11 October 2004
Hit the bricks
As Tulsa wrestles with trying to lure people downtown, Michael Bates explains what it takes:
Most of what needs to be done to make downtown appealing again involves the basics a visible police presence to act as a deterrent against crime and an assurance to downtown visitors and residents alike, improvements to lighting and sidewalks, fixing and, where possible, reopening streets to auto traffic.
Mike Jones [in a Tulsa World editorial] goes on to say that downtown is no more dangerous than 71st & Memorial or 41st & Yale. That may be so, but at those other locations, people feel insulated from danger because they are in their cars. In a real downtown, you're going to be on foot as you go from place to place. If the arena is going to spark new restaurants and clubs downtown, people will have to feel safe and comfortable walking from the arena to the Blue Dome and Brady Village districts. Once an arena patron is in his car, downtown has lost the advantage of proximity a myriad of restaurants and clubs are at his disposal, all within a 20 minute drive.
We've figured this out down here. Oklahoma City has increased its police presence in Bricktown and has installed a police substation in a rented storefront, pending the completion of a full-time police building on East Main. The Walnut Avenue bridge is closed for now, but will be rebuilt. And if you'd rather not walk all over Bricktown, there's always the trolley.
Of course, we provide places where you can feel a sense of danger in your car, too: just try to get through the Pennsylvania Avenue/Memorial Road/Kilpatrick Turnpike intersection.