While I think there are many positive aspects to Oklahoma City’s rapid downtown development, at times it seems as though no one really has any clue what is going on from one day to the next. The competing economic development committees are one example, but much of that can be chalked up to plain old cronyism. More worrying is the fact that the proponents of the so-called “Core-to-Shore” central park didn’t notice that we already had an amazing central park in OKC being renovated under their very noses. Now we’re faced with the same dilemma that has plagued every new MAPS project since version 1.0: what the hell are we doing? Newly elected city council member Ed Shadid points to the heart of the problem with the two parks:
“This is an entity which is going to have tremendous firepower in terms of the financial backers,” Shadid said. “There will be no coordination between the public running the Core to Shore park and the Myriad Gardens. Do we have two ice skating rinks that compete against each other? We have the public competing against an endowment with $10 million.”
And for all the good that MAPS has done for the city, it’s getting harder and harder to dismiss the nagging feeling that OKC’s renaissance is a thin veil covering a massive get-rich-quick scheme for wealthy investors. From the shady Alliance for Economic Development to the plethora of rentable space in newly renovated Myriad Gardens, I wonder if Mick and the City Council should stop trying to dictate a different vision from day to day based on rates of revenue and take the organic, bottom-up approach favored my own neighborhood (the thriving Plaza District).
If the only consideration for another giant park downtown is whether it will make the city money, then perhaps we’re doing something wrong.