The city unveiled its ideas for MAPS 3 yesterday, and nobody’s going to accuse them of thinking small. There are eight items in the package, of varying degrees of desirability but when is that not the case? but they’ll presumably be voted on as a package, as was the original set of MAPS projects in (can you believe it?) 1993.
- A new, approximately 70-acre central park linking the core of downtown with the Oklahoma River
- A new rail-based streetcar system, plus potential funding for other rail transit initiatives, such as commuter lines and a transit hub
- A new downtown convention center
- Sidewalks to be placed on major streets and near facilities used by the public throughout the City
- 57 miles of new public bicycling and walking trails throughout the City
- Improvements to the Oklahoma River, including a public whitewater kayaking facility and upgrades intended to achieve the finest rowing racecourse in the world
- State-of-the-art health and wellness aquatic centers throughout the City designed for senior citizens
- Improvements to the Oklahoma State Fairgrounds
Arguably the weakest of the components is the priciest: the new convention center, guesstimated at $280 million of the $777 million package, and, I’d bet, probably the highest priority of Movers & Shakers, Ltd., since they’d get to show it off to other guys in suits. It is true that the existing Cox Center is forty years old; it is also true that $60 million from the original MAPS package was spent on sprucing it up for its thirties. What’s yet to be determined is whether there will be any convention business left once this thing is built: if Washington manages to sucker the public into some sort of hyperexpensive yet ineffectual response to sunspots, fercrissake, nobody will be going anywhere anyway.
On the other hand, $40 million will buy fifty-seven miles of trail, which is a good thing, since the city’s Master Plan for trails called for more than 200 miles, and they’re a long way from finishing up.
I expect some tinkering before this whole ball of wax shows up on an actual ballot, but for now, this looks like an easy Yes vote, my reservations about the convention center notwithstanding.