View Full Version : Let's follow Oklahoma City's path to success in Jacksonville

02-14-2010, 12:19 AM
Not sure if this is a repost....

Let's follow Oklahoma City's path to success in Jacksonville | (

Let's follow Oklahoma City's path to success in Jacksonville

* By Ron Littlepage
* Story updated at 1:33 PM on Monday, Feb. 8, 2010

As many of you know, I'm originally from Texas.

Those familiar with that great state know there's a rivalry with the area to the north called Oklahoma, among other names.

Oklahomans don't have kind things to say about Texas, and Texans don't have kind things to say about Oklahoma.

Now that I've called Jacksonville home for 31 years, I'm proud of this city and want it to progress, so imagine the discomfort I felt reading two recent articles in The New York Times holding up Oklahoma City as a model.

One was headlined: "A Downtown Becomes Full of Life Again."

Oklahoma City?

One of the articles pointed out that in the 1990s, Oklahoma City's downtown was struggling: The only hotel downtown was about to close and the convention center's roof leaked.

"Our city was dying," Ronald Norick, who was mayor at the time, told the Times. "You could shoot a cannon at 5 p.m. and you wouldn't hit anybody."

Sound familiar?

How did Oklahoma City turn its downtown around? According to the Times, "Much of the revival of downtown is being financed by taxpayers, who have a history of approving taxes to improve their city."

The Times reported that in 1993, voters approved a temporary one-cent increase in the sales tax and used the money "to redevelop the riverfront, renovate the fairgrounds and build a ballpark, sports arena, library trolley system and a mile-long canal."

That, too, sounds familiar, but Oklahoma City didn't stop there.

Last December, the Times said, voters approved a $777 million tax package that will pay for "a 70-acre central park, convention center, street car system, aquatic centers, boating facilities and trails that will be built in the next nine years."

"Initially, we took a city that was a nice place to live and raise a family, but not a great place to visit," the current mayor, Mick Cornett, told the Times. "We've now created a city that we want to show off and we're proud of."

A second Times article touting Oklahoma City - yes, Oklahoma City - as a great place to visit said this:

"The riverfront has come alive since 1999, when a canal was completed to attract visitors. A derelict warehouse area has been transformed into Bricktown, a lively focal point for night life, teeming with homegrown jazz and blues joints served by taxi boats."

Oklahoma City, being in Oklahoma, isn't exactly located in the middle of a garden spot. And the Oklahoma River that runs through it is OK, but it's no St. Johns River.

As we look for ways to revitalize Jacksonville's downtown and take better advantage of the St. Johns, we may want to look to Oklahoma City as an example of what can be done with a plan the citizens buy into and have the commitment to get it done.

Geez, being a Texan, that was painful to write.,

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02-14-2010, 12:21 AM
i read this in sunday's times union and was pleasantly surprised! good to know that my hometown's efforts to improve are not going unnoticed.

02-14-2010, 01:19 AM
Lol.. he had to add in that he was from texas..

02-14-2010, 08:18 AM
There was a previous thread on this article, but I can't seem to find it. You can definitely tell the author begrudgingly wrote it.

02-14-2010, 10:49 AM
Seems like the NY Times and the Jacksonville media have really "discovered" OKC.

02-14-2010, 11:42 AM
Not to change the subject, but I'm going to Seattle next weekend for a wedding, I think I'll pick up a couple of OKC Thunder t-shirts to wear.

02-14-2010, 12:00 PM
you should junkie! see what kind of reaction you get!

02-14-2010, 01:34 PM
Not to change the subject, but I'm going to Seattle next weekend for a wedding, I think I'll pick up a couple of OKC Thunder t-shirts to wear.

I had a friend who did that last year when we were in town for the OU-Washington game. Prepare to be called an a-hole.

02-14-2010, 08:54 PM
I think you would be surprised. The majority of people in Seattle are incredibly laid back and chill, even dare I say, mellow. And who wouldn't be, if they lived in a place that just absolutely has, "got it goin on?"

Just be sure and share with people how much you're enjoying their incredible city, and they may even level with you on your enjoyment of having the Thunder. The whole NBAgate thing was really contentious for a few years..and OKC won two really ironic "contests" against Seattle and New Orleans, two cities you wouldn't normally see competing head-to-head with OKC.

02-15-2010, 07:11 AM
As a resident of Jacksonville for the past 6 years I can say Jax could never pull off an OKC style MAPS project. In fact, we already have the Better Jacksonville Plan which is 1 cent sales tax for 20 years and it is full of problems. There are not enough people in Jax that care one iota about downtown Jacksonville. Because the city merged with the county, a large percentage of Jacksonville residents live in what are essentially the suburbs even if they are still inside the Jax city limits. This is a lesson OKC needs to learn and deannex land before all political power shift away from the urban core.

This story shouldn't be about how Jax can learn from OKC, it should be a story about how OKC can learn from Jax.

02-15-2010, 09:44 PM
kerry, i've lived in jax for 4 years now, and i totally agree with what you said! the only "destination" downtown is the landing (which i've never been to). and it seems that it will be that way at least for the forseeable future. nobody in this city cares about downtown, or going downtown, unless they're going to the landing or dive bar. there is one event that happens once a month in downtown jax that i wish would be done in OK City. the art walk is really fun, it gets people to come downtown, and it's a great evening out on the town. other than that, the only time i go downtown is driving through from the mathews to the westside. there's no other reason for me to be there. it's really kind of sad.

02-16-2010, 06:15 AM
My wife and I have been discussing this very subject for the last few months. Jacksonville has done the very same things OKC has done: new downtown arena, new downtown baseball stadium, professional sports, the river, new downtown Library, The Landing, heck - Jax even has a downtown rail system and multiple high-rise residential buildings - but no one goes there - ever. She thinks (and I agree) that it is nothing other than vast number of homeless people in downtown Jax. No one wants to walk in an area where you are asked for money by 20 people when they can go to the St. Johns Town Center and walk, dine, and shop hassle-free.