Looks like tomorrow will be a fun meeting for the MAPS 3 convention center subcommittee. Despite much debate and disagreement by the city council over efforts by Mayor Mick Cornett and city management to divert $30 million of the convention center budget to acquisition and relocation of a power station in Core to Shore (unrelated to the convention center), the budget change remains in place. There has been no city council vote on this matter, and voters were told the convention center budget would be $280 million. The ADG report to the committee proposes it be listed as $250 million, with $30 million now being listed for “infrastructure.”
The MAPS 3 subcommittee meets at 10:30 a.m. Tuesday on the 10th floor of 420 W Main.
I’ve written about Emerson High School before; it’s an alternative education school at NW 7 and Walker where kids with some of the biggest challenges (teen pregnancy, not fitting in) are trying to overcome great odds and obtain a high school diploma.
I was first drawn to the plight of this school when I learned it was possible that those horrible (and they are horrible) run-down metal trailers outside the historic building could be left standing and in use as classrooms AFTER it undergoes its MAPS for Kids renovation.
That threat, last I heard, went away, but the underlying issue remains: there are elements of our community who seem to think these kids are least deserving of our help and attention.
Think about that – kids who have made bad choices, are paying the consequences, and yet are still trying to get a diploma and live productive lives. Who amongst us didn’t do something stupid when we were young? Who amongst us didn’t risk getting into serious trouble when our brains weren’t finished cooking yet?
Yet this logic prevails. I even encountered one person, an individual in a pretty prominent position in our downtown community, who suggested coming to the aid of these kids, putting Emerson out front and center, wouldn’t fit “Midwest values.”
I bit my tongue at least a dozen times when he said it. Readers, you’ve been very complimentary of me in recent days, with more than one of you commenting how “diplomatic” I tend to be in my writing. But let’s be honest for just a moment. There are times when I want to scream out IDIOT! in response to outright bigotry and ignorance. Want to guess why I had to bite my tongue a dozen times?
I wanted to say so much to this individual. Guess what pal? We’re not in the Midwest – we’re in the lower Plains. And to be precise, we’re Oklahoma. It’s a totally different deal here all together. We’re not the wealthiest folks in the country, but look at any charitable giving list and you’ll find Oklahomans are by far the most generous. We come to each others’ aid, regardless of age, income, class or race. It’s the Oklahoma Standard. And that means yeah, we’re going to come to the aid of a struggling pregnant 16-year-old high school student because she’s trying to make something better of herself – and create a better future for their child. Tomorrow night you can show this person they’re wrong by attending what will be a series of meetings related to the MAPS for Kids overhaul of Emerson. Learn for yourself what obvious needs are not be addressed – and why.
Here’s the info:
Emerson Alternative School to host MAPS for Kids community meeting
Emerson Alternative School will host the third of four MAPS for Kids community meetings at 6 p.m. on Tuesday, July 26. The meeting will take place in the school’s cafeteria, 715 North Walker Avenue.
During the meeting, parents, teachers, students, neighbors, community members and school administrators can provide input and share their ideas for the school’s upcoming renovations.
The school, which was established in 1894, will receive over $3.4 million in facility improvements from MAPS for Kids funds.
The two remaining community meetings held for Emerson Alternative School will cover:
Meeting 3 – preliminary design presentations
Meeting 4 – final design presentation
Funding for the nearly $700 million MAPS for Kids program comes from two voter-approved sources: a seven-year penny sales tax which ended on Dec. 31, 2008 and an Oklahoma City Public Schools bond issue. Once completed, every student in the Oklahoma City Public Schools district will attend a new or fully renovated school.
Yep. In case you missed it, here’s the story. Keep in mind that during a city council discussion earlier this year, the Myriad Gardens Foundation showed no interest in taking on responsibility for the Core to Shore Park.
Remember Jeff Speck? Well, he’s not forgotten Oklahoma City. Here’s his article on Project 180 in Planning Magazine: J Speck OK City (click through link to pop up pdf)
Pssstttt….. want to hear a secret?
There are families living downtown. Real live families – mommies, daddies, kids in strollers, teens – I promise they’re out there. I’ve seen them. They’re not talked about much, but after reading a story about the “kid boom” in downtown Minneapolis, I wonder if Oklahoma City is prepared for a similar demographic shift in years to come.
After all, we’ve got a downtown elementary coming on line in a couple of years. We’ll have a streetcar system. We’ll have a more family friendly Myriad Gardens. And I estimate we have at least 1,000 new housing units coming online in the next few years.
What do you think?
Maybe you missed the story that appeared earlier this week in which Gary Ridley at ODOT talked about how potential federal budget cuts could hamper completion of the new Interstate 40 south of downtown (read it here). Note the following excerpt:
Ridley said the cut would be so extreme his agency would be unable to protect the $670 million Crosstown Expressway project, the most expensive project in state history. The seven-year project to relocate Interstate 40 through downtown Oklahoma City is scheduled to be completed next year.
“When you talk about those kind of numbers, everything is at risk,” he said. “You just can’t say that something is going to be protected over everything else.”
I thought this was intriguing in light of news in prior weeks that the highway was running ahead of schedule (relatively speaking) and is set to open for traffic by mid-2012. So I called ODOT and discovered there is only one bid left, a $20 million paving job for the highway west of the Bricktown Canal, and it’s been advertised and responses are due soon.
State statute requires that money be in hand before bids are advertised. So I called Ridley for clarification. Doesn’t this mean the highway is set to open regardless of future funding? The ensuing conversation took a lot of twists and turns, but here’s the bottom line: the highway will open for traffic next year, but the boulevard, which is in the eight-year funding plan, could be delayed significantly.
This is the boulevard that Mayor Mick Cornett has been insisting will be open by 2014, and thus the Core to Shore park just had to be finished at the same time. It’s the boulevard that has been the basis of so much Core to Shore planning, and has been such a big part of future planning that the arena’s new grand entrance is being rebuilt – NOW – to face that road.
It’s an $85 million boulevard. It’s not funded. And when Ridley talks about how his agency is looking at a major cut to funding that could alter its eight-year plan, is OKC ready for what that could mean to this project?