Today’s first Downtown OKC 2020 guest blogger is Casey Cornett. I’ve asked more than two dozen people to participate in this experiment. One cannot avoid notice that Casey does share the mayor’s last name, and yes, he is his son. But Casey is someone who truly lives, works and plays downtown.
And his blog is a good daily read – and provides a glimpse of what’s it like to be young and full of hope for what’s to come downtown. And like his dad, no matter whether you agree with him or not, he’s a hard guy to dislike.
Steve Lackmeyer asked me to write a bit about “What should downtown Oklahoma City look like in 2020, and how can this vision be best achieved?” After rereading the question a couple times I began to notice a gap in the word “should” to the word I wanted to use…”could.”
Downtown Oklahoma City will undoubtedly look different; especially by bringing a more impressive skyline with Devon’s 54-story skyscraper and leveling the offensive crosstown bridge and shipping it off to a resting place not to be missed.
I could go on all day long on what I want downtown to look like in 2020 and could dream-up some ideas on what it could be…but let’s stick to the question, “What should downtown Oklahoma City look like…” Not sure if I’m the right person to ask, but I’ll at least give you a glimpse on what I should be doing in Downtown OKC in 2020.
As I gaze into my polished crystal ball I see myself hoping off the cable car at the stop off Sheridan between Harvey and Hudson and starring up at the iconic skyscraper and shielding my eyes from its glass reflection. Watching the cable car scoot on down Sheridian I scurry across the street into the Myriad Gardens immediately noticing how shiny the Crystal Bridge has become…the scrubbing and cleansing the outside has received over the past decade really helped in getting rid of all the gunk due to all the neglect from the two decades previous; which left it anything but “crystal.”
Heading farther south through ‘The Gardens’ my dog, “Reina” starts to bark at all the squirrels and geese that have started to plant themselves in the area due to the Core to Shore initiative passed roughly 10 years beforehand. Pulling on the leash and retracting Reina from his jubilee we trot on through the park, passing the street musicians and kiosk stands selling fruit and souvenior hats with “405″ across the front and the occasional “I (heart) OKC” shirts.
After the quick mile jog we get down to the river and I let Reina loose in the dog park off the river front and sit on the bank gazing off over the river at the 100,000-light ferris wheel and reflect over how anxious I was to find out more info about this Santa Monica Ferris Wheel once I read about its purchase online back in the summer of 2008 at a friend’s apartment in Edmond (can’t believe I chose to live in Edmond).
Whistling over to Reina and putting the leash back on him we head on back over the Skydance Bridge towards the rustling and bustling roar of a downtown finally stretching its legs from over a 100 years of pent-up excitement. We stop for a snack while I dangle my legs over the edge and scratch Reina’s tummy as cars travel underneath us sending wind gusts up to cool us down from the hot Oklahoma summer sun. Peering off to the East I start to notice all the trees that have started to finally reach the rooftops of all the recently occupied residential complexes.
Pedestrians keep walking by us on their way down to the river and some are headed the opposite direction to downtown to start a night rememberence while stopping to pet Reina as they often do…he has become an exuberently friendly face to those urbanites I’ve come to know over the years.
I take a second to think to myself, “The once dirt river and abandoned buildings has now turned into all this??? My kid’s will never believe me.”
“Downtown belongs to everyone. This is where our cultural heart is. This is where our civic center, our library, our jewels are.”
- Jeff Bezdek, responding to comments by Ward 7 Councilman Skip Kelly that investment downtown doesn’t benefit the entire city.
Hint…. Jim Cowan isn’t a happy camper about all this.
That’s right, the Oklahoma City Council today will begin looking at whether to pass an ordinance that will allow police to place a yellow boot on any vehicle with more than $250 in unpaid parking tickets.
So, what do all of you think?
Many people might forget that the original MAPS ballot – a list of items to be paid by the tax but with just a “yes for all” or “no for all” vote might be difficult to exactly duplicate today due to a court ruling that came out against such ballots a few years ago.
David Holt, assistant to Mayor Mick Cornett, reports the following regarding a potential MAPS 3 ballot:
“Legal interpretations of what an Oklahoma ballot should look like have evolved since the original MAPS vote in 1993. Should the Mayor and Council move forward with a MAPS 3 proposal, the process will certainly conform to the operative law, and the City’s legal office will be exploring those issues as appropriate. It would be our intention to stay close to the basic model the voters have shown themselves to be comfortable with.”
Jenni Carlson has a great story today about how the 1989 Olympics Festival marked a change for this city. I can’t agree more with her. The years of 1989 through 1991 were pivotal for this city. It marked a low point where city fathers realized they could no longer dictate the future. We began to see the emergence of more openess to new ideas, to diversity, to more voices shaping the future.
The Olympics Festival was, as Ray Ackerman once told me, a band aid for what was ailing this town. It wasn’t the solution, it didn’t end the blues. But it reminded us that we didn’t have to be trapped in a collective lack of self esteem and malaize. We could be better. We could be great.
It was from 1989 to 1991 we saw Opening Night attract thousands back to downtown. We saw the Festival of the Arts bloom at the newly opened Myriad Gardens. We saw the rise of the Cavalry basketball team, followed by the Blazers ice hockey team. Downtown was coming alive, new voice were being heard, and suddenly it seemed as if anything were possible.
That, my friends, was the start of what we see today.
Now, onto a different topic. The blog gods here at NewsOK have been tinkering with these sites and in the process they removed the requirements to enter a code to register a comment.
This might be good news to you, but it means I’m back to spending my already scarce time having to sort through the stupid spam filter to ensure your legitimate comments don’t get killed when I hit the delete button.
Would you be OK if we bring back the code requirement?
How can all connect? Blair has some thoughts….
For months now we’ve had discussions on OKC Central in which we’ve scrutinized different plans for a potential MAPS 3, asked difficult questions and discussed differing visions on what downtown should look like in the future.
Today this blog takes a different direction.
I’ll still be delving into the daily events, happenings and items of interest involving downtown and the urban core. But when it comes to MAPS 3 and the future, I’m going to be silent. From here on out, this blog will instead feature guest posts from people of different backgrounds. And I’m going to ask each person to write on the same topic: What should downtown Oklahoma City look like in 2020, and how can this vision be best achieved?
The next couple of months may very well be a critical turning point for downtown. I look forward to seeing how this new discussion evolves.
His words, not mine.
It’s not quite that slow. But the national economy has definitely put several projects into a deep sleep.
Tomorrow the board commissioners will consider granting extensions to The Hill, TOverholser Greens and the Brownstones at Maywood Park. Other projects on hold include The Flatiron, the new headquarters for the Greater Oklahoma City Chamber and the OIPA.
No word on the timing of an Embassy Suites in the Oklahoma Health Center.
All thrusters are a go, however, for Devon tower.