Symbolic Sequence of Planning Process
We call this planning effort Downtown Muskogee: A Landscape of Hope. What is a hopeful city? How is hopefulness of a people related to the growth of a town? Can we make a plan based on hope? Collective hope is not the same as personal hope. A group of hopeful individuals does not necessarily make for a hopeful community. Hopeful communities require a shared vision and common purpose. Have people forgotten what it means to share a common purpose and share common resources? These are the questions we will ask as we work with the citizens and leaders of Muskogee to revitalize their downtown.
The German playwright Bertolt Brecht wrote that hope is latent in contradictions. Downtown Muskogee is full of contradictions. Its center has lost its magnetism. It is no longer densely populated by residents or destinations. Millions of public and private dollars have been invested in buildings and infrastructure for new development on the edges of town, while the downtown has declined. Once the transportation hub, now traffic bypasses it. Wide streets carry light traffic. Trains no longer stop with passengers. Depots are historic sites. Densely packed buildings that once created urban space now stand alone as isolated objects in open fields. Still highly valued real estate stands vacant and undeveloped. Important institutions are disconnected from everyday life and activities. A suburban mall lies half-empty where a neighborhood grocery store is needed.
Our task is to confront these contradictions with you, the citizens of Muskogee and look for hope to manifest into a shared vision and collective purpose. Hope requires a vision of the future in a positive or improved state, a visible pathway or channel to reach the future state, and the agency or will to take that path, either independently or with assistance. This will be our conceptual framework for a downtown plan.
This fall we will immerse ourselves in learning about Muskogee. We will begin by mapping and analyzing downtown conditions. We will catalog existing conditions, community assets, proposed projects. Case studies and precedent analysis of peer cities will also be completed. We will establish a community outreach strategy with several facets to meet and get to know the people of Muskogee. A Stakeholder Committee will be formed and will meet monthly to guide the process. A website and social media presence will be created to inform and engage the public. Visioning workshops will be scheduled to receive public input, build trust, and search for common vision.
Next spring, we will turn our attention to the synthesis of a plan. We will explore urban design options and investigate the possibilities of the real estate market. We will host a design competition for teams of College of Architecture students to test various scenarios for the Arrowhead Mall on the the north side of downtown. Finally, we will produce a professional document for the city to adopt and find the pathways and methods to implement the plan. A conceptual schedule project schedule is shown above.