Oklahoma city voters once again have the opportunity to assess themselves a one-cent sales tax designed to improve the quality of life in the state’s capital.
A Dec. 10 special election will seek approval of the fourth round of Metropolitan Area Projects, commonly called MAPS 4. The 16 projects would be funded by $978 million in projected taxes, raised over eight years. Passage would not change the city sales tax rate because that extra penny has been in place since the first MAPS surcharge in 1993, according to okc.gov/maps4.
City leaders conceived the first MAPS in the 1980s after Oklahoma City lost out on an airline maintenance hub because employees didn’t want to live there. Initial projects included the Chickasaw Bricktown Ballpark, Bricktown Canal, Cox Convention Center, Chesapeake Energy Arena, Civic Center Music Hall and Oklahoma River (a transformation of a 7-mile stretch of the gulch-like North Canadian River).
MAPS for Kids built and renovated school buildings and funded new buses and technology upgrades. MAPS 3 projects, some still underway, include the OKC Streetcar, downtown’s new convention center, Scissortail Park, senior health and wellness centers, and improvements at State Fair Park and along the Oklahoma River.
City officials presented MAPS 4 ideas at town hall meetings in July and August, and Mayor David Holt worked with the city council to devise a list that was approved by the council Aug. 27, says Kristy Yager, director of public information and marketing.
The list of projects is “ambitious and unique,” according to the city’s Maps 4 website. “More than 70 percent of the funding is dedicated to neighborhood and human needs … as well as quality-of-life and job-creating initiatives.”
Council member Nikki Nice says a number of the proposals would benefit Ward 7, which she represents. A new park, a statue of author and OKC native Ralph Ellison, and the Freedom Center and Clara Luper Civil Rights Center are targeted for northeast Oklahoma City. Citywide projects would also help Ward 7, she says, such as the initiative to help house homeless people, general beautification and 1,000 new streetlights.
“Originally it was 500; I asked that we double it,” Nice says. “Ward 7 will definitely show up for the election. I’ll be voting yes because I know it will benefit the community [where] I grew up. I’m looking forward to what’s to come.”
MAPS 4 Projects
Parks $140 million
The proposal would upgrade every city park outside the central business district and create parks in Canadian and Cleveland counties, southeast Oklahoma City and far northeast Oklahoma City. Oklahoma River improvements would include a pedestrian bridge and boat landing to serve the American Indian Cultural Center and Museum.
Chesapeake Energy Arena
and related facilities $115 million
Funding would address capital maintenance and enhance fan and tenant areas.
Youth centers $110 million
At least four new youth centers would offer arts, athletics, family, health and education programs.
Transit $87 million
The package would add lighting at every bus stop, build about 500 Americans with Disabilities Act-compliant shelters, and pay for additional buses, park-and-ride facilities and new rapid transit lines.
Sidewalks, bike lanes, trails
and streetlights $87 million
Residents would get 1,000 new streetlights. New sidewalks and trails would come with amenities such as landscaping, restrooms, fountains and public art.
Innovation district $71 million
The creation of a center for business development and entrepreneurship would serve minority-owned businesses.
Fairgrounds coliseum $63 million
The project would replace the aging Jim Norick Arena at State Fair Park.
Homelessness $50 million
An investment in affordable housing, designed to reduce homelessness, would be linked with services from existing providers.
and addiction $40 million
Proposed are two new mental-health crisis centers, a restoration center to include methamphetamine detoxification and substance abuse services, and temporary housing for people moving out of a crisis center.
Family justice center
operated by Palomar $38 million
Funding would create a permanent facility. Palomar assists victims of domestic violence, sexual assault and human trafficking and supports children exposed to trauma.
Animal shelter $38 million
A new animal shelter would be the main location for the intake, adoption and care of animals by OKC Animal Welfare.
Multipurpose stadium $37 million
The facility would be for professional and college soccer, high school football and soccer, concerts and other events.
wellness centers $30 million
A fifth senior wellness center would be built and a scholarship fund created for low-income seniors using the centers.
Beautification $30 million
Projects proposed are city entrance areas along interstates, at least $1 million worth of trees and a statue of OKC native and author Ralph Ellison.
Freedom Center and Clara Luper Civil Rights Center $25 million
The community gathering place would also serve as a civil-rights museum.
Diversion hub $17 million
The program would offer low-level offenders a diversion away from time behind bars.