by Steve Lackmeyer, The Oklahoman
Another anniversary hits this December when a quarter century will have passed since Oklahoma City decisively changed its course with the passage of the original Metropolitan Area Projects.
But even before that vote, residents and civic leaders were showing an interest in changing the image of what had long been seen as a dry, boring cow town.
The Myriad Gardens, when it opened in 1988, was a small lake, a scattering of young trees and, of course, the ambitious Crystal Bridge Botanical Tube. Residents then voted a permanent sales tax for the Oklahoma City Zoo, which included an ongoing investment in its own gardens.
MAPS added the Bricktown Canal, extensively landscaped with trees planted a story below where a street once stood. Landscaping was a factor with most of the original MAPS projects, and was again a consideration with MAPS for Kids and MAPS 3.
The Project 180 makeover of downtown streets and public spaces, meanwhile, added hundreds of trees throughout downtown. Meanwhile, over at the Oklahoma City Urban Renewal Authority, board member Jim Tolbert has spent the past dozen years or more challenging developers to put more thinking into the landscaping and trees they plan as part of their projects.