MAPS 3 Citizens Advisory Board plans second meeting to help $777-million project come to life 

The MAPS 3 Citizens Advisory Board will conduct its second scheduled meeting at 10 a.m. Thursday in the City Council Chamber at City Hall. The members will receive additional knowledge on the projects planned in the initiative.

MAPS 3 Manager Eric Wenger said presenting the board with background information is an important step in understanding the $777 million plan.

"We're looking at using these first few meetings to bring this board up to speed to what city leaders know about MAPS 3," he said. "MAPS 3 has been in process for years. We're bringing in managers and directors of the projects and having them make presentations to the board to make sure they have their information."

Collection of the seven-year, nine-month one-cent sales tax began on April 1 after the sports facility sales tax concluded. June marks the third month of collection of funding for the MAPS 3 research and projects.

Wenger said to avoid deficit spending, a consultant will be hired after enough funding has been collected.

"We're in an early stage of collection," he said. "We can do a lot of planning work and a lot of programming. There's no cost to operate the board, so to speak, and there is a lot to be done while we collect the funds."

Comprised of 11 members, the board will offer an advisory role to the Oklahoma City Council, which will approve projects. The members will be presented with information by project managers, and in future meetings, consultants who may offer detailed plans.

What kind of power does the MAPS 3 oversight group actually have? Although the board doesn't have the ability to make legislative changes, Wenger said it will not "rubber stamp" the process, and its advice will carry weight with City Council.

"The council will be relying on this board to dig in and understand the issues as they arise," he said. "When looking at these items, whatever they may be, they'll have an easier time approving the decisions. There is a process of approval, and the advisory board is a part of that. Their focus is strictly MAPS 3, and that brings confidence to the council."

At the first meeting, Mayor Mick Cornett also stressed the importance of the board's research to be thorough in decision-making.

"No question people will look back 100 years from now and say, 'Well, they did that one right' or, 'They sure messed up that one,'" Cornett said. "We have to make sure we have the fewest mistakes possible."

In future meetings, Wenger said the board will designate priority to the projects and divide into subcommittees.

The advisory board met for the first time on May 27. Cornett attended to give a presentation outlining the social and economic state of Oklahoma City. The points presented ranged from the good and the bad, including its title as Forbes' No. 1 most junk-food obsessed city.

Cornett used the presentation to explain how he believed MAPS 3 would fit into the city's progression, noting that Oklahoma City made 4 percent more than the national average per capita income. He described eight projects: a downtown convention center, a central park, the streetcar transit system, plans for sidewalks, walking and biking trails, a whitewater kayaking facility, state fairground improvements and aquatic wellness centers for senior citizens.

Following the mayor, the board was given a more in-depth look into the central park and streetcar concepts by planning director Russell Claus and transit services director Rick Cain, respectively.

The advisory board meets regularly at 10 a.m. on the fourth Thursday of each month. The second Thursday is reserved for special meetings, if necessary. "Luke Atkinson

MAPS 3 Manager Eric Wenger. Photo/Mark Hancock

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