Bricktown Canal: 10 Years in the Making
By Rusty Surette, NEWS 9
OKLAHOMA CITY -- City leaders are celebrating the 10th anniversary of the Bricktown Canal today.
Oklahoma City Mayor Mick Cornett, former Mayor Ron Norick and many others will gather to mark the 10-year milestone of the canal.
"I was still working in the media", said Mayor Cornett who admitted he had some doubts about the success of a canal running through downtown Oklahoma City.
Fast forward ten years later, the canal is now the center piece for growth and development in the area. It's lined with gift shops, restaurants and bars.
Bob Bekoff who owns one of original businesses on the Bricktown Canal, Bricktown Water Taxi, said it was a business gamble that paid off.
"We made the goal in the first 80 days," Bekoff said. "We made our goal in nine out of the 10 years we've been here. There was one year that was cold and wet and they had to shut down the canal to drain it. "
Employees for Bekoff, also known as Water Taxi Ambassadors, said there was little to talk about along the canal 10 years ago when the sights were mainly dirt and grass.
"A lot of us drivers then called that area between Reno and I-40 'imagination land,'" said Michael Bobier, a Water Taxi Ambassador.
There were few establishments that lined the Bricktown canal when it opened in '99 but in 2000 progress was evident, and the people who share the story of Oklahoma City finally had something to talk about.
The Water Taxi increased its fleet form five to six boats and employs close to 40 people today. A ride in a water taxi today is $8 compared to $5 ten years ago.
In celebration of just how far Bricktown and the Canal have come in the last decade, the Bricktown Association will unveil the first two inductees into the new Bricktown Walk of Fame.
"This will be an annual event we'll always do around the Fourth of July holiday and in the future we want to pay tribute to city leaders and celebrities, but this year it's reserved for those who got it all started. The early pioneers of Bricktown," said Bricktown Association President Jim Cowen.
Some city leaders are already looking forward to the next 10 years.
There have already been talks of a MAPS 3 that will likely focus on the city's transportation system, a new convention system and a large core-to-shore park.
"I think there will be other ideas attached to it, but those are the three ideas that we think will continue the city's momentum and will continue to make this a city where people want to be,"Cornett said.
He said the city council could take up the MAPS 3 issue in October and September. If it's approved, it could be put before voters sometime in December.
Thursday's event is open to the public and begins at 11 a.m. at the canal near Oklahoma Avenue.