The MAPS 4 package passed the Oklahoma City Council Tuesday in a unanimous vote, although not smoothly.
The broad spectrum of project ideas covers some of the city’s most pressing needs as well as some aspirational desires for infrastructure to attract visitors to the city.
Coming in at $978 million, the package of 16 projects will now go to a vote of City of Oklahoma City residents December 10.
If passed, the one cent temporary sales tax will go into effect April 1 when the Better Streets and Safer Cities temporary tax expires.
After today’s meeting, Mayor David Holt described MAPS 4 as “a broad package that meets many needs in our city – most notably in our neighborhoods and in our daily lives. It also enhances our quality of life and promises to diversify our economy.”
Ideas for projects to be included in the package were presented in an unprecedented series of four hearings that took place during July and the first part of August.
The hearings saw various groups showing up and City Hall sometimes with matching t-shirts to promote one of the 16 projects.
The last two hearings took entire days with no breaks for lunch. As the Council heard the presentations, members and the mayor took turns going to the restroom and snacking on the horseshoe in order to keep the proceedings moving.
In contrast, projects in the three MAPS packages over previous decades were first chosen by city council members, the mayor and a small group of powerful business leaders before going before the Council and a vote of the people.
The 16 projects included in the package represent a broad array of attempts to meet human, neighborhood and economic needs of Oklahoma City.
To do further research, click on any of the projects in this list to see a description on the City’s website.
- Parks ($140 million)
- Youth Centers ($110 million)
- Senior Wellness Centers ($30 million)
- Mental Health and Addiction ($40 million)
- Family Justice Center operated by Palomar ($38 million)
- Transit ($87 million)
- Sidewalks, bike lanes, trails and streetlights ($87 million)
- Homelessness ($50 million)
- Chesapeake Energy Arena and related facilities ($115 million)
- Animal Shelter ($38 million)
- Fairgrounds Coliseum ($63 million)
- Diversion Hub ($17 million)
- Innovation District ($71 million)
- Freedom Center and Clara Luper Civil Rights Center ($25 million)
- Beautification ($30 million)
- Multipurpose Stadium ($37 million)
Several members of the Council raised questions about the apparent values at work in deciding what levels of financial support would be given to the various projects.
It produced a pause in the process and added a serious note to what could have been a rubber-stamping of the proposed projects.
Ward 6 Councilwoman JoBeth Hamon and Ward 7 Councilwoman Nikki Nice both raised questions about the values shown in what was being presented.
Hamon raised three primary issues she had with the package as presented.
She said that the neighborhood and human services projects funding numbers had not changed from before the lengthy hearings causing her to question whether those who had compromised in the past were being asked to compromise again.
Second, she said the $100 million endowment was likely to not raise enough money to actually pay for the operations of the new projects and would be put to better current use during the next MAPS 4 phase.
Third, she argued that there was not enough money to meet the projected needs of alleviating the homelessness problem in Oklahoma City and suggested moving the 10 million being proposed for the Innovation District Co-working space.
Nice argued that the TIF district established to support the Innovation District was for $200 million and the proposed number for the district was $100 million, which could easily be paid for by TIF money.
A motion to take money from the co-working space and apply it to the homelessness project and to spread money that is designated to being used to enhance the tenth street bridge across enhancements for all the bridges on I-235 failed 3-6.
In the end, Hamon voted with the rest of the Council to pass the package as presented in the resolution on the agenda along to City voters.
The overall tone of the comments Tuesday was one of support.
Nice praised the projects in the package that acknowledged the contributions of her historically black Ward on the east side of the City.
Oklahoma City NAACP Chapter President Garland Pruitt, typically a firebrand who brings a strong measure of skepticism to City Council actions, spoke in favor of “moving forward” into the future with a vote for the package.
Southside resident and Oklahoma Representative Forrest Bennett would like the the soccer stadium to be south of the river closer to the club’s biggest fan base of youth and adults he knows best.
But, he spoke strongly in favor of the package in public comments to the Council citing the club’s youth work and value to the community.
He told Free Press later he was in favor of the package also because of the other infrastructure benefits it would bring to the south side.
Bob Funk, Jr., one of the owners of the Oklahoma Energy Football (soccer) Club that will benefit from the new stadium to be built downtown, spoke well of all the projects in the package in an interview with Free Press.
“It’s a win for Oklahoma City,” said Funk. “We had so many great projects in there between the homeless initiative, the Diversion Hub Mental Health Initiative, the parks initiative, the parks and the transportation initiatives, everything that is going on over on the northeast side.”
“I think, obviously, we’re just happy to be a part of it. And, happy to be a part of that framework, because we think that we fit in well, in an aspect of all of those areas in terms of how we address those issues in our community.”
UPDATED: August 28, 7:30 a.m.
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Last Updated August 28, 2019, 9:18 AM by Brett Dickerson – Editor