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Thread: Dear "Movers & Shakers" (an open letter)

  1. #1
    Patrick Guest

    Default Dear "Movers & Shakers" (an open letter)

    On his blog on Saturday, downtownguy presented an "Open letter" to the "Movers and Shakers" in our city. I'd like to repost it here with the hopes that city leaders like Mick Cornett, mayor, and Kim Searls at Downtown OKC, Inc. will view it.

    It can also be viewed at http://downtownguy.blogspot.com/.

    "Dear Movers and Shakers:

    First, let me sincerely kiss your ass. You deserve it. You’ve accomplished so much in the past decade, it’s sometimes easy for a lot of us to forget how far we’ve come. To Larry Nichols, president of Devon Energy, thank you for keeping your company in downtown Oklahoma City, when surely you face pressure to join the pack down in Houston. You’re a leader in this town, building both a company and a better downtown. In some ways, you’ve inherited the role that was molded by Dean A. McGee. That’s not to say we don’t also appreciate the continued leadership of Luke Corbett at Kerr-McGee. Likewise, you too have shown a continued commitment to our downtown – something we can’t take for granted.

    And to Cliff Hudson … wow, what can be said about Sonic’s continued growth and presence downtown? You’ve set up a new corporate headquarters that with its outdoor amphitheater is designed to interact with Bricktown. And that brings me to the architects – downtown’s passionate dreamers. Rand Elliott, Hans Buetzer, Anthony McDermid, Don Beck (ok, he’s split now between here and Tulsa), Haven Mankin, Randy Floyd, Tom Wilson, the list goes on. They are the artists who are trying preserve what we already have, while also trying to create the skyline of our future.

    The Bricktown dreamers can’t be forgotten. Sure, they shoot themselves in the foot by sometimes charging $10 to park, but where would we be without Jim Brewer, Chuck Ainsworth, Jim Tolbert, and the McLain family. And here’s to the merchants – the Jim Cowans, the Kenny Walkers, the Tim and Alison Sassons… And how can we sum up the impact of the John Q. Hammons and Randy Hogans?

    The elected officials are still showing support for downtown, even if their major focus is shifting back to the neighborhoods. They include just about everybody on the city council, County Commissioner Jim Roth, Rep. Debbie Blackburn and many others. And to the guys who work behind the scenes, John Williams and Dan and Leslie Batchelor, I promise I won’t tell anyone you exist.

    What will be created next by the artists? What’s being dreamed up by Carolyn Hill, Suzanne Owens, Liz Eichman, Joel Levine and others?

    Finally, let’s not forget the leadership provided the Greater Oklahoma City Chamber of Commerce, Downtown OKC Inc., Automobile Alley and other groups.

    You’ve all addressed so many of the ugly shortfalls that marred our image for so long. Without you, the Air Force Monument would still be crumbling, an embarrassment to our city. Reno in Bricktown would still be a zig-zag that forces confused visitors to cross over abandoned tracks and switch from lane to another. We would have none of the information kiosks or direction or identity signage that make getting around downtown so much easier than it once was. Public art would still be something we could only wish for.

    OK, so a lot of you hopefully now like me. Now that we’re friends, I need to confront you about something. Our expectations have been raised. And it seems like you’re starting to drag a bit on getting some things done.

    Two years ago you promised a makeover of Couch Drive Park and the Conncourse. I know complications pop up, but when are we going to see something happen? The entryways into downtown from I-235 and I-40. After all that’s been said and done, can’t we do anything about this?

    A couple of landmark buildings, meanwhile, need some attention. I know it won’t be easy or expensive to address the First National Tower (see www.theoklahoman.blogspot.com for more on this thought), or the old Rock Island Plow building in Bricktown. But why can’t anyone make anything happen with the Marion Hotel property at NW 10, or the old warehouse across the street? Or the flat iron building across from Elliott + Associates?

    Oh, by the way, we must do something more about signage. I know you’re feeling good about what’s already been done, but do you have any idea how many people can’t figure out if they’re stepping into the Civic Center, City Hall or the Court House? They’re all gorgeous examples of Art Deco design. But they’re so similar… My suggestion is to take a cue from the new sign built outside the Civic Center last year. Duplicate it, even at a smaller size, in front of City Hall and the Courthouse. Maybe you could do these as Centennial projects. The City Hall sign could promote events at public venues, while the county sign could display information about upcoming county projects and initiatives.

    Yes, I know these things take money, a lot of it. Make more of those “Up” shirts and sell them. Find ways to make those district logos produce dollars for you. See if you can strike a deal to sell images of downtown for cell phones (that’s the latest craze). Also, revisit ideas that were brought up during the downtown master plan meetings. At www.okctalk.com, one poster, “Metro,” is trying to drum up interest in an electronic Times Square style billboard that could be installed around the corner of the Trigen plan, covering a boring structure and adding excitement to one of downtown’s most important corridors. You’ve built up some momentum downtown, maybe it’s time to see if it will generate money.

    Are you doing everything possible to get development to continue? Have you done everything possible to ensure Mike Henderson will build the new Legacy apartments? Can we entice Braum’s to build a new store downtown, with the grocery section, now that their I-40 and Agnew store was closed to make way for the new highway?

    And whatever happened to converting the one-way streets to two-way streets? Will that take as long as the Walnut Street bridge?

    Okay, okay, here are some simple requests. Update the decades old Conncourse maps. Do something simple at least, while we’re waiting for the renovation to begin. Do a weekly sweep of graffiti, calling it in to the city’s action line as soon as it pops up. Make sure the street lights work. Take a glance at some of the streets where have barricades and cones up, like in front of the county office building, and ask yourself, are these really necessary? Why are they there, and what kind of impression are we making? (note to Sheriff Whetsel: do you really think cones and tape will stop a Tim McVeigh from blowing up a building?) And to the people at Urban Renewal: the property records show that you own that abandoned parking lot with overgrown weeds and leftover construction debris on Northeast Second. Is this really in keeping with an agency that is supposed to promote downtown redevelopment?

    Yes, I know I’m demanding. But we’re all friends, right?

    Sincerely, with love, The Downtown Guy

  2. #2

    Default Re: Dear "Movers & Shakers" (an open letter)

    Great blog. Yeah, the cones in front of the county building boggle the mind. That was good parking!

    And now they have all of the spots on Hudson by the courthouse taped off... Good thing I live close enough to park at home and walk over.

  3. #3
    Patrick Guest

    Default Re: Dear "Movers & Shakers" (an open letter)

    As downtownguy mentioned, it isn't like those cones are going to stop a Ryder truck from parking there momentarily.

  4. #4

    Default Re: Dear "Movers & Shakers" (an open letter)

    Quote Originally Posted by Patrick
    As downtownguy mentioned, it isn't like those cones are going to stop a Ryder truck from parking there momentarily.
    The only reason I can think of that they might be removing the parking there would be to widen the road. I think they need to resurface the road -- at least on the county building's side before they can turn it into a lane. Around the hours of 9 and 5, that parking garage on Kerr and Hudson is a nightmare. Once the new OG&E garage gets finished, insanity will surely ensue -- although that garage shouldn't be near as bad since Hudson is one-way and Kerr is 2-way.

    As for downtown, the one-way streets make traffic flow MUCH smoother unless there is construction, which right now there is a lot of construction. A veritable pain in the butt.

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