The Edmond Sun


August 21, 2012

Gathering touts 'New Urbanism'

OKLAHOMA CITY — The issue of the future development of the Oklahoma City area was addressed at a recent gathering that was convened by Oklahoma City Councilman Dr. Ed Shadid. The event included  presentations by Shadid, Mark Lenters, whose firm constructs roundabouts, and former Milwaukee Mayor John Norquist, who is now affiliated with an entity known as the “Congress of New Urbanism.”

Shadid spoke of how when urban renewal took place in Oklahoma City, planning decisions were made in favor of cars and not people, and cited a recent walkability study that concluded the city is not hospitable to walking or biking, and that its problem was not too much traffic but too much roadway. He also pointed out that a mass transit system is currently planned for downtown Oklahoma  CIty, and that it will serve the increasing number of people who are choosing to live in the  downtown area, and that it in time it may extend to Edmond and the city’s other suburbs.

Lenters' presentation included a live feed to a roundabout his company had constructed in Nova Scotia, Canada, several years ago, and he pointed out to the attendees that they could see how it serves to reduce the speed of the vehicles who used it and kept traffic moving. Roundabouts, Lenters said, reduce the number of collisions that occur on roadways. He reported that the Colorado communities of Vail and Avon have both built several roundabouts in recent years and that they are working well.

Norquist began his presentation by saying that he was impressed with the Bricktown Canal, and how that the old buildings that surround it preserve part of Oklahoma City’s past. The former mayor explained that the “new urbanism” is an effort that is being led by a variety of urban planners and civic leaders who want to bring people back to the nation’s urban cores. He faulted the zoning that had been put in place in most cities after the Second World War that created separate areas for housing, shopping and recreation and highways that often went through their urban core.

These efforts were designed to make cities less congested, and they were successful to the point that most downtown areas became sterile environments that were only hospitable to automobile traffic, Norquist said. He cited as an example the city of Detroit, which in 1946 was one of the most successful cities in the world, but now has 35 percent of its land vacant.

In recent years, Milwaukee’s former chief executive reported, people and commerce are beginning to return to downtown areas, and retail firms such as Walmart and Target are now opening smaller stores in cities across the country.

Mass transit systems are part of the new urbanism, Norquist reported. Those systems are linking cities to their suburbs, and property values in the areas that are served by mass transit systems have increased, he said.

WILLIAM F. O’BRIEN is an Oklahoma City attorney.

Text Only
  • Is English getting dissed?

    Is the English language being massacred by the young, the linguistically untidy and anyone who uses the Internet? Absolutely.
    Is that anything new? Hardly.
    Many words and expressions in common parlance today would have raised the hackles of language scolds in the not-so-distant past. For evidence, let’s look at some examples from recent newspaper articles.

    July 31, 2014

  • 'Too big to fail' equals 'too eager to borrow'

    Four years ago this month, President Barack Obama signed the Dodd-Frank Act into law, promising that the 848-page financial law would “put a stop to taxpayer bailouts once and for all,” he said. But recently, Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren told a Detroit crowd that “the biggest banks are even bigger than they were when they got too big to fail in 2008.”
    Who’s right?

    July 30, 2014

  • Sheltons travel for better life for family

    Some time around 1865 a mixed-race African American couple, William and Mary Shelton, made their way from Mississippi to east Texas. Nothing is known for certain of their origins in he Magnolia state, or the circumstances under which they began their new lives in Texas.

    July 29, 2014

  • Film critic Turan produces book

    Kenneth Turan, who is the film critic for National Public Radio’s “Morning Edition,” has written a book “Not to be Missed, Fifty-Four Favorites from a Life Time of Film.” His list of movies span the gamut from the beginnings of filmmaking through the present day.
    There are some surprising omissions on his list. While he includes two films, “A Touch of Evil” and Chimes at Midnight” made by Orson Welles, and one, “The Third Man,” that Welles starred in but did not direct. He did not however, include “Citizen Kane,” that was the first movie Welles made, that is  often cited by both film critics and historians as a favorite film.

    July 28, 2014

  • Logan County’s disputed zone

    Watchers of “Star Trek” may recall the episode from the original series entitled, “Day of the Dove.” In this episode, Captain Kirk and his crew are forced by a series of circumstances into a confrontation with the Klingons. The conflict eventually resolves after Kirk realizes that the circumstances have been intentionally designed by an alien force which feeds off negative emotions, especially fear and anger. Kirk and his crew communicate this fact to the Klingons and the conflict subsides. No longer feeding upon confrontation, the alien force is weakened and successfully driven away.

    July 28, 2014

  • Russell leads in Sun poll

    Polling results of an unscientific poll at show that Steve Russell, GOP candidate for the 5th District congressional seat, is in the lead with 57 percent of the vote ahead of the Aug. 26 runoff election. Thirty readers participated in the online poll.

    July 28, 2014

  • Healthier and Wealthier? Not in Oklahoma

    Increased copays, decreased coverage, diminished health care access, reduced provider budgets and increased frustration are all the outcomes of the Legislature’s 2014 health care funding decisions. Unlike some years in the past when a languishing state economy forced legislators into making cuts, the undesirable outcomes this year could easily have been avoided.

    July 26, 2014

  • Medicaid reform a necessity

    Historically, education spending by the state of Oklahoma has been the largest budget item. This is no longer the case. In recent years, the state of Oklahoma spends more on Medicaid (operated by the Oklahoma Health Care Authority) than common education and higher education combined, according to the state’s Comprehensive Annual Financial Report.

    July 25, 2014

  • Remembering lessons from 1974

    This week marks the 40th anniversary of an important milestone in America’s constitutional history. On July 24, 1974, the Supreme Court voted 8-0 to order the Nixon White House to turn over audiotapes that would prove the president and his close aides were guilty of criminal violations. This ruling established with crystal clarity that the executive branch could not hide behind the shield of executive privilege to protect itself from the consequences of illegal behavior. It was a triumph for the continued vitality of our constitutional form of government.

    July 25, 2014

  • RedBlueAmerica: Is parenting being criminalized in America?

    Debra Harrell was arrested recently after the McDonald’s employee let her daughter spend the day playing in a nearby park while she worked her shift. The South Carolina woman says her daughter had a cell phone in case of danger, and critics say that children once were given the independence to spend a few unsupervised hours in a park.
    Is it a crime to parent “free-range” kids? Does Harrell deserve her problems? Joel Mathis and Ben Boychuk, the RedBlueAmerica columnists, debate the issue.

    July 24, 2014


The runoff race for the 5th District congressional seat is set for Aug. 26. If the voting were today, which candidate would you support?

Al McAffrey
Tom Guild
     View Results