Mayor David Holt discusses how MAPS 4 would be different

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OKLAHOMA CITY - The landscape of downtown Oklahoma City is much different today from 25 years ago.

The 80s were hit with economic turmoil from failed banks, a depressed oil industry and businesses choosing to go to other cities.

It's the reason former Mayor Ron Norick led the charge for a tax incentivized program, a project we now know as MAPS.

"We were trying to attract jobs. Trying to bring industry in and nobody wanted to come, and we figured it out that it was really a quality of life issue,” former mayor Ron Norick said.

But now, two decades and three MAPS projects later, Oklahoma City has a new look. It’s one that Mayor David Holt wants to continue to transform.

"This time I think it will be focused on neighborhoods and human needs across the city, but I think it will also be transformational,” Oklahoma City Mayor David Holt said.

That's represented by the special meetings going on at city hall. There's a focus on mental health, homelessness, and domestic violence, to name a few.

Experts in each industry making a case to city hall about why they should get funding from MAPS 4.

"It seems like that's where people's heads are. That's what the ideas are. That's where the support has been, that's what the council who has obviously been elected by the public has been talking about,” Holt said.

Like a new animal shelter, more sidewalks, multipurpose stadium and replacing a crumbling building.

"You either need to have council support, you need to have broad public support or maybe you just need to be very necessary. Something like the State Fair coliseum is an example of that. It's like, falling in,” Holt said.

Mayor Holt says this time around he wants to include maintenance cost in MAPS 4.

"Money set aside in investments funds that spin off a small amount of money but an expected amount of money of about four percent a year to deal with some of the operation and maintenance of these projects,” Holt said.

The mayors who spearheaded past MAPS projects believe Mayor Holt has a challenge ahead of him.

"I think Mayor Holt has a big challenge of trying to put his arms around the political changes going on and getting the city council to agree to a list of projects,” former Mayor Mick Cornett said.

"Mayor Holt and city council will come up with their vision, and I'll be supportive of that,” Norick said.

And that's why Holt is relying on community input to help decide what the best use is for their taxpayer dollars for what he believes is the most transparent process in the program's history.

"It was really my insistence that we have that discussion out in the public, that there be no surprises the day that we announce what MAPS 4 is, that everything that's a part of MAPS 4 is something you'd heard of before,” Mayor Holt said.

And the mayors of yesterday are looking forward to seeing what the future brings.

"I think it's time for a new mayor and a new generation, a new city, to define what means quality of life to them. And that's the process I see our mayor leading our city through," former Mayor Kirk Humphreys said.

Right now, the penny sales tax is funding “Better Streets, Safer City” initiative. That expires next March.

If MAPS 4 is passed by voters, it would extend that tax, meaning taxes will not increase.

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