The Edmond Sun

Opinion

December 10, 2013

Downtown development could bring north, south sides together

OKLA. CITY — Peter Ackroyd is a British historian who has written extensively about the city of London. One of his most  recent works, “Thames: The Biography” details the extensive role that that waterway has played in the history of the United Kingdom.  

The word Thames is one of the oldest names  recorded in England, Ackroyd reports, and may owe its origins to the ancient Celtic word for running water. Julius Caesar constructed a bridge over the Thames in 54 BC to facilitate his invasion of the British Isles, and it was on the banks of the Thames at Runnymede where King John was forced to sign the Magna Carta in 1215.

When Queen Elizabeth II commemorated her 50 years on the British throne several years ago by leading a regatta down the Thames, she was part of a thousand-year-old tradition of British monarchs sailing on that waterway.  

Ackroyd surveys books written about the Thames and concludes that in books concerning the Thames there are continued laments about the encroachments of the present upon the glories about the past. He writes about a theme that is found in some of the earliest of those works and shows differences between the people who inhabit the north side of the Thames and those who resided on south side of the river.

When King Alfred was on the British throne in the ninth century, he said that there were few scholars south of the Thames. The author quotes one historian who wrote in the 19th Century that “the progress of civilization does nothing for them,” about Londoners who resided on the southern side of that waterway, while on the northern side “railways are constructed,” and other urban amenities are put in place by the citizenry.

Somewhat similar distinctions have been made regarding those who reside on the north side and south sides of Oklahoma City. In the early 1980s, attorneys in downtown Oklahoma City were known to explain to their clients that the reason that it was difficult to garnish the wages or salaries of people who owed them money was because powerful state legislators from south Oklahoma City wrote into the Oklahoma garnishment law exemptions that were designed to protect their constituents who were often the subject of garnishment actions.

But the visionary who oversaw the creation of the Oklahoma River, Roy Ackerman, believed that the construction of that waterway would in time serve to erode the differences between the north and south sides of Oklahoma City. As the demand for housing in downtown Oklahoma City increases, builders will soon turn to  the area of south Oklahoma City that is adjacent to downtown as sites for new housing units.

Events that are held on the Oklahoma River, such as rowing events and holiday celebrations, bring residents from both sides of Oklahoma City to its banks.

The Humphreys Group, a real estate development firm operated by the sons of former Oklahoma City Mayor Kirk Humphreys, has an ambitious plan to develop the land that adjoins the river that formerly served as an airfield. That plan will bring the ferris wheel that used to be in place on the Santa Monica Pier in California, to the banks of the Oklahoma River, and will include both commercial and residential units.

In accordance with Ackerman’s visions, in time the Oklahoma River and the structures along its banks may give all residents of Oklahoma City a shared sense of civic pride that will serve to transcend their differences.

William F. O’Brien is an Oklahoma City attorney.

1
Text Only
Opinion
  • St. Louis Post-Dispatch: Why poverty across the world matters to Americans

    A child starving in South Sudan should matter to Americans. That was the message delivered last week by Nancy Lindborg, whose job at the U.S. Agency for International Development is to lead a federal bureau spreading democracy and humanitarian assistance across the world.
    That world has reached a critical danger zone, with three high-level crises combining military conflict with humanitarian catastrophes affecting millions of innocents in Syria, the South Sudan and the Central African Republic.
    But back to that child.

    April 18, 2014

  • Government leadership complicit in overfilling prisons

    One of the thorniest problems facing any society is the question of what to do with transgressors. Obviously, the more complicated a culture becomes, the more factors come into play in trying to figure out what to do with those who choose not to “play by the rules.”

    April 18, 2014

  • My best days are ones normal people take for granted

    It is a weekend for working around the house. My fiancee, Erin, and I have the baby’s room to paint and some IKEA furniture to assemble. I roll out of bed early — 10:30 — and get into my wheelchair. Erin is already making coffee in the kitchen.
    “I started the first wall,” she says. “I love that gray.” Erin never bugs me about sleeping late. For a few months after I was injured in the Boston Marathon bombings, I often slept 15 hours a day. The doctors said my body needed to heal. It must still be healing because I hardly ever see 8 a.m. anymore.

    April 18, 2014

  • Instead of mothballing Navy ships, give them to our allies

    A bitter debate has raged in the Pentagon for several months about the wisdom of taking the nuclear aircraft carrier George Washington out of service to save money. The Washington, at 24 years old a relatively young vessel, is due for a costly refit, a routine procedure that all of the 11 large carriers in service undergo regularly.

    April 18, 2014

  • The pessimist’s guide to grizzly bears and Earth Day

    This coming Friday, to “celebrate Earth Day,” the Walt Disney Co. will release one of those cutesy, fun-for-all-ages, nature documentaries. “Bears” is about grizzly bears.
    The trailer says, “From DisneyNature comes a story that all parents share. About the love, the joy, the struggle and the strength it takes to raise a family.”
    Talk about your misguided “Hollywood values.” I previously have acknowledged a morbid, unreasonable fear of grizzly bears, stemming from a youth misspent reading grisly grizzly-attack articles in Readers Digest. This fear is only morbid and unreasonable because I live about 1,500 miles from the nearest wild grizzly bear. Still. ...

    April 16, 2014

  • Digging out of the CIA-Senate quagmire

    Last week, the Senate Intelligence Committee, led by Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., voted to declassify parts of its report on the CIA’s rendition, detention and interrogation program. The White House, the CIA and the Senate still have to negotiate which portions of the report will be redacted before it is made public. But this is an important step in resolving the ugly dispute that has erupted between the intelligence committee and the intelligence agency.
    The dispute presents two very serious questions. Was the program consistent with American values and did it produce valuable intelligence? And is effective congressional oversight of secret activities possible in our democracy?

    April 15, 2014

  • Los Angeles Times: Congress extend jobless benefits again

    How’s this for irony: Having allowed federal unemployment benefits to run out in December, some lawmakers are balking at a bill to renew them retroactively because it might be hard to figure out who should receive them. Congress made this task far harder than it should have been, but the technical challenges aren’t insurmountable. Lawmakers should restore the benefits now and leave them in place until the unemployment rate reaches a more reasonable level.

    April 14, 2014

  • Many nations invested in Israel

    Former Israeli Ambassador to the United States Yoram Ettinger recently spoke to a gathering at the Chabad Center for Jewish Life and Learning in Oklahoma City. The event began with a presentation by Rabbi Ovadia Goldman, who told the attendee that the  upcoming Jewish holiday of Passover was an occasion for them to embrace the children of God, which is all of humanity.

    April 14, 2014

  • Coming soon: More ways to get to know your doctor

    Last week, the federal government released a massive database capable of providing patients with much more information about their doctors.
    The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, the government agency that runs Medicare, is posting on its website detailed information about how many visits and procedures individual health professionals billed the program for in 2012, and how much they were paid.
    This new trove of data, which covers 880,000 health professionals, adds to a growing body of information available to patients who don’t want to leave choosing a doctor to chance. But to put that information to good use, consumers need to be aware of what is available, what’s missing and how to interpret it.

    April 14, 2014

  • HEY HINK: Hateful bullies attempt to muffle free speech

    Hopefully we agree it should be a fundamental right to voice criticism of any religion you wish. And you should have the right to sing the praises of any religion you choose. If criticism of religion is unjust, feel free to make your best argument to prove it. If criticism is just, don’t be afraid to acknowledge and embrace it. If songs of praise are merited, feel free to join in. If not, feel free to ignore them. But no American should participate in curbing free speech just because expression of religious views makes someone uncomfortable.

    April 11, 2014

Poll

Do you agree with a state budget proposal that takes some funds away from road and bridge projects to ramp up education funding by $29.85 million per year until schools are receiving $600 million more a year than they are now? In years in which 1 percent revenue growth does not occur in the general fund, the transfer would not take place.

Agree
Disagree
Undecided
     View Results