Oklahoma City MAPS out big plans

BY BRYAN DEAN Modified: September 18, 2009 at 4:56 am •  Published: September 18, 2009
A $777 million MAPS 3 plan unveiled by Oklahoma City Mayor Mick Cornett on Thursday certainly matches the ambition of its predecessors.

Now it’s up to Oklahoma City voters to determine whether the plan matches their own ideas for Oklahoma City’s future.

City council members are expected to vote Tuesday to put MAPS 3 on the ballot Dec. 8.

The plan unveiled Thursday by Cornett and council members includes a massive downtown park, a new convention center, transit improvements such as a downtown streetcar and commuter rail system, Oklahoma River improvements, renovations at State Fair Park, health and wellness aquatic centers for senior citizens, 57 new miles of bicycle and pedestrian trails and money for new sidewalks.

It would establish a 1-cent sales tax for seven years. The tax would go into effect April 1 as the current temporary 1-cent sales tax funding Ford Center improvements expires. The sales tax rate would not change.

Cornett said it is a mistake for anyone to assume voters will rubber-stamp MAPS 3 because of the name it carries. Voters have approved two previous MAPS proposals.

"The city is just so fundamentally different from the past MAPS initiatives. I don’t think they are much of a guide for us,” Cornett said. "I think the citizens are going to look at this with a very discerning eye. Each of these projects is going to have to stand on its own.”

In 2007, the city conducted an Internet survey asking people if the city should go forward with a MAPS 3 and what the plan should include. The response overwhelmingly supported a MAPS 3. Including MAPS 3 and other city initiatives, 12 of the top 14 ideas cited in the survey will have been addressed.

"I would say transit and the park are the two things that this city most lacks,” Cornett said.



AT A GLANCE: MAPS 3 DETAILS

Downtown park, $130 million

A 70-acre park, shown above in an artist’s rendering, is planned along downtown’s southern edge, between the Oklahoma River and a planned boulevard which will replace the existing Interstate 40 Crosstown Expressway when it is relocated. The park would include a cafe, a lake and other amenities. City leaders compare the idea to Discovery Park in Houston, Millennium Park in Chicago and Centennial Park in Atlanta.

Convention center, $280 million

A new convention center is planned on the south edge of downtown near the planned downtown park. The new convention center will replace the Cox Convention Center, shown above, which opened in 1971. The new center will include exhibit halls, meeting rooms, ballrooms and parking.

Transit, $130 million

The money would pay for five to six miles of downtown streetcar lines and a downtown transit hub which will link streetcar, commuter rail and bus systems. Some money could also be used for building commuter rail lines, but the city is also seeking federal transportation money for commuter rail.

Oklahoma River, $60 million

About $25 million would go toward a whitewater kayaking venue. The exact location of that venue has not been chosen. The rest of the money would go toward improvements on the east end of the river where the city hosts rowing competitions. Those improvements include grandstands, lighting, parking, a floating stage, river beautification and other work on the rowing course.

State Fair Park, $60 million

The money would be used to upgrade public buildings at State Fair Park. Fair officials are in the midst of a $75 million overhaul of State Fair Park’s horse barns and State Fair Arena. MAPS money would be used for the other buildings at the fairgrounds such as exhibit space and meeting halls used during the fair each year.

Health and wellness aquatic centers for senior citizens, $50 million

An undetermined number of the centers would be built across the city. City officials have not said exactly where the centers will be located.

Trails, $40 million

A master plan calling for additional bicycle and walking trails all across the city has been largely unfunded. This money would pay for 57 miles of new trails, virtually completing the city’s trails plan.

Sidewalks, $10 million

Following up on the 2007 bond issue, which included $68 million for sidewalks, MAPS 3 will include money for sidewalks along major streets and near public buildings such as schools and libraries.

Other, $17 million

Contingency funds.



AT A GLANCE: MAPS LEGACY

Metropolitan Area Projects (MAPS)

Passed: 1993

Tax: A 1-cent sales tax over five years. Voters approved a six-month extension to the tax in 1998 to finish off the projects.

Money raised: $363 million

Projects included: The Ford Center, AT&T Bricktown Ballpark, Bricktown Canal, Oklahoma River improvements, downtown trolleys, renovation of the Cox Convention Center, renovation of the Civic Center Music Hall, Ronald J. Norick Downtown Library, and State Fair Park improvements.

Metropolitan Area Public Schools (MAPS for Kids)

Passed: 2001

Tax: A 1-cent sales tax for seven years and a school bond issue.

Money raised: $714 million

Projects included: Work is ongoing. Every school in the Oklahoma City district will either be rebuilt or renovated when the project is complete. Suburban districts located at least partially within Oklahoma City limits also received money from MAPS for Kids, which went for capital projects.

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