hotels and then the demand might not be there for a big full service hotel. Same with the CTS, Park, and Boulevard. It is frustrating that others cities dream big and have great ideas while our city always seems to go the the cheapest route and nothing spectacular (except Devon). We are happy from where we are but tired of average, why can't be be great and a place that wows people and entices business' to WANT to come here and become a destination rather than a drive by or flyover city. We NEED something major or we will always be what we are- average. I applaud all that's been done but we need to let some of these young people share their ideas and become major league and great. We need an Austin City Limits like music scene at the new park, an amazing vital river and bricktown, and lastly, why not try to become Hollywood in OKC. We can offer them incentives to make movies here far cheaper than they could elsewhere yet we will probably let that slip. We need leaders that will think big and about the future rather what has held us back for years while other cities explode.
hurley 11:30 a.m. What is the current status on the Fred Jones building? Does 21C have a timetable for renovations? I could be wrong but I think the parts department is still in part of the building but I wonder when they will move out as well?
Steve Lackmeyer 11:30 a.m. I'll have an update soon.
tired of developers 11:30 a.m. Are there any plans to revitalize the center city areas not directly adjacent to downtown ( such as out near Cleveland, Miller, Venice neighborhoods)? It looks like May Ave may be getting sidewalks, but what about the medians, etc?
Steve Lackmeyer 11:31 a.m. This is a great question. I'm not sure I can fully answer it at this time. You've given me something to chew into.
Nick Emenhiser 11:31 a.m. By the way Jim, this is very cool for you to join us here, and we all appreciate you taking the time to answer our concerns. We hope to do it again? :)
Steve Lackmeyer 11:31 a.m. I'll pass this along to Jim.
hurley 11:31 a.m. Has there been any thought to changing an ordinance or something that would require developers to 4 lane roads out in areas like deer creek? The 2 lane roads are already packed and the city is spread thin it seems in getting them 4 lane and it would allow the city to concentrate on maintaining more of the inner city roads? I believe several cities have policies like this.
Nick 11:32 a.m. Mr. Couch, I don't mean this as antagonistically as it may come off, because I'm truly curious, but how is work like that in front of St. Anthony's allowed to happen in the first place? Should we not demand better as a city?
Steve Lackmeyer 11:32 a.m. Nick, Jim is no longer here, but I can tell you that occurred during the Paul Brum era.
Ronaldo 11:33 a.m. As far as the MAPS meetings. They planners might attend the meetings but from what I have seen they say nothing and have no input on projects. The Central Park had 0 input from the planners or city landscape architects. ZERO!
John 11:34 a.m. Jim, personally I do not think the crosstown blvd needs to take any traffic counts into consideration. only during about 15 minutes in the morning and afternoon does traffic become even a mild issue in okc, and even then it is quickly dissipated. Do you genuinely believe we need another artery out of the city? At all other times of the day it is a breeze to get anywhere downtown. Please don't take offense but I think your generational mindset is begging to show a bit
steve 11:34 a.m. steve, any news on the city and the rail road settlement so bricktown landing can open
Steve Lackmeyer 11:34 a.m. Both sides are still working on a resolution.
Motley 11:34 a.m. When you look at other cities, which ones do you admire and compare to the potential of OKC, and can you name any particular developments in them that inspire you?
Steve Lackmeyer 11:36 a.m. Kansas City is doing a lot of things right these days. Wichita has some great retail in Old Town that has eluded Bricktown. I greatly admire Guthire Greens in Tulsa. I am less and less impressed and enthused by what I see in Dallas, especially Victory, which is an unmitigated 21st century urban extravaganza nightmare.
Terry 11:37 a.m. Steve, I know you've been somewhat critical of Rand Elliott's recently completed Bicentennial Park design and why the need for the wholesale removal of all the mature trees that once graced it. As a result few people are currently using it. However, I believe use of the park will rebound once the new landscaping and trees have matured. Also, since it's winter, more people will show up once the spring flowers and leaves on the new trees begin to bloom. Over time, I believe the park will again become a popular hangout for folks more so due to it's location rather than it's design. It also wouldn't hurt if they went back to it's previous name “Civic Center Park” rather than “Bicentennial Park” which no one can relate to.
Steve Lackmeyer 11:38 a.m. I think it would be great to bring back the Civic Center Park name. As for the design - I rarely see people in the park. It's not getting used on a day-to-day basis. People look at it, say its pretty, but they're not gathering there.
Gary T 11:39 a.m. Steve, I think it has been about two years and it feels like you have done a ton of updates based on our questions on OKC Central. Usually the DOK articles are for bigger stories and I think there are probably too many to name that came from this forum. Thanks again for all that you do.
George 11:39 a.m. Steve was Ed Shadid at the transit hub dedication this week?
Steve Lackmeyer 11:39 a.m. Yes.
Linda 11:39 a.m. We are nearing retirement age and would love to move downtown since we have Thunder season tickets and Broadway show tickets, but will there ever be AFFORDABLE condos or residences built? I know it's all about location, location,location, but would like to see something available that is not so high priced.
Steve Lackmeyer 11:39 a.m. Yes.
George 11:39 a.m. Steve, do you think the transit hub will be successful in being a transit hub? Did you take away anything new from the event this week?
Steve Lackmeyer 11:40 a.m. It won't be easy. But yes, it's doable. Design and planning will be paramount.
George 11:40 a.m. Steve, Jim was an A+ chat guest and hope he does it again someday. Who right now is at the top of the list of people you want to bring into the chat sometime?
Steve Lackmeyer 11:41 a.m. I'd love to get Gary Brooks, Mark Beffort and Hans Butzer. My dream guest? Larry Nichols.
George 11:41 a.m. Steve now than appeal has been filed, how long do you think it will be before it is all settled and ground breaks on stage center?
Steve Lackmeyer 11:42 a.m. Depends on how the Board of Adjustment rules next month, and whether this goes to district court.
George 11:42 a.m. Steve if you could pick anything to be a co tenant with opubco downtown what would it be?
Steve Lackmeyer 11:43 a.m. A 24/7 major drug store chain and a Corner Bakery/Panera Bread. Ah, to dream.
George 11:43 a.m. Steve, I think Jim's mind set about traffic flow in and out of downtown is just a by product of the generation he grew up in. Do you think it would be possible for him to fundamentally change the way he sees the city and how we are supposed to interact with it?
Steve Lackmeyer 11:44 a.m. I've seen changes in thinking just the past couple of years.
Park Dweller 11:44 a.m. To add to the Bicentennial Park conversation... events like Starlight Supper (happening on April 10th this year) are bringing more attention to the park and helping activate the space. This is a great start.
steve 11:44 a.m. any news on the big downtown retail that would make dallas jealous
Steve Lackmeyer 11:44 a.m. I'm am increasingly hopeful it will become a reality.
George 11:44 a.m. Steve, you have been quite the advocate that okc is placing too much power in the hands of engineers. Have taken this up with Jim beyond the chat? Did you press him on questions while you guys were doing the chat? Has your opinion changed now? thanks!
Steve Lackmeyer 11:45 a.m. I think it's an ongoing conversation.
George 11:45 a.m. Steve, next time you need to warn Jim these always take at least 2 hours!
George 11:45 a.m. Steve if you had Jim's job what would be the first thing you would do on day 1?
Steve Lackmeyer 11:45 a.m. Demand to know why someone gave me the job.
Steve Lackmeyer 11:47 a.m. OK folks, That's it. I'm talking with Kristy Yeager, the city's PIO. She, Zack, Josh and the crew have been great hosts this morning. I'm copying all of the unposted questions for Jim Couch and we may be able to get answered later and posted at OKC Central. Kristy says she wants us back. I eagerly accept.
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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