I knew it came close. I didn’t realize that destruction was flying above everything I cherish. Thank you God is all I can say.
On Tuesday (was that really yesterday?) I revealed in my Main Street column that a wide array of downtown leaders are seeking to add a potential Bricktown Canal extension to the discussion of what’s next for downtown.
These folks are not insisting that funding be provided for such a project or that it be a part of a possible MAPS 3. Instead, there is a growing awareness of significant planning for the future and proponents say they’d like to at least see a canal extension given serious consideration.
The chief reasoning appears to be the potential of making the canal a major pedestrian thoroughfare. Interestingly enough, the city has quietly retained the respect author and planner Jeff Speck to look at improving pedestrian access downtown.
Now here’s a big secret I’ll share about how consultants typically conduct their research: they are given marching orders by their employer (in this case it would be city staff) and that’s that. All too often I’ve seen consultants’ reports disappoint various interested parties – and at the root of it all seems to be a tendency by consultants to simply come up with what they think the clients want.
Jeff Speck, by the way, is not your typical consultant. He’s the guy who first introduced himself to Oklahoma City a couple of years ago by addressing a crowd with the introduction of “your codes are bad.”
How presumptious. How dare he. How brilliant.
Everyone in the room laughed and nobody disagreed.
So here’s hoping that Jeff remains presumptious. And here’s a copy of the resolution Urban Neighbors passed that explains why it, the All Sports Association, the Bricktown Association and several other leading downtown organizations and leaders are spending a lot of time and effort trying to get the canal extension idea into the discussion of downtown’s future:
Resolution of Endorsement
January 29, 2009
The Urban Neighbors Board of Directors voted to support the city’s original plans of extending the canal west between the Ford and Cox Center. The Urban Neighbors Board is encouraging the city of Oklahoma City to consider this idea as plans are made for downtown development. Potentially connecting the canal into the Myriad Gardens would provide a much desired connectivity.
As plans are developed for the future of downtown Oklahoma City, the Urban Neighbors Board believes that a canal extension would play a vital role in connecting Bricktown to the Oklahoma River, Central Business District, Ford and Cox Centers, the Myriad Gardens, the new Devon
Tower and the proposed new convention center and hotel. Additionally, this extension would significantly improve the walkability of downtown OKC, a key asset for any downtown.With this extension, downtown residents would enjoy an enhanced quality of life with improved access to Bricktown and the Oklahoma River.
Additionally, easier access to downtown green space, both old and new, would be an asset. The Urban Neighbors Board prefaces its support with a desire for such a plan to be incorporated into an overall master plan for the area affected and that timing of such an improvement be appropriate to overall connectivity plans within the downtown area.
A canal extension would provide the following key connections:
- Proposed convention center and hotel to Bricktown and the Oklahoma River.
- CBD and Devon Tower to Bricktown to the Oklahoma River.
- Myriad Botanical Gardens to Bricktown and the Oklahoma River.
- Core to Shore area to Bricktown and Oklahoma River
- Ford and Cox Centers to Bricktown
- Meridian Hotel corridor to Myriad Botanical Gardens, Arts District and CBD
A canal extension benefits:
- Downtown residents
- Myriad Botanical Gardens
- Ford Center, Cox Center, plus their tenants and users
- Central Business District businesses and workers
- Bricktown District
- Arts District
- Boathouse community
- River users
- OKC Convention and Visitors Bureau, convention industry
- OKC Chamber, business recruitment specialists and those who market
- Sporting event promoters
- Future Core to Shore businesses and residents
- Downtown hotels
- Meridian Avenue hoteliers and guests
- Downtown event attendees
- Mayor Cornett’s fit city initiative
- Oklahoma City taxpayers
This extension would fundamentally change the canal from an attraction to a pedestrian thoroughfare. It would create a situation where the canal is a preferred walking route rather than a place that has to be sought out. As pedestrian counts increase exponentially, canal development would be almost certain to follow.
We, the Board of Directors of Urban Neighbors, representing key stakeholders of our downtown, urge all of the beneficiary parties identified in this document to join us in supporting the inclusion of a canal extension in all future plans for downtown development.