$30 million question

The budgets were presented to each of the eight MAPS 3 project subcommittees July 26 and 27, and came before the MAPS 3 Citizens Advisory Board July 28.

Within those preliminary proposed budgets was $252 million for the convention center, the largest and most expensive of the MAPS 3 projects.

The exact amount of money going toward the convention center has long been an elephant in the room, as city and MAPS 3 staff have operated under the assumption that $250 million would be used for the convention center, while those on the convention center subcommittee and other boards have stated that the public was promised a $280 million convention center.

The argument comes down to an OGE substation south of downtown that sits on the original site suggested by the 2008 Core to Shore plan for the convention center. This location, one of the sites the mayor previously endorsed, is just east of the future MAPS 3 park.

Very little was mentioned about moving the substation in the run-up to the MAPS 3 election in late 2009, but Mayor Mick Cornett (pictured) later said that $30 million was added into the convention center budget specifically to move the substation to make room for the convention center, and if the convention center was not going to go on that site, to move the substation away from the MAPS 3 park.

“The issue was, do we take that $30 million figure and create sort of a ninth initiative?” Cornett told Oklahoma Gazette in 2010. “That didn’t seem to fall in line with what we had done with MAPS or MAPS for Kids. Because the convention center … might sit on that site, I made the decision to put that into the convention center budget and increase it from $250 million to $280 million.”

However, the convention center subcommittee chose a different location just south of the Myriad Gardens, and the question of whether the project would still get the $30 million intended for the substation move has hung in the air ever since.

Click through to download the MAPS 3 Implementation Plan from the recent Subcomittees and Citizens Advisory Board Presentation.

In the budget presentation by Architectural Design Group, the city-hired consultant for MAPS 3, the $30 million in question was placed in an infrastructure/contingency fund.“We have always had the $30 million as a separate number and have been instructed to use $250 million for the convention center,” said Mike Mize of ADG.

That did not go over well with the convention center subcommittee.

“If we adopt this, we’re cutting $30 million out of our budget,” said former mayor and current subcommittee member Kirk Humphreys.

“All that was told to voters was $280 million. Had we gone to the voters and said, ‘We want to spend $250 million on a convention center and $30 million on moving a substation,’ we wouldn’t be having this discussion.”

Eric
Wenger, MAPS 3 program manager, said the Oklahoma City Council has not
given direction on what to do with the $30 million, and that the money
is not going away.

“It’s
not been reduced or removed from the MAPS 3 program; it’s very much a
part of the $777 million. It’s to be decided at a point appropriate as
the council sees fit,” Wenger said.

Ward
1 Councilman Gary Marrs, who attended the subcommittee meeting and also
sits on the Citizens Advisory Board, told the subcommittee it should go
ahead with the $280 figure and let the advisory board and council work
out the $30 million question.

“If
I was this committee, I would stick with the fact that you had a $280
million budget. I would get the discussion of the $30 million away from
this committee,” Marrs told the group. “Lord knows you’ve got enough
people looking over this committee as it is, and I would get it into the
advisory board.”

The
subcommittee unanimously voted to amend the budget recommendation to
move the $30 million out of the contingency/infrastructure fund and into
the convention center budget and sent its recommendation of the budget
to the Citizens Advisory Board.

Once
the recommendation reached the Citizens Advisory Board, a motion by
board member Michael Dover to accept ADG’s recommendation without
amendment failed to garner a second, but a motion by board member Rusty
LaForge to forward the recommendation to the City Council with the
convention center subcommittee amendments, as well as other minor
amendments by other subcommittees, was approved with only Dover
dissenting.

The
issue now heads to the City Council, although Wenger said the issue
likely won’t come before the council until at least Aug. 16.

Clifton Adcock

This material falls under the archives category because it was imported from our previous website. It will eventually be filtered into the proper category as time allows.

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