Let me preface this by saying I’ve consulted with a few people I trust, took into account what regular OKC Central readers thought, and then, quite frankly, went with my gut.
It wasn’t an easy decision. Any of the six finalists could have been chosen. I loved all of them, and every photo submitted showed good perspectives of downtown.
I think our skyline is getting better and better. I love the life I see on our streets – life that didn’t exist 20 years ago. Our downtown is filled with great stories – stories I love to tell. And though I may come off as a bit jaded and cynical, I’m ultimately a sucker for a happy ending. I chose the photo where I believed there was a great story to tell – one I hope Courtney Nixon will share with me soon…
As an aside, thanks to all who participated in this contest. It’s great to see such interest in the first Starlight Supper, and I hope all of you get to learn more about the challenges and opportunities ahead with the great kids at Emerson High School.
Alright folks, I’ve narrowed down the finalists to the following photos. I’ll announce a winner later this afternoon.
Will this be the final entry? I’m going to cap off any additional entries at 2 p.m. and will announce the winner about 4 p.m. At that time I will notify Downtown Oklahoma City Inc. of the names of the winners and they will be reserved two seats at the Starlight Supper Friday night.
UPDATE: Two more entries:
UPDATE NO. 2
FINAL PHOTO ACCEPTED.
We’ve got some great photos to choose from. I went through them tonight, and I have three favorites. Now I want to hear from you before I decide tomorrow morning which photo gets the two free tickets to Friday night’s Starlight Supper at Civic Center park.
I am getting some great photo entries for the Starlight Supper contest. I’ll post them all tonight, allow for some last minute entries tomorrow morning, allow for readers to tell me their favorites, and then I’ll post the winner tomorrow afternoon who then can pick up the tickets from Downtown Oklahoma City Inc.!
Sometimes I wish I could be cloned. Such is the case on Friday, when I’m already signed up to join the Urban Land Institute for a city tour at the same time that Downtown Oklahoma City Inc. is hosting the first Starlight Supper at the Civic Center park (also known as Bicentennial Park) in front of the Civic Center Music Hall. This is, to my knowledge, the first big event held at the park since it was rebuilt as part of Project 180.
The dinner is a fundraiser for a cause near and dear to – Emerson High School – which is tasked with helping pregnant teens and other challenged kids overcome their hurdles in getting a degree. I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again: these are not, for the most part, bad kids. They’re kids who at some point made a bad choice, as all kids do, except these kids did not always have as great a safety net to catch them and help them get back up. I’ve volunteered at Emerson, I’ve spent time with these kids. They’re smart. They funny. They’re inspiring. They understandably are bored by me.
What a better way to help these kids. Downtown OKC Inc. is taking up the challenge to help boost downtown’s one and only school. But I can’t go. I’m already committed. So what do I do with the two tickets offered to me? Let’s give them away!
So here’s the deal. Send me your best photo of downtown Oklahoma City, either by emailing it to me at firstname.lastname@example.org, or posting it to my attention on Twitter @stevelackmeyer or my Facebook page www.facebook.com/stevelackmeyer. The photo that impresses me the most gets the tickets, and I’ll use your photo and visit with you about your hopes and dreams for downtown Oklahoma City as part of future OKC Central column.
To learn more about the Starlight Supper, read the following press release:
My column on Tuesday will focus on my takeaways from Wednesday’s Placemaking conference hosted by the OU Institute for Quality Communities. I’m seeing a trend – I’m seeing hundreds of people – not just planners, but civic leaders, young professionals, neighborhood activists, retirees, working families and college students, all eager to hear about how to make Oklahoma City less structured for cars, and more structured for pedestrians. They cheer when they’re rallied to challenge the status quo, and they are clearly unhappy with the continued emphasis by the Oklahoma City Public Works Department on designing a street grid that consists of four lane streets that can double as high speed byways from one end of the city to the other.
The attempted “temporary” removal of the dedicated bike lane from Walker Avenue by public works before the new set up was given a chance to perform was seen as further evidence by planning advocates that efforts to date to make the city more walkable are token concessions and not a good faith effort to stop building a city that only caters to cars.
At the conference, people cheered as they heard the same mantra – cities, to be successful in the future, must be designed less for cars and more for people. I’m witnessing this trend at conference after conference, town hall after town hall.
But am I missing something? Are there experts, are there academics or authors with big followers who are saying that designing cities around automobiles is the key to building a successful 21st century city?
Enlighten me, please… is this alternate view out there?
Today I’m featuring a hometown band, Horse Thief, as we close out the week. I’m told that this ACM@UCO band released an EP on a UK label earlier this week (available on iTunes) and this band is considered the Bricktown college’s current “most likely to succeed.”
Good luck guys!
The routine is the same as it usually is for live chat – you can start logging in with questions and comments on the link on the NewsOK business page, with the chat starting at 10 a.m. The earlier you log in and leave questions and comments, the earlier they will appear in the chat. They will appear in order. And I have nothing new to give you on the “mystery tower”!
The headline on today’s story by William Crum about Tuesday’s city council elections might provoke such a thought – but let’s delve deeper, shall we?
Crum nails some really good issues. There is a growing concern out there about crime – especially how the city flirted with setting a new record last year in the number of homicides. The city has seen tremendous growth, and is said to be growing by 2,000 people a month. Yet the police force remains at the same level – and actually was down a bit not too long ago – as it was 20 years ago. That math, critics charge, doesn’t add up.
But let’s backup. First off, let’s note the headline is based on a comment by veteran Ward 4 City Councilman Pete White (“Emphasis on downtown Oklahoma City development takes a hit in election, council member says”). Pete was one of two council members who did not draw an opponent in this year’s election, and his track record is not one of being anti-downtown. The same can be said for Ward 3 Councilman Larry McAtee, who also drew no opponents.
Ward 7 Councilman Skip Kelly drew several opponents, and no surprise there: after getting arrested on a DUI, Kelly dismissed suggested he might have a drinking problem, and then, with another rather embarrassing arrest, Kelly had a second DUI on his hands and lingering uncertainty as to whether he might be forced off the council if convicted of felony DUI.
In a ward where pastors of large Baptist churches are civic giants, this didn’t bode well for the incumbent. Skip was hardly a big downtown booster, so does Pete White’s observation really apply to Ward 7?
Let’s move on to Ward 1. Gary Marrs held the seat for two terms and did not face any competition four years ago. Was he geared up for a three-person race? Did he face problems with voters over his support for the city’s sexual orientation policy? Was he seen as being disengaged with his ward? Was his support of downtown development an issue?
MAPS 3 implementation is not pretty right now. Questions that went unanswered (or unasked) during the campaign are now popping back up with no easy answers to be found.
What if there are not any private entities ready to take on the cost of the senior wellness centers as was assumed by the mayor and council? What if the city’s corporate and community interests don’t show an interest in forming a foundation to help operate and oversee the cost of the Core to Shore park as was assumed during the campaign? What if the city can’t obtain any federal matching funds for the streetcar system as was suggested during the campaign? A large conference hotel is held up as a critical component to a new convention center being successful but is widely acknowledged to hinge on a public subsidy of at least $50 million – so what if a city council that now has four people who were not members when MAPS 3 passed opposes such a proposition?
The MAPS 3 ballot passed over strenuous opposition despite a more diversified focus on projects throughout the city (wellness centers, trails and sidewalks). Public safety advocates questioned why MAPS 3 was being pursued as a priority over the need to put more money into staffing up the police department. And some respected civic leaders, notably Sonic CEO Cliff Hudson, cautioned against creating a MAPS 3 that might be “a tax in search of a purpose.”
How many of these concerns continued to linger in households throughout the city? Downtown advocates note its the city’s neighborhood – the one neighborhood that can be enjoyed by all residents. But it’s future, and the latest incarnation of MAPS 3, may not be as settled as some might have assumed.
NOTE: The following was written by Sonic CEO Cliff Hudson on Aug. 17, 2009, about a month before the MAPS 3 ballot was first unveiled by Mayor Mick Cornett:
It is a testament to the strength of the MAPS brand that so many in our city speculate as to the focus of a possible MAPS 3.
MAPS and MAPS for Kids were a success. They were a success because they each had a clearly defined, community building purpose and the citizens could envision the consequences for life in our city. With this filter, we should guard against the next MAPS initiative becoming an effort to build buildings, or a diffuse set of initiatives that amount to a tax in search of a purpose.
In 1993, then-Mayor Ron Norick recognized the fundamental needs of an active cultural life in our city. He and many others saw our city’s shortfall and our inability to compete for new business because of this shortfall. We addressed this with MAPS, and now our city is regularly cited for regenerating its cultural life.
In 2001, then-Mayor Kirk Humphreys recognized the fundamental needs of our core public school system. He and many others saw our city’s fundamental shortfall and realized we could never become the city we envisioned without a functional and stable urban public school system. We addressed this matter in MAPS for Kids and, while we have a ways to go on the academic front, we are on the incline now, rather than a steep decline.
With the momentum our city has achieved with these initiatives, who wouldn’t ask how we should sustain this momentum? In our business at Sonic, however, we often say there is no shortage of good ideas, only a shortage of resources. In life and in city planning, the same is also true. Our citizenry, pleased with the MAPS moniker and desirous of continued growth of our city, understandably looks to a MAPS 3 to sustain that momentum.
Lest we simply fund a few buildings, but risk achieving little community building, we should ask ourselves what core capital investment our city’s infrastructure lacks. Then we should ask whether the direction and course of our city would be redirected by a MAPS-style investment in that infrastructure.
I continue to be optimistic about the future of our city, and Sonic is as proud as ever to call Oklahoma City its home. We’re fortunate to have had the community-building effects of MAPS. We should be cautious, selective and strategic with its newest addition. If we play it right, we can move our community to another level and find Oklahoma City on everyone’s maps because of MAPS 3.
Oklahoma City forced the creation of this barrier around a city water meter AFTER the arrival of Jeff Speck, and after the discussion on walkability, and after planning began for Project 180. This sidewalk is along NE 2 in Deep Deuce, which is on the verge of becoming the city’s first fully developed, mixed use urban neighborhood.
The city has refused to make a change to this barrier.