In today’s Oklahoman I have a story about the Urban Land Institute arriving at yet another critical crossroads in development of Oklahoma City’s urban core. As this esteemed panel arrives today, I thought it might be interesting to look back at the ULI’s last visit:
City Told to Take Its Problems on Road Floridians Explain Workings Of Public-Private Partnership
By Ellie Sutter
Saturday, April 7, 1990
Edition: CITY, Section: NEWS, Page 04
Oklahoma City officials should visit other cities to see how they solved their urban renewal problems, two Jacksonville, Fla., experts advised Friday.
Jacksonville city councilman Terry Wood, immediate past president of the city council, and Mark Hulsey, immediate past chairman and chief executive officer of the Jacksonville Chamber of Commerce, told about 100 Oklahoma City officials over breakfast how they tackled some of their city’s economic woes.
Their visit was sponsored by the Urban Land Institute District Council in association with the Oklahoma City Chamber of Commerce and Second Century Inc., a public-private corporation created to revitalize the city.
The Florida pair explained how their unique public-private partnership of the city council and chamber of commerce works to create development in their 800-square-mile city.
Hulsey said city officials are active participants in the chamber.
Wood said, “This way we don’t sit around and be surprised at what the chamber of commerce does. It’s not them, it’s us.”
Hulsey said a part of this partnership, the Jacksonville Community Council Inc., has produced enormous results.
The council forms a traveling group. After the group identifies a problem, it finds a city which has solved a similar problem and goes there to find out how they did it. Each member pays his or her own expenses, although there are a few chamber “scholarships” available, he said.
Hulsey said the group went to Minneapolis, looked at a restored theater, came home and restored a theater in downtown Jacksonville.
It traveled to San Antonio, came home and developed a river walk.
A trip to Seattle resulted in an automated skyway express.
In Indianapolis, Inc., the group learned about downtown housing and is working on this idea with a downtown church which owns 12 square blocks.
“We went to Japan to see the 10 largest banks in the world to get them to spend some money in Jacksonville and they did,” Hulsey said.
The group also visited mass incineration operations in Japan and Indianapolis.
He said that America must do something about its garbage problems or “We’ll be standing in it up to our necks.”
Jacksonville has started a recycling program which will become mandatory in 18 months.
Wood said his city also has an advantage in that for the past 21 years it has had a combined city-county government. There are 14 wards and five additional council members are elected at large, Wood said.
He said a combined government reduces squabbles between governments and is economical because duplicate departments are eliminated.
Oklahoma County District 1 Commissioner Shirley Darrell said later she did not believe combining Oklahoma City-Oklahoma County governments would work.
“We have 16 other cities (in Oklahoma County),” Darrell said.
She said she did not see Edmond wanting to give up its identity for this type of consolidation.