MAPS 4 projects outlined
by: William Crum
Originally published by The Oklahoman
MAPS 4 will be about people as much as, or more than, it will be about buildings.
That is the early takeaway from a list of projects to be considered by the Oklahoma City Council over the next few months.
"I really think that the sentiment of the public is for geographic distribution around the city, not look so much at downtown, and to make sure that the needs we're meeting are the needs of 2019," said Mayor David Holt.
The council votes Tuesday on a schedule of four public hearings, where advocates of selected proposals will be invited to pitch their ideas in formal presentations.
Transit, senior health and wellness centers, youth centers, sidewalks, trails, bicycle lanes, streetlights and parks are on the table.
Solutions are proposed to address social ills such as mental illness, high incarceration rates, domestic violence, and homelessness.
Economic development is addressed with investment in the innovation district; a new animal shelter will get consideration.
Freedom Center, where civil rights pioneer Clara Luper fostered her NAACP Youth Council, would be restored.
The new State Fair Park coliseum, Chesapeake Energy Arena upgrades for the NBA's Thunder, and a multipurpose stadium for sporting events including soccer are in the mix.
"After 25 years of investing in quality of life amenities and entertainment amenities and visitor amenities," Holt said, "... maybe we can take a look now at things like homelessness, substance abuse, mental health and domestic violence.
"Same MAPS model, 1-cent temporary tax, but the subject matter can change to fit the times," Holt said Friday afternoon. "I think that's what's happening here with MAPS 4."
The city council's review sessions July 9, 11 and 31 and Aug. 6 will be open to the public. Besides the formal presentations, anyone with an idea will have a chance to speak.
The city council will settle on a list of projects to promise to voters who, should they agree, would authorize extending the 1-cent MAPS sales tax. Voters could be asked to extend the tax for seven or eight years to raise around $800 million.
An election could take place in December once the council makes its decisions, which could be settled as soon as Labor Day. Voters approved the first Metropolitan Area Projects, or MAPS, sales tax in 1993.
How MAPS 3 compares
MAPS 3 has raised more than $800 million in sales tax proceeds and interest since winning voters' support in December 2009.
Major construction projects are MAPS 3's most visible legacy. The convention center complex includes a luxury hotel and parking garage, with total public and private investment in the range of $550 million. MAPS 3 built the Oklahoma City Streetcar line and is building the new downtown park, both $130 million-plus projects.
MAPS 3 also has added to the trails system, built sidewalks — though not as many miles as originally envisioned — and has built two senior health and wellness centers, with two more expected to begin construction soon.
As the MAPS 3 sales tax was expiring in 2017, voters approved a MAPS for streets extension to raise about $240 million for street resurfacing and related improvements.
MAPS 4 sales tax collections could begin April 1, 2020, after the MAPS for streets extension expires.
On the sidelines
In his State of the City address in January, Holt listed projects he said seemed to have some traction after his October call to residents to "dream big" and submit their ideas, mostly through the ideasformaps.com website.
Among the ideas listed that day that appear to be out of the conversation: a streetcar extension, aerospace job training center and aquarium.
Holt proposed that day an endowment fund to produce income for ongoing expenses, such as operating costs and maintenance. That idea was well-received and remains alive.