Those developments include the Devon tower, renovations of Project 180, Interstate 40 realignment and MAPS 3 projects such as the new convention center, modern streetcar and downtown central park.
Mike Mize of ADG presented the report to the council May 1. He said the study’s findings concluded that while there are some elements of the 20to 50-year plan that need updating, its foundation remains sound and relevant.
“This was a study that was conducted for the purpose of trying to [identify] how specific MAPS 3 projects … have an effect on the Core to Shore study,” Mize told the council. “The Core to Shore plan does provide a great framework for growth for downtown.”
Mize said the three MAPS 3 projects in the Core to Shore area are in the process — or will soon begin the process — of hiring consultants.
The study had been met with skepticism at the January meeting of the modern streetcar subcommittee. Members of that panel took exception to some of the study’s conclusions and the lack of involvement of streetcar subcommittee members.
“There was concern among the stakeholders with the streetcar,” Mize told the council. “There were concerns about the demand (of the streetcar), the market, ridership profile, and some other concerns. There was also concern about clutter being created by an overhead wire system.”
Streetcar subcommittee members said many of the questions raised about the modern streetcar had already been answered or addressed, but that those answers were not included in the report.
The MAPS 3 Citizens Advisory Board approved the study by a 5-3 vote.
Mize said the streetcar subcommittee’s protests were included in the report and that information about all of the MAPS 3 projects in the Core to Shore area was taken into consideration.
Studying the study
After the presentation, Ward 2 Councilman Ed Shadid blasted the study.
“I have concerns about the methodology of the study. I have concerns about really even calling it a ‘study,’” he said.
“To me, it’s a survey or a report of findings; it doesn’t rise to the level of the study. We spend $20,000 and interviewed 18 people over approximately 36 hours.”
Shadid echoed much of the streetcar subcommittee’s criticisms, adding that the study could be used to justify killing or crippling the modern streetcar and funneling that money into other MAPS 3 projects.
“You say there’s general concern among the stakeholders interviewed that the transit component of the MAPS 3 program has not been studied or planned thoroughly enough to justify the $130 million expense, that the transit system needs to be sized properly for Oklahoma City,” he said.
“To go out of your way to point out that the price tag of transit of $130 million when you didn’t do that for anything else ... I understand how it would seem suspect to some people.”
Mize defended the study, saying it was conducted with no agenda in mind.
“There was no ulterior motive,” he said. “The idea was to find out what kinds of issues are out there, what perceptions are out there, and to ... find ways to deal with them in the future, which is what we think we accomplished in the study.”
Shadid responded that most people interviewed for the study already had made their opinions known.
“I know where many of those interviewed already stand on the issue,” he said. “If that’s all this is — 36 hours of interviewing people who we already know their opinions — what did we get for that $20,000?” The council approved the study, 7-1, with Shadid dissenting.
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