Is it circumventing the Open Meetings Act to provide members of a city body tours of a property in pairs so as to avoid a quorum? Is there an intent to be less than transparent in city business by adding a controversial item to the docket of a public body just 24 business hours before they are set to meet – especially when one side of the issue is fully privy to this action and the other isn’t? Does that indicate an effort by city staff to stack the deck on a matter that is to be decided by a municipal quasi-judicial body?
All these questions and more are being asked today by folks calling me about Monday’s Board of Adjustment hearing on the SandRidge Commons development.
Mayor Mick Cornett instructed the MAPS oversight board at their first meeting in May that only one site – the one he favors south of Ford Center and across from the planned central park – will have $280 million budgeted, that all others will be funded at $250 million.
He also indicated the group has just two good sites to consider – the one south of Ford Center and the one south of Lower Bricktown where the Southwestern Producers Coop is now being listed by Gary Gregory for $121 million (Gregory came up with the price based on major land sales in Dallas and Nashville prior to the 2008 economic crash).
Today we see the mayor’s instructions may or may not hold (read here).
On June 29, I compiled the following history of this topic – a timeline I intend to maintain as developments merrit:
The Core to Shore task force NEVER voted or agreed on any favored sites.
- Core to Shore planners situated the convention center south of Ford Center on maps and renderings at the direction of the mayor (I was at the meeting), who at the time indicated they were not to reflect any chosen site, but rather to serve as a placeholder.
- During the MAPS 3 campaign, the mayor told residents the south of Ford Center site had been picked as the best location for the proposed convention center.
- The only experts to look at the convention center – HOK and the Urban Land Institute – advised that the site south of Ford Center is least viable for such a facility. The mayor did not attend the presentation of the Urban Land Institute report.
- The same experts gave high marks to two sites – the lumberyard south of Bricktown and a site north of Bricktown along Main Street – that the mayor has consistently indicated are not going to be considered.
- The mayor told the MAPS 3 oversight board at their first meeting on May 27 that regardless of where they locate a convention center, $30 million of the money reserved for the convention center must go toward buying out the OG&E substation and property on the south of Ford Center convention center site.
- The council has held no vote on allocating $30 million for the OG&E property.
- The council has held no vote on limiting consideration of convention center locations to the two sites listed by the mayor – the south of Ford Center site and the Southwestern Producers Coop site (for which owners are seeking to sell it for $121 million)
- On June 22, City Manager Jim Couch said “no due diligence” had occurred in regard to choosing a site for the proposed convention center. During the same conversation the mayor reiterated there are just two sites being considered for a new convention center.
- On July 22, members of the MAPS 3 citizens oversight board indicated they will not limit their site selection to the two sites presented by the mayor. Councilman Larry McAtee, also a member of the group, said $280 million will be available for whatever site is chosen for a convention center. McAtee said the city council never voted or agreed to reserve $30 million of the $280 million for buying out OG&E property on the south of Ford Center.
So, once more, let’s go back to where this discussion started with a video and quote from Mayor Mick Cornett at an Oct. 21, 2009 “Breaking Through” luncheon:
We have a really good site picked out in Core to Shore planning. Put it on the boulevard, right next to the park. We’re going to continue to revisit the site because this is a pretty big decision. I want to make sure we have a strong concensus in the community that this is the best site. But the things to keep in mind is where are the hotels, where is bricktown? Do not get too far away from either of those two entities. I think the current site addresses that adequately. But there are other sites we can consider and we’ll do that on the other side of the vote if it’s successful.
See video below:
Uh-oh. Looks like Nick Roberts is delving into our history to prove how the experts aren’t always right in their assessments of old buildings they deem worthy of the wrecking ball …
“‘They (the building owners) have a building that is functionally obsolete …”
(The same building is a widely praised example of a restored landmark that is once contributing to the surrounding neighborhood). Learn more at Roberts’ Downtown on the Range.
The NewsOK skyline cam will be providing special close-ups of the Devon headquarters construction site and the tower cranes twice today – from 10:30 a.m. to 10:45 a.m. and from 2:30 p.m. to 2:45 p.m. One must register as a subscriber to view the live video streaming. Oklahoman subscribers wishing to obtain the account number needed to log in and view the OKC Skyline Cam can do so by going to www.newsok.com/settings, emailing email@example.com, or by calling 1-877-98-PAPER (1-877-987-2737).
I take two days off and return to find the OCU Law School deal at the Fred Jones plant is dead, and beloved old downtown art gallery, restaurants closing… Geez people, keep it together!
All right gang, I’m off today and tomorrow. Part of my leave is related to a little project … I’ll let this nifty little press release tell the story:
July 14, 2010 – A year-long effort to make Oklahoma City history more accessible goes public Thursday with the unveiling of Retro Metro OKC and the group’s website, www.retrometrookc.org.
Retro Metro OKC is pending 501c3 organization whose goal is to create an online exhibit of thousands of photos and documents relating to our city’s history, culture and heritage. The website debuts with more than 1,200 such materials, and thanks to a cooperative effort with the Oklahoma Historical Society and other area historical organizations, we hope to be adding many more historical Oklahoma City images in the near future.
Retro Metro OKC operates differently from other organizations in that we have no museum, we have no physical collections, and in most instances the materials we display remain in private ownership. In a typical situation our volunteer crews go to a home or business to scan an owner’s collection and the owner participates in the project by sharing information about the photos and documents as they are being scanned. The materials never have to leave an owner’s possession – the owner is simply asked to sign a release that allows for the materials to be displayed online.
The owner of such materials is given a disc of the digitized images and documents – and copies also will be given to the Oklahoma Historical Society and the Metropolitan Library System to ensure they will be preserved for future generations.
Retro Metro OKC’s founding members include historians, authors, planners, a preservation architect, a retired Greater Oklahoma City Chamber executive, a city councilman, a city clerk, business owners, graphic designers and filmmakers. Our common history is Oklahoma City history. Our youngest member is 17; our oldest members are in their 70s.
Over the past year our members have tried to carefully assess the needs and wants of our community. In addition to creating on online display of historic materials, we’re also using our experience, talent and resources to help other history organizations. For us, we check egos at the door. It’s about the history.
Our city’s history is waiting to be revealed and enjoyed. It resides in the photos left to us by our grandparents; it can be found in the postcards, souvenirs and letters gathering dust in the attic, in the stories of our relatives and in the archeology of old places.
Our city’s history can only be truly appreciated and kept intact if it’s found, revealed, shared, enjoyed and passed on to future generations.
Please feel free to visit www.retrometrookc.org and email any comments or questions to firstname.lastname@example.org. The site is interactive and allows for visitors to leave comments about photos and documents as they view specific collections. Updates about our activities can be followed via our Twitter account @retrometrookc.
- Steve Lackmeyer, president, Retro Metro OKC
Q: The membership includes popular bloggers like Doug Loudenback. Does this mean he will no longer be operating www.dougloudenback.blogspot.com?
A: Gosh no! Doug’s website has an international audience and he will be continuing to provide his own take on history, the city’s heritage and current events. Doug’s influence can be found in kindergartens where his “Oklahoma Rising” video is played in classrooms, or on the Oklahoma River Cruisers where guides share history of the city they learned from Doug’s blog. Likewise, Steve Lackmeyer and Jack Money will continue to operate www.okchistory.com, and Buddy Johnson will continue to dig into history with his Oklahoma Images collection at the downtown library. Justin Tyler Moore and Cody Cooper can hardly go a day without exploring an abandoned historic property and sharing their discoveries at www.abandonedok.com.
Q: Does one have to pay to view images at www.retrometrookc?
A: No. They are meant for viewing by the public. We also encourage people to use the photos on their own blogs and websites as long as proper credit is given to the collection’s owner.
Q: Will the images be for sale?
A: We have no such plans at this time. Anyone wishing to obtain a higher resolution version of an image should email email@example.com to determine availability of such images (those wanting images belonging to the Oklahoma Historical Society will be directed to the museum, which sells photos for very reasonable prices).
Q: How can I get involved?
A: Look in your attic. Look in your closets. Look in your basement. What photos and materials do you have in your very own home that might make a good addition to our collections? Retro Metro OKC will also be providing updates on activities and needs as warranted.
Q: How did you get all of this work done? It must have cost a fortune.
A: Nope. We are a volunteer organization that raised no money for ourselves in getting to this point (we did help raise $5,000 to help the Oklahoma City/County Historical Society display the I.M. Pei model in May). So far our costs have been kept under $1,000 with all work paid for or performed by Retro Metro OKC members.
Q: What’s next?
A: Just wait. The fun has just begun.
Q: Can I donate?
A: Soon. We are a pending 501c3 organization. Contact us for more information.
Nice headline provided by the folks at central desk for my story today on the Oklahoma River Cruisers. Bottom line: service is far better. Customers are very happy with the cruises. But ridership is still plunging and the city is spending millions to keep the operation afloat. Read the story here.