Tom Elmore picks up on an old thread at www.okctalk.com today about the old railway depots downtown, and also recalls how railroad buffs who helped fight for preservation of the Walnut Avenue bridge weren’t invited to the grand opening of the rebuilt structure that links Bricktown and Deep Deuce.
I remember that day very well. City officials also chose to ignore the efforts of preservationists like Randy Floyd, who put in tremendous amounts of time fighting an effort by then City Engineer Paul Brum to raze the bridge and replace it with an at-grade crossing.
The city instead chose that day to honor Dr. G.E. Finley, who was a leader in nearby Deep Deuce but had nothing to do with the bridge’s history or preservation.
It was said that Paul Brum was more powerful than than the mayor or city manager. And while not naming names, I heard two mayors say just that. During my stint covering City Hall, it was always interesting to see projects like the new roads and intersections serving the Belle Isle shopping center completed rather quickly, while other projects – like the bridge and the conversion of downtown streets to two ways (now getting done eight years after they scheduled) drag on and on.
Were folks like Tom and Randy left off the guest list on purpose? It’s history now, but I wonder if it would be any different today?
And one last thought: over the years we’ve seen a small group of people fight to preserve landmark properties that weren’t always popular with the masses. While it seems everyone loves the Skirvin, attitudes were mixed on the Gold Dome (saved), the Walnut Avenue Bridge (saved), and the old YMCA (lost forever).
The names of the “building huggers” include Randy Floyd, Michael Smith, Marva Ellard, Todd Scott (he has since moved away), and Lisa Chronister (whom I also believe has moved away).
They’ve been quiet lately, and Randy Floyd, Michael Smith and Marva Ellard have all transitioned from protesting demolitions to redeveloping old properties.
Will a new generation rise up to take their place? Expect some properties with significant histories to be targeted for demolition soon. The question is, will anyone speak out?