As you may or may not know, there are discussions, meetings and forums to allow citizens the ability to voice their concerns about what needs to be included in the next round of MAPS. I have decided to take a different approach " what should not be in MAPS.
First, I think MAPS 3 needs to be something that has a sunset clause. I think "MAPS" as a brand needs to have an expiration date.
This should be it " no more "MAPS for Riverboats," "MAPS for Cleanup of Jessica Alba's Vandalism," "MAPS for Gov. Henry's Retirement." When this final piece of MAPS comes together, please let the tax get its sunset.
First of all, MAPS 3 should not just be something that is downtown driven.
Oklahoma City has a great downtown, we are having rowing competitions on the Oklahoma River, classic car shows at Bass Pro, and just about every evening there is a crowd in Bricktown.
Most of the "citizens" of Oklahoma City, people calling Oklahoma City their home, do not live in downtown Oklahoma City. In fact, I would say a conservative estimate is 80 to 90 percent of people live outside the downtown area.
Oklahoma City has several thriving surrounding areas " for example, Mustang/Yukon, Edmond and Moore " that are growing without the direct benefits of having something from MAPS in their area.
So, if MAPS 3 is supposed to help bring people from all parts of the city together, what can be the mechanism for that?
Light rail and mass transit? Is that the answer?
I worked for Rep. Ernest Istook for seven years; I have studied the pros and cons of light rail and mass transit for a long time. Light rail and mass transit systems are expensive, but I think it is about time we look at them under a brand new light.
When Atlanta originally put in their mass transit lines, called the Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority (MARTA), they tried basic routes, which were originally derided, but now it has grown as the city has grown, and their transit system is lauded by many.
If we are to put in mass transit and light rail, it needs to be funded by the people who use it, and the municipalities that it incorporates into its system.
MAPS 3 should not just be a solution to a problem that does not exist. It should not just be a blank check that gets filled in later.
Ironically, light rail and mass transit placed highest on Mayor Mick Cornett's outreach to find out what people wanted with MAPS 3. "Transit (light rail, streetcars, etc.)" led the way with 668 recommendations.
The good news is, Cornett and the City Council are well tuned to these sensitivities, and they know there is some goodwill built up from MAPS and MAPS for Kids. They surely do not want to waste it, and they want to make sure it is done right.
Taxpayers of Oklahoma City know they want to keep the momentum going, they want to keep progressing. They don't want to fall behind other cities of our size. But, we as taxpayers don't want to be taken advantage of either.
Loveless, a former state Senate candidate, is the CEO of Phoenix Consulting and the business manager for Loveless Orthopedic and Custom Footwear.