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Unsustainable: Time to Delve into OKC's Future

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No OKC Central Live Chats. No columns. Is Lackmeyer slacking off?

Forgive me my absence the past couple of weeks, but I've been doing a lot of writing.

For the past few months I've been working on a series of stories that will kick off this Sunday with my in-depth look at the history of the city's growth, the associated problems, and how difficult it has been to change course. I'm no newcomer to this discussion. I observed first hand back in the late 1990s when an attempt to create a new comprehensive plan for the city crashed and burned as ambitious changes pushed by then Planning Director Garner Stoll crashed and burned as they were killed by developers and home builders who wanted to maintain the status quo.

Stoll lost his job. He was replaced by John Dugan, who was the polar opposite of Stoll and played it very safe. He was followed up by Russell Claus, who launched yet another shot at a new comprehensive plan to replace the last one written in 1977. With more than a dozen years passed since Stoll's era, the players at City Hall had changed, as had the circumstances.

We have a city council that now all to some degree acknowledge the status quo is no longer workable. Our growth, as it has taken place, is unsustainable.

So that's where we begin this Sunday. The city is making some tough changes to prevent a failure in either city services and/or funding for operations before that reality hits. It's called being responsible - something state lawmakers might want to watch and learn. 

It's also helpful, however, to look back at what happened during Stoll's run - and to keep that history in mind as we look ahead with the start of Unsustainable this Sunday. So starting today, and going all week, I will be posting stories about the late 1990s planning battle on OKC Central throughout the week. 

Steve Lackmeyer

Steve Lackmeyer is a reporter, columnist and author who started his career at The Oklahoman in 1990. Since then, he has won numerous awards for his coverage, which included the 1995 bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building, the city's... Read more ›

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