Although I’m watching from afar (Oklahoma City), I can’t help but be a bit fascinated by the sales tax vote in Edmond this past week. The temporary tax, which passed with an overwhelming 81.3 percent from Edmond voters, will fund the purchase of a chunk of land adjacent to Hafer Park. There is no formal plan for these 22 acres other than to the property from being developed and add it to the portfolio of the Edmond Parks Department. The blank slate, if you will, is unusual.
I grew up in Edmond, and in my time there I saw it transition from a town of fields and wooded areas to a bustling suburb full of shopping centers and neighborhoods. Now Oklahoma’s fifth largest city, Edmond exploded in the past few decades, as most people are aware. To think there would be a portion of undeveloped land too sacred to develop is a puzzling phenomenon that I didn’t see coming — or at least fully understand during past fights over the property.
Some of the reasons given for a “Yes” vote this past week struck me as interesting and perhaps indicate a shift among the Edmond populace. Concerns about increased traffic, anywhere in Edmond, are humorous at this point. Edmond is basically synonymous with traffic. The roads really weren’t built for the current amount of residents, and that’s been the case for a long time.
At East 15th Street and North Bryant Avenue, there’s already a giant shopping center right next to Hafer Park and the 22 acres in question. Was the proposal of an additional 276-unit, mixed-use development the tipping point of public opinion? Does this indicate that if more development proposals were put to a direct vote of the people, fewer would be approved? Or was this mostly a “not in my backyard” protest vote? More than eight in 10 Edmond voters literally said they would pay money not to have the land developed, so last week’s vote definitely means something.
It would be cool to see Hafer Park expanded and upgraded to a space Edmond residents can be even more proud of. Will that happen? I’m hoping NonDoc can land some extra grants, sponsors and donors to ensure we have a reporter at future public meetings to find out.
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