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Controversial OKC Project Moves Forward

Filed by Michael Cross in Feature, Local News, News, Politics.
July 6, 2011

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The Oklahoma City Council makes a controversial change to the Metropolitan Area Projects or MAPS 3 plan passed by voters in 2009.

The option moves up the Convention Center construction while delaying some of the other more popular projects.

The new project schedule passed the city council on Tuesday by a vote of 4 to 3 with 2 council members not attending.

Under the new plan, the convention center construction moves up by 30 months with parts of the Oklahoma River, Downtown Park and
Transit delayed by two years.

It also extends the projects for the senior wellness center and walking, biking trails.

Ward Seven’s Skip Kelly voted against the measure saying his voters only supported the $777 million MAPS 3 initiative for issues like trails and sidewalks not the Convention center.

“That’s why I continue to make the statements that I make as it relates to those quality of life projects that I feel like deserve a faster track than some of these other huge projects.”

Several members of the public have spoken out against the move in the past few weeks at council meetings.

Ward Four’s Pete White says he knows exactly why the Convention Center is getting moved to the front of the line.

“One thing has changed. The subcommittee for the convention location system has the most powerful people in Oklahoma City on it and they are moving it forward at the expense of everybody else. That’s the only thing that’s changed.”

But, Ward Eight’s Pat Ryan says he feels good about supporting the new schedule because it still sees to the needs of the quality of life projects.

“By the time the convention center starts construction all of the sidewalks projects will have been completed, two of the three trails projects will have been completed, and the third one will be in pre-construction A&E stage.”

Ryan says construction will also be done on one of the senior wellness centers as well as the fairground and river projects.

He says this option is a true compromise to make everyone happy.

“I was pleased to see it and looked at with it with my sort of primitive analysis, and found out that a lot of the concerns that were expressed earlier by some of my colleagues about doing the convention center before we do the quality of life projects simply wasn’t there.”

Under the new plan construction on the convention center will take place from 2016 to 2018.

Council members also passed a measure to place the new center just west of the Oklahoma City Arena and South of the Myriad Gardens on what will eventually be a new Downtown Boulevard.

All MAPS 3 projects are to be completed by 2021.

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