Here in Oklahoma City we have this thing called MAPS. The acronym is for Metropolitan Area Projects.
We voted on the original MAPS in 1993 about the time I was in the process of moving away from the Oklahoma City area. A few of the original projects included what is now called the Oklahoma River, a canal through the Bricktown area, a baseball stadium, an arena, and a few other things.
1993 was still a tough year for a lot of us in the Oklahoma City area. I thought the entire MAPS proposal was inspired by something near lunacy if not worse. All together the projects were estimated to cost some $300 Million plus. It was to be funded by a temporary one cent sales tax.
Besides the economic issue of removing that much money from the local economy and spending money on absurdly crazy projects there was the very widespread distrust of our local government.
But that first MAPS passed much to my surprise. But I was more surprised when I returned to Oklahoma City in November 1998 and observed the changes wrought by MAPS. It wasn't only the physical construction projects that had changed the place either.
There was a change in attitude. People were more upbeat and there was a civic pride that had not been apparent to me before I left.
Next there was a program called MAPS For Kids that was designed a little like MAPS but was for metropolitan area schools.
Then there was a kind of mini-MAPS just a year or so ago to upgrade the downtown arena for a basketball team.
There is not a chance that I personally would have supported any of the projects undertaken by any of these measures.
In just a short time we'll vote on MAPS 3.
I would not support any of the projects proposed in MAPS 3 either. I am pretty certain I will never use any of the finished projects nor am I likely to personally benefit in any way.
And I admit that when I first heard about MAPS 3 I was skeptical and pretty negative.
But I've thought more about it and I've decided I want to continue what the original MAPS began.
The big MAPS 3 projects include a large downtown park, a downtown streetcar system, and a new convention center. Then there are several smaller projects. The total cost is estimated at $777 Million to be paid for by a one cent sales tax.
I think all those individual projects are crazy. I wouldn't spend a nickel for them. I'm pretty sure there is no way to prove any kind of economic return on any of them either with the possible exception of the convention center. And I suspect it is more likely negative.
But I'm going to vote yes to extend the sales tax.
I'm going to trust the City government to use the money wisely and in the same spirit as MAPS 1.
There's a lot of opposition to this new MAPS especially by the local fire fighters and police and a pretty vocal group of other assorted folks.
So I have no idea how this is going to turn out.
But I've made my decision.