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Paling project


Gazette staff November 16th, 2011

Apparently some Oklahoma City Council members thought city staff had some ’splainin’ to do, after a report of Project 180 given to them on Nov. 1 failed to mention the huge downtown streetscape redesign was running into financial issues.

The story, which was first reported online by okgazette.com on Nov. 4 and in last Wednesday’s print edition of Oklahoma Gazette, goes that because of cost overruns and an underperforming sales tax related to the Devon tax increment finance district, Project 180 is seeing revenue shortfalls and having to scale back.

One of the plans to get the ax from Project 180 is renovation of a major downtown thoroughfare: E.K. Gaylord Boulevard, which nationally recognized urban planner Jeff Speck targeted in 2009 as being too wide to be pedestrian-friendly.

At the Nov. 8 City Council meeting, Ward 2 Councilman Ed Shadid asked why the report didn’t, oh, say, mention the 50 percent shortfall in sales tax revenue to pay for the project. He said he worried that eliminating the renovation from Project 180 would have a significant impact on the intermodal transportation hub, planned for Santa Fe Station on Gaylord.

“None of the concerns that were brought up in any of these articles were mentioned in the presentation to council last week,” Shadid said. “There was no mention of cost overruns, there was no  mention of the reduced area that we’re going to be addressing, there was no talk about the budget shortfalls.”

City Manager Jim Couch said the city was definitely going to get to a renovated Gaylord, just maybe not with Project 180.

“I’m confident that we’re going to redo Gaylord,” Couch said. “I don’t know exactly how we’re going to do that right now, but there are a lot of options that are out there. I think we all acknowledge that going from downtown to Bricktown and getting over Gaylord is not pedestrianfriendly. It’s a tough walk; I think we all know that, and we would like to do something to fix it as we go forward.”

We’re thinking that, with one of the main streets in downtown not getting the Project 180 upgrade relatively soon, there could be a lot of people who won’t be “getting over Gaylord” for a while.

 
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