I'm a firm believer that we should give credit where credit is due, and the City of Oklahoma City is due some credit. In a June commentary, I stated that, "Every major U.S. city to which we are losing graduates and professionals has a vibrant downtown living environment. For Oklahoma City, the key element to that equation is the 'Core to Shore' development." I've got to give Oklahoma City leaders credit for getting off to an outstanding start on the "shore" part of that equation.
I recently made the approximately 13-mile loop by bike from Meridian to Kelly and back along the Oklahoma River trail system, and I must say that I was very pleasantly surprised at what I found along the way. Access to the river area is quite simple by vehicle, and parking is ample. The trails are clearly marked, and maps are positioned at most entry points to guide your way. For the most part, the trails are well kept. With the exception of the geese along the river feeling all too confident that I wouldn't run over them, the Oklahoma River trails are a hit.
With the work that Chesapeake and Devon have done (or are doing) in terms of the regatta area, and top-notch bike and jogging trails, Oklahoma City is on its way to having a fantastic central river recreation area. But we're not finished yet.
I may have caught it on a bad day, but the trash around Wiley Post Park was excessive even for the less particular park patron. And there is not a crossover on either end of the river that allows one to take advantage of the river as a loop. When completing the river and central park, I'm quite certain city planners are mindful of these issues, which will contribute to the overall quality of the downtown Core to Shore development, but we have to stay diligent as patrons, voters and taxpayers to ensure that happens.
As a child, I recall hearing my grandparents comment on the trash along the highways and streets, and the potholes and rough roads that were almost as common in Oklahoma City as construction along Broadway Extension. This impression of a small element that speaks to the greater infrastructure of our city stuck in my mind as a young child, and those same small impressions " whether positive or negative " stick in the minds of visitors and residents alike.
MAPS 3 is full of grand plans, such as a new convention center and central park, but in the end, Oklahoma City is going to be the place we all want to continue to live and raise families because we're doing the little things right. Ensuring our parks and recreation areas are clean and green and accessible is a small element to a master plan that has the potential to have a significant impact on the future of this city.
Regardless of whether we're "Big League," "Little League" or "Bush League," Oklahoma City is a great place to call home because we honestly do have the greatest people in the world. And those same great people voted for MAPS 3 because they're ready to not only be "Big League," but to also have a city that can live up to its people. Mayor Mick Cornett and the Oklahoma City Council have the historic opportunity to see that happen, but as citizens of Oklahoma City we need to make sure they do just that.
Smith is an attorney living in Oklahoma City.