This past week, current Mayor Mick Cornett unfurled a new patch of completed sidewalks in Northern Oklahoma City and this celebration was posted on his personal, 2014 OKC Mayoral Campaign related Twitter acct, @MickCornett.
My@cultiv8hope interjection went without reply.
MAPS3 is a collection of citywide improvements under bond that has some interesting history. It is third in a series of projects to improve Oklahoma City. The prior two projects brought forward many changes in the city, and there have been accolades regarding the 'completion of projects as promised' for things like schools and roads.
MAPS3 as a unit has a case of wierdness... but look merely today at this whole issue of sidewalks.
Oklahoma City stopped providing sidewalks for the public fairly early on. No money was alotted to repair, or install sidewalks citywide after the 1940's, maybe as late as the 1960's it was cut to the quick. It is also true, that no developer was required to install sidewalks. Being driven by oil and gas interests, operation of automobiles was the goal, so there are many broad boulevards and some meaningless roads in general. But no sidewalks.
When the MAPS3 project generated interest, one point was the advent or repair of sidewalks. Some of that based upon the absence, a goal for increased fitness and some awareness that gas is expensive, not everyone has a car and City streets certainly look more uniform accompanied by sidewalks.
Projects like sidewalks, or buildings or pools or whatever require that speculations of required need (what does the buyer want, where and what is it supposed to do or look like) be drafted and provided to prospective contractors. Like a blueprint for a building, for instance. The buyer wants it built, the builder's job is to plan and execute.
The contractor is the construction company that agrees to build out the dream, whatever it is. It is implied the contractor has expertise in 1.) planning and 2.) executing the project according to an agreement. They provide the 3.) labor and 4.) materials, 5.) supervision and 6.) equipment. The project has a dollar amount and period over which it is to be paid from the buyer to the contractor, and from contractor to laborers. The deal also includes a TIME BY WHICH IT WILL BE COMPLETED for the buyer and OKC sidewalks don't have to be done until 2014. I don't know about what date.
So, multiple contractors who do things like build sidewalks, put up their conceptualized plan with an attached dollar amount to provide the requested sidewalks BASED UPON THE DATA THEY ARE GIVEN. By someone from from the City of Oklahoma City. This is called bidding and there is free competition amongst the contractors so that the deal is not wrongly given to someone because it is their bubba, or cousin or other 'owed' job. I have no idea if the bids are sealed or if they can be reviewed by the public prior to the contract decision.
It isn't completely clear how this happened, but a bid was accepted and signed for.. by an administrator or administrative body representing Oklahoma City. The City of Oklahoma City accepted the bid from the contractor.They struck and signed on a business deal on sidewalks.
The following are structural and systemic gaffs signature(s) bought. ( Might want to check a prior article in this series to see what the job is of the MAYOR of Oklahoma City or any city if this is a question for you as you read this).
Miles and miles of sidewalks were promised under the dollar amount alotted by MAPS3. First gaff was that the current City regulations are that sidewalks have to be 6 ft wide. The bid from the contractor was based upon 4 ft specs. REDUCE the sidewalks promised to appear by MILES. Miles.
Second MAPS3 gaff for sidewalks is that the City is accountable, in any location it was to implement the walks, for repair or replacement of poorly laid or dilapidated water pipes, drain pipes and gas lines lying under existing walks.
The third MAPS3 gaff for sidewalks is that the City is accountable for reinstating curb sequences on stylized drives which might be damaged by constructions. Or to build around them, which causes increased footage, incomplete walks and counter intuitive routes that are actually fairly dangerous in inclement weather or when travelling at night.
The fourth MAPS3 is with the shortened list, just who gets to go first? All parties on the current to do list have mysterious, or well, no qualifications that determine who will go first. Certainly there is no method determined by a public vote or formal policy structure that determines required need.
The fifth MAPS3 gaff is that there apparently also was no bid for any supplemental federal monies for same, and no cooperative request that communities who could pay for their own sidewalk installation or repair in whole or in part be asked to do so.
The photo sequence that accompanies this article is of my neighborhood, The Flower Garden Park District https://www.facebook.com/FlowerGardenParkOKC . There are other intown, multi-cultural, multi-ethnic neighborhoods which suffer the same problems.
But some unique facts accompany this general area are as follows:
1.) many people in this area do not own or have access to a vehicle whatsoever. some of us are just green: and bike, walk or lease a vehicle as need be.
2.) many people who live in this area are students, first point of entry UN war refugees or other immigrants and young families. all people who need to able to travel safely with out fear of being mowed down. Some possibly don't have a political voice due to age, immigrant status and understanding of community systems.
3.) ANY shopping for the area is wholly inaccessible by any version of paved walks, in any direction. N S E W. See the hand drawn map. Please understand that to go North to Belle Isle, means crossing 6 lanes of full blown 65mph highway. To go East, to Horace Mann School is 6 lanes of 40 mph boulevard. For the very young, for the elderly, for the disabled, for those travelling with a stroller or a grocery cart, on bike or by scooter, the absence of a protected lane, absence of any hand controlled signal light and no sidewalk is an invitation for risk and potential death. Every day. Every time one has to go to get something or someone or go play.
4.) the shopping to the North at Belle Isle is destination shopping for many people in OKC, and it is the #1 hot spot for boarding and deboarding the #MetroTransit OKC public transit system, aside from the MetroTransit downtown hub.
5.) The property for shopping to the North is the Penn Square Mall, and the Belle Isles Plaza. Food, clothing, other supplies, recreational activities.
MAPS3 completed sidewalks are a boon to the areas they are serving for property value and recreation, but honestly, I rarely see sidewalks completed in areas where they connect people to the life giving services of food and supplies, jobs,schools, recreation and medical care.
I ride a bike or walk every day as a commuter. I don't own a car currently. The most beautiful of sidewalks that I see is the stretch across 13th street from North Classen where my office is over to Broadway, and well, beyond even. I no longer have to get off and on my bike to get down this street, and it is possible to get around easily on this continuous sidewalk.
But the lights at my street corner ( 13th and North Classen ) for all these swanky walks are not connected for protected crossing and that sidewalk down 13th, which will eventually serve the new beautiful multi use high rise there at Walker will be great, for joggers and excercising people. That building isn't projected for occupation until late 2014, maybe even 2015. Virtually noone uses this sidewalk and it currently connects to no life giving services I am aware of , except the immedate housing project very near 13th and North Classen, but not East for 1+miles.
Dr. Ed Shadid is my kindly City Council person. Councilor.(wait that is a person who guides and advises... hmmm.) Dr. Ed Shadid does receive any and all feedback from my district regarding issues of safety, and need with the patience of a saint and over time, increasing information has highlighted the importance of a better plan for the area. To date, we are fortunate there has not been a fatality, but the extreme risk is present in so many places.
Unfortunately, Dr. Ed Shadid has been unable to aid us with the issues of these missing sidewalks for much of North Classen from my office at 13th all the way down to the Belle Isle Plaza,( Old Classen Circle/Classen Crawl) and criss-crossing the neighborhood, all because of the unchecked deal signed by Mayor Mick Cornett? Faulty math? Sigh.......
Dr. Ed Shadid has been currently unable to address the questions we have. Hands tied for an immediate response. But what about a better day, sustaining response?
Dr. Ed Shadid has done an awesome job of suggested that these errors require that the problems on this and other MAPS3 pending projects be 1.) publicly explained in detail, and that 2.) remaining culled monies for these projects be put back to the 3.) public in a vote....to determine the most 4.) effective, efficient and productive use of culled funds.
Some aspects of the MAPS3 plan are merely failed. Let's get on with an accurate read. Proceeding with failed.... what is that adage, doing the same thing and expecting different results.... that is a mental status exam RIGHT THERE! Just like the Trolley/Tram discussions... hmm.
A public revisitation of these gaffs may allow people to see the way MAPS3 monies were dealt in glaring errors (like these deadly no intown sidewalk problems putting little kids and the stay at home Mom's who escort them watch at risk.)
And reassign these dollars to a more IMMEDIATE function that serves the desires and needs of the public.
Exacting function, practiced as a mature professionally trained and licensed physician in surgical intervention contributes to Dr. Ed Shadid's ability to seek comprehensive data on just about any subject, either on his own or under direction of persons who do specialize in whatever topics he has faced as a member of the Oklahoma City Council. But the public has to understand that BEFORE there was a Dr. Ed Shadid, there was an emerging political scientist, who has kept this study of paths and problem solving alive on the back burner.
Two careers at once. Wow. For public betterment in his hometown. Wow. Just Wow. Dealing the wellness and safety card first, dovetailed with fiscal responsibility and sustaining stability. Sounds like a great plan.
Being principled ( http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/principled ) surely aids Dr. Ed Shadid in repeatedly seconding the voices of concerned citizens dealing with the sidewalk gaffs that stand to result in fatalities because they haven't been recognized as core infrastructure to a growing city for the last 13 years of growth.