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Letters to the Editor

Build the cathedtral

Harold Patterson July 10th, 2013

Dr. Ed Shadid’s commentary (”Unfortunately, it’s all too conventional,” June 26, Oklahoma Gazette) reminds me of the few naysayers who spoke against the MAPS arena construction when faced with cost overruns. On behalf of Thunder fans everywhere, thank you to those who stood their ground. MAPS was 21st-century thinking before the 20th century was over.

Shadid supports his premise with statistics and facts from other projects and cities. This kind of research is vital when entering into something as important as the expenditure of taxpayer funding. We must be careful to remember, however, that facts and statistics can be read multiple ways and stated in a supportive fashion rather than negative. For example, yes, nationwide convention business is down since 2008. Everything went down in ’08. I would be interested to know how Oklahoma City’s convention business compared with the national average from 2009 to ’11 while major cities were experiencing declines.

Still, it doesn’t change the fact that OKC voted for MAPS 3 as a whole, not piecemeal. Yes, occasionally, we do need course corrections to accommodate changing needs when planning long-term. For example, Core to Shore adjustments were made after the completion of improvements to the Myriad Botanical Gardens.

Like an aircraft altering its course to get to its destination, we, too, need to alter ours — but still we must get our passengers to the destination we promised. I followed the MAPS 3 campaign closely and was well aware that the convention center would need a convention hotel. To claim not to know that would be an admission of apathy, or admission of a choice not to know.

Through MAPS and its influence, we have a downtown ballpark, arena and canal; a new library; downtown hotels that generate revenue for the entire city; new businesses downtown; a river that is home to Olympic champions and a thriving NBA team.

Thanks to the vision held by former mayors Ron Norick and Kirk Humphreys and current Mayor Mick Cornett, we have a downtown. They didn’t talk about why it wouldn’t work. They made it work. All of these remarkable entities will help us build the walkable destinations and quality-of-life improvements. Without them, we have no destinations to which to walk.

Walk around the Skirvin Hilton Hotel and envision a parking lot. Walk along the Bricktown canal and see a potholed California Street. Walk around the Chickasaw Bricktown Ballpark and see a dusty field. Walk around the Oklahoma River and envision someone mowing it rather than rowing in it. Walk around the Devon tower and envision nothing. Walk around any of those without MAPS and you walk either without sidewalks or on very poor ones.

We need leaders with vision! Shadid’s approach reminds me of the three bricklayers. The first bricklayer was asked what he was doing, and he responded, “Can’t you see? I’m stacking these bricks!” The second bricklayer was asked what he was doing, and he said, “Can’t you see? I am building a wall.” The third bricklayer was asked the same, and he dusted his hands, stood up, smiled and said, “Can’t you see? I’m building a cathedral!” Which bricklayer do we want to be?

Which one do we want leading us?

—Harold Patterson Oklahoma City

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