Mayor Cornett calls for large central park, mass transit upgrades

Published: Friday, January 16, 2009 7:00 am By: Brian Brus
trails, beautification and sidewalks were also cited at the time.

The first MAPS was approved by public vote in 1993 when residents established a 1-cent, five-year sales tax to fund nine projects, including the construction of the Bricktown Ballpark, renovation of the Cox Business Services Convention Center, and development of the Oklahoma River. The second MAPS, which stood for Metropolitan Area Public Schools, kept that penny in play when voters passed two initiatives to fund local school districts. Seventy percent of revenue generated from the sales tax went to Oklahoma City Public Schools for the construction of new buildings, technology and other improvements.

Action on a MAPS-3 plan, which many expected last year, was delayed when voters passed a $120 million temporary sales tax for massive remodeling of the Ford Center downtown to improve chances of luring an NBA team to the city. City leaders had originally intended to include arena upgrades in a larger MAPS-like package of developments. But because of the short deadline for the NBA board's decision, the arena question was pushed ahead of schedule.

Cornett said Wednesday that assuming the new I-40 Crosstown will be complete in 2012 as planned and the old Interstate razed and rebuilt as a new main street boulevard into downtown by 2014, a park in the heart of the city needs to be ready within five years. And to make that deadline, funding must be decided soon. Similar long-term planning is necessary for other major projects as well.

"MAPS has been the vehicle for our progress, and it should remain so," he said. "But exactly 'when' we move forward is less clear, and that's the conversation we'll be having over the course of the next few months. We will come to a community consensus no later than the end of this coming summer."

"I believe that 2008 is a year we will look back on and say that Oklahoma City discovered who it was. And with that knowledge comes the freedom to be the great city we can be," he said. "This is a city that is reinventing itself. ... The next 10 years are shaping up to hold opportunities that are bigger and better than anything we've done."

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