By Patrick B. McGuigan
Officials in Oklahoma City — third-largest municipality in land area (621 square miles) and 31st most populous city in America — are holding public discussions as part of a process to anticipate urban growth in the coming decades.
Workshops for the “planOKC” process are set for Tuesday evening, September 20, and Friday afternoon, September 23. The first session is 5:30 p.m. in the Student Center’s south conference room at OSU-OKC, 900 N Portland Ave. The second is 3 p.m., at the Education Center of the Oklahoma City Zoo, 2101 NE 50 St.
Assistant Planning Director Susan Miller said, “We will develop goals to respond to the overarching issues that were identified in the first phase of the public input process. The workshop will include a short introduction and instructions, after which attendees will be free to work on goal development at their own pace.” City officials said anyone is welcome to attend. Format and content will be the same at both workshops.
Ward 2 City Councilman Ed Shadid facilitated the presence of “line officers” in city government for a Sept. 7 meeting focused on sprawl issues.
The meeting included City Manager Jim Couch, Police Chief Bill Citty, Fire Chief Keith Bryant, Planning Director Russell Claus, Public Works Director Eric Wenger, Public Transportation and Parking Director Rick Cain, Code Enforcement Director Charles Locke, and Utilities Director Marsha Slaughter.
Detailed presentations, including in most cases power point graphics, were highlights of Councilman Shadid’s publicized his event widely with his own resources. The document “planOKC,” and urban sprawl concerns were the primary focus of the evening.
The Shadid meeting drew nearly 700 people, and dozens lingered long after it ended to chat with city officials and each other.
Shadid’s remarks were wide-ranging and “holistic” in scope. He discussed ways in which managed use of resources might improve public health in general, and combat the scourge of obesity in particular.
Ending the evening event he organized at the Marriott Northwest Expressway, Shadid encouraged attendees to remain involved on infrastructure, planning, and “sprawl” issues. He issued a call for participants to “buy local” – patronizing local businesses and restaurants, where the sales tax payments directly go to local government coffers to finance transit, infrastructure and other services.
According to a description from the city government, “planokc is a document used by city leaders, developers, business owners, and citizens to make decisions about Oklahoma City’s future growth and development. It establishes a policy framework for where, how, and in some cases when development should occur.”
Information about the planning process and the upcoming workshops is available at www.planokc.org or call 297-2283. Shadid’s reflections on local issues, and information about events such as the recent community meeting, appear regularly at edshadid.org