Oh yeah, we’ve been waiting for it, waiting for it, waiting for it…
Well, maybe not. But it sure does make for a great headline to knock up my blog traffic numbers (I can’t begin to say how daunting it is to be beaten day after day by blogs dominated by celebrity photos!)
In this case, it’s Blair Humphreys, son of Kirk Humphreys, taking on comments by Casey Cornett, son of Mick Cornett.
Yeah, it’s a cheap stunt on my behalf. And I like both guys. I like both dads. So I’m pretty much a mercenary here, sitting on the sidelines enjoying a good debate and doing my best Don King impersonation (sans the hair).
So lets rumble!
Here’s what Casey has to say following Jeff Speck’s presentation:
The sad thing i’m starting to notice is that all the people who are strongly for greenspace are still focusing their efforts towards the 1 square block of privately owned and privately funded Chamber building going in at 4th and EK Gaylord. Hasn’t that already been approved and moved on? Sure, there is still another (I believe just 1) date set on the beautification aspect of that space…but the building is still going there, let’s move on. The core-to-shore project will be bring roughly 20-square blocks of greenspace. Why can’t greenspace lovers and journalists focus on what has yet not been decided on instead of still arguing over the 1-square block to argue over. That block is done, it was a good fight to keep it. But now let’s join together and make sure we don’t miss the boat on another big greensapce opportunity.
Now that’s a pretty strong starting argument. But not good enough for Blair, who has been asking a lot of questions about this proposed chamber site for months:
I am curious about the position you take on the Chamber Building, telling everyone to “move on”. It seems like someone enthused by Speck’s ideas wouldn’t be so quick to look past a project that will permanently hinder walkability at a critical connection in a burgeoning area of downtown. Speck himself has commented on the poor site layout of the Chamber proposal and every OKC urbanist that has expressed a position on the issue either questions the design and/or the way it was ushered through review despite violating the downtown design guidelines.
Simplifying the matter as being only about the quantity of green space doesn’t seem fair. Ultimately the underlying issues have more to do with walkability and good urbanism than green space, and the current Chamber proposal fails to deliver either. Still, even within this simplistic framework, the idea that the Central Park will benefit the people in NE downtown the way a properly designed Chamber site would is certainly not true. Quantity matters, but surely location is still a variable worth considering. How will a new Central Park over 1/2 mile away serve people in the same way that a park across the street would?
Casey, I’m waiting for you to respond… (I am so, so, so bad! Why am I being so feisty these days??)
Public libraries: Poor hygiene might get you tossed
Schaumburg Township District Library adds ‘offensive bodily odors’ to its prohibitions
By John Keilman | Tribune reporter
April 13, 2009
Patrons of the Schaumburg Township District Library have never been allowed to bring in the noise. Now they can’t bring in the funk.
The library recently added “offensive bodily odors” to its list of prohibitions, joining more traditional no-nos such as running, rowdiness or toting an uncovered beverage.
Director Stephanie Sarnoff said the aroma would have to be so overpowering that it interfered with others’ use of the facility. And while the policy stemmed from complaints about an apparently homeless person, Sarnoff said it would apply just as much to an overuse of perfume as an underuse of soap.
“People who use libraries are usually very understanding about the foibles of others,” she said. “So when one or more library users complain that another person’s hygiene is of such poor quality that it is prohibiting them from pursuing what they want to do, their problem becomes our problem.”
Read the rest of the story here.
So what is a deadline? That’s the question I’m still asking on several fronts. Let’s just tackle one today - April 20 – the time in which Downtown Oklahoma City Inc. hopes to present to the business improvement district board a plan for renewal.
First, we must address whether this day is even a deadline. After talking to Jane Jenkins, one gets the impression it’s not a deadline, but rather a date in which she hopes to be able to present a plan and start the process of molding and shaping it for an eventual vote.
Some property owners I’ve spoken to in various districts seem to have a different impression of this date, that it sets in concrete whether an area participates and what that participation will be.
Jane Jenkins, however, says this isn’t the case – that if an area needs more time to decide whether it wants to participate, it will be allowed that extra time – though not indefinitely.
Likewise, Jenkins says that an area agreeing to be a part of the BID renewal isn’t committing yet to how much it will be assessed or how that money will be spent.
Time, however, is ticking. The consultant, Brad Segal, was hired last year shortly before Brett Hamm stepped down as president of Downtown Oklahoma City Inc. I was told at the time by David Rainbolt, BID board chairman, and by Segal that his continuing to work on the renewal without a DOKC president would not be a problem.
Today Jane Jenkins tells me that she’s still working very hard to get caught up with all the intricacies of downtown and the BID. She adds, however, that with her experience with other BIDs she’s not worried about the timeline ahead for the downtown OKC district to be renewed. She also adds that Segal’s contract is winding down and that is a consideration for wrapping this deal up.
So, I ask, is the consultant partially driving this process? In response I hear that DOKC is well equipped to move forward and get this wrapped up.
The district, by the way, is not up for renewal until 2011. I’ve heard questions and concerns about April 20 from prominent players in three different downtown districts. Jenkins and DOKC’s director of operations, Kathy Ford-Wallis, both say they’ve not heard any such concern or question.
So to those I’ve heard from, here’s the bottom line: Jane Jenkins said, and I repeated it to her to ensure I understood, that failure by an area to agree to participate in the renewed BID by April 20 will not translate into a decision to not participate. April 20, she says, is not a deadline and there will be no votes concerning the BID renewal at that week’s business improvement district board meeting.
Those words from Jeff Speck, hired to advise the city on making downtown more walkable, keep echoing in mind. Will city leaders follow up on Jeff Speck’s recommendations? Or will critics prevail in their thinking that Speck is prone to exaggeration and his ideas should be taken with a grain of salt?
I don’t know.
But I do know this. I do know that the following photo was not staged when it was taken by one of The Oklahoman’s best, Jim Beckel:
This stretch of Hudson crosses through an area populated with venues that draw young and old on a daily basis. We’re talking about the downtown library, the Myriad Gardens, Stage Center, the Oklahoma County Courthouse, the Oklahoma City Museum of Art and City Hall.
Consider Jeff Speck’s warning – no real change will take place without a strong, clear mandate from the city council that downtown streets and sidewalks can no longer be the chief consideration for city traffic planners. And then watch this controversial video from the U.K. (Beware – it’s disturbing and not pleasant):
Is this a horrible scare tactic on my behalf? Maybe. The video was provided to me by someone who thinks Jeff Speck shouldn’t be quickly dismissed. I’ll leave it for you to judge whether it relates to this conversation.
Let’s close this post with one of several stories I could pull from The Oklahoman’s archives:
Longtime city attorney struck, killed in accident
By Ty Mcmahan
Thursday, June 29, 2006
Edition: CITY, Section: NEWS, Page 15A
A longtime Oklahoma City attorney was struck by a car and died Wednesday outside the Oklahoma County Courthouse.
David Shumake, 80, was walking across the street at about 8:45 a.m. at Harvey and Robert S. Kerr when a car hit him and threw him into the air. He landed on his head and was pronounced dead three hours later, according to his law partner.
Shumake had practiced law in Oklahoma City for more than 50 years, said Doug Hilbert, his partner.
“He was a good attorney — just a very special guy,” he said.
Hilbert said Shumake was walking to the courthouse to visit a judge. A police officer returned a file to Hilbert that Shumake had been carrying.
“He said it was all over the street,” Hilbert said.
Police also told Hilbert the driver was not cited, he said.
Shumake received his law degree from the University of Oklahoma in 1950. He became a lawyer later that year. Hilbert said his partner specialized in real estate matters.
Shumake’s passion was boating, his partner said. He was involved with the United States Power Squadron, a nonprofit, educational organization dedicated to making boating safer and more enjoyable by teaching classes in seamanship, navigation and related subjects.
“He just enjoyed getting on blue water,” Hilbert said. “He would go near South America and go boating. He would go down there for a couple of weeks. He loved it.”
Hilbert said Shumake is survived by two sons.
I’m very fortunate that I get to cover what I enjoy. Of late, however, it seems like I’ve been too busy cranking out stories, blog posts and videos – all at the expense of hitting the streets and spending time learning what’s about to happen next.
That’s why Friday was so great. I didn’t have a single story to crank out this one day, and I was actually in a position where I’m relatively caught up on work.
So what did I learn?
I learned that John at Prairie Thunder Bakery in MidTown is working long hours, but he’s doing quite well. And if you like the pastries at Coffee Slingers on Broadway, well, they came from John.
The Neighbors family, meanwhile, are busy thinking up ways to continue downtown’s momentum within what Steve Mason would call the Neighbors’ “sphere of influence.”
By the way, Steve is celebrating completion of the tax credit applications and approval of work done at 1015 N Broadway. The building, home to Coffee Slingers, is fully leased. Steve is also continuing to develop NW 9th.
Bricktown was pretty busy on Friday as fans poured in early to catch the final home game for the Thunder. I was happy to run into an old college friend and roommate, Michael Hayes. He had an extra ticket and asked if I wanted to join him – but after working two nights this week, it was important I return home and spend some time with my kids.
I’ve got to wonder how things will progress with Jeff Speck’s recommendations. He has a lot of folks excited about the prospect of making downtown more walkable. But not everybody at City Hall is comfortable with what he has to say. Indeed, they are correct in pointing out he’s made some big mistakes – he called dismantling of city requirements for parking downtown. But the city doesn’t have parking requirements downtown. The city has also been pretty responsive to eliminating obstructions to mixed use development.
But those criticisms aside (I’m wondering if Speck is screening his presentations with trusted locals before his public talks), it’s difficult to simply dismiss Speck’s recommendations.
I’m beginning to look forward to this year’s deadCENTER Film Festival. With the chamber headquarters construction on hold, the triangle at NW 4 and Broadway remains available for screenings against the BNSF viaduct wall. With housing now just around the corner and construction around the area cleared, I can’t think of a better outdoor venue for this festival.
Now, if you’ve gotten this far with my random thoughts, here’s the pay-off: there’s a very, very good chance that Sage in Deep Deuce will be starting a soft opening this next week. Metro, please stay away and withhold your reviews until we know these folks have gotten things under control.
Michael Murphy’s Dueling Pianos in Bricktown. Yes, really. Can anyone offer a review of Brix or America’s Pub?
We know the city is in a big hurry to get things moving with Core to Shore. They’ve bought the Salvation Army building, they’ve bought the post office, they’re seeking designers for a central park.
Will they move just as quickly on downtown’s needs?
I’m not a guy who does a lot of crying about deadlines. They’re a part of my job on a daily basis. But sometimes you’ve got to wonder about the timing.
When it comes to City Hall, I’ve heard people complain, usually after the deadline has passed, that the date was set in order to skew the results for a particular vendor, developer or contract bidder.
It’s also not unheard of to hear of complaints that requests for proposals are written to favor one bidder over others.
Now here’s something interesting: I’ve stumbled across a request for proposals for the Core to Shore central park design. Response time? It looks to be about two weeks.
Get ready City Hall. I’m coming calling with some questions.
UPDATE: I’m getting conflicting info on all this. Is it simply a deadline to express interest or is it something more? I hope to find out for sure on Monday.
So far back does the debate go on one-way/two-way traffic downtown? Would you believe 87 years? My friend and co-author Jack Money tells the story.
The final Jeff Speck video – Jeff discusses his outlook and ideas for downtown: