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Hi there and thanks so much for returning to EdmondActive, to see what’s happening around Edmond. For those who are new to the area, Edmond is a lovely town and normally I don’t have such a column to offer. Before the devisive days of Covid, this was a lovely space to share information about what was happening around town. This column along with a few others written since 2020 have been absolutely necessary to write.

I am personally wishing every public school teacher, administrator and staff member a great week before school starts and a bearable new school year. I hope that things do not deteriorate even further with the FBI investigating our State Department of Education’s Superintendent now. Please just hang in there, our kids attending public school depend on you.

Around Edmond has made me an unwitting columnist here in Edmond over the last 14 years, which means sometimes my opinion is given and not just information about shopping or events, whether it was/is wanted or not. However, I am a concerned and active member of this community as I chose to live here exactly 17 years ago in November.

These days, due to the closing of the Edmond Sun in 2020, Edmond News which is a product of NonDoc Media has stepped up in a big way in actively and consistently reporting happenings at public meetings in Edmond such as EPS School Board meetings, meetings with City Council, workshops and planning commission meetings.

Last Thursday, the Chamber of Commerce held the State of the City given by Mayor Darrell Davis who put out a call to speak only to a select small group of privately chosen stakeholders seeking “Intentional Collaboration.” I love the term used, but when this collaboration leaves out 99.999% of residents in our town – but especially those who work for grocery stores, work at the City in a non-elected capacity, work for hospitals, restaurants, local boutiques, work as plumbers, electricians, as firefighters, as police officers and more, this forceful callout for whole community intentional collaboration loses its intent of authenticity when blue-collar workers who work in Edmond have to drive 3 to 5 communities distance solely to work in Edmond, currently. This is not an estimate as to how it will be in 10 years. You can find the article about the Chamber event by Joe Tomlinson here:

The growth of Edmond to current levels of close to 96,000 residents has been jarring for some long time residents. Growth is foreign and when the growth happens to hit the levels it has reached here, for some, the town loses its charm, familiarity, and loss of a feeling of community for some.

People could not understand losing the Electric Lights Christmas Parade which close to 40,000 people attended annually to the fiscal benefit of the Downtown Edmond retailers, coffee shops and restaurants, nor the loss of the darling Trick or Treat on the Street event where thousands brought their littles to trick or treat with their families up and down Broadway in Downtown Edmond.

Everyone has different perceptions of the topic of growth, and of authenticity.

It was highly offputting to hear our Mayor demand that everyone in Edmond have intentional collaboration or whatever that actually really means. I am sure compliance with the City plan was the intent, and this level of forcefulness was simply shocking to hear from Mayor Davis while quipping that every business owner in the room was sure to just LOVE the new growth. I understand the shock because I was told to “Act like everyone gets along” by the director of the Edmond Tourism board in January 2022 aka Visit Edmond, when I was ordered to promote the City’s events without compensation for my marketing efforts.

People who work to make a basic living feel like the City staff disposed of any feeling of trust between residents and the current leadership because they felt left out of the level of development and full-on change of the face of their beloved city and at such an exorbitant cost, many feel blindsided by it all, especially as it happens only months after full approval by the City Council. Again. For those in the back.

Most people in Edmond simply want to work, take care of their and their families basic needs such as rent/mortgage, food and medical costs, car payments, insurances, trade certification costs or student loans, utilities, etc., and hope to have something left for entertainment and dining out. Most people in Edmond make anywhere from $55,000 to $70,000 per year, with the upper middle class making at least $110,000 in combined income households.

However. Let me be clear. There are many who are wealthy but claim to be the middle class residents of Edmond. And. They don’t want people who work service jobs to actually live in Edmond. No Apartments. No Duplexes. No Townhouses.

Add this to developers who are building new housing that claim they are for trying to build these forms of housing, that have rental rates that so far exceed the actual income that folks who work in Edmond actually can afford at the 3 times the income requirement of most landlords *(most homeowners are not actually aware of this new requirement), that those in service industries have to live as far out of Edmond as South OKC, South Moore/Norman, Mustang, Yukon or Piedmont, because in fact paychecks haven’t risen to the level of the cost of living increases the local developers desire.

In doing this it appears that the City and local opponents of multi-family or affordable middle-class living spaces are in favor of redlining anyone who makes less than $5,000 to $6,000 a month for a 400 to 900-square-foot living situation. Anyone who makes this type of money will simply rent a home in Edmond for $1400 to $1500 a month for an 800 to 1,000-square-foot home with a garage and backyard.

One ex councilman stated on Saturday said that “Edmond requires adequate service” in the vain he was advocating for affordable middle class living space, while in the same breath advocating for more high dollar development of homes $400,000 and above to which he claimed is nothing at all to be ashamed of, which I agree with but that this type of development has caused an inappropriate market fluctuation that is causing a middle class housing crisis with existing homes and lack of them being built new.

While in office this developer had the opportunity to set the example of the “how” in providing new affordable missing middle-class (not even the select resident’s fear of section 8 low income) housing and chose not to do so even creating a recent special “alliance” with other developers to bring to leadership more people that would make sure they developed Edmond in their vision without any community input, as elected officials are required to consider.

For those who are upper middle class or wealthy it may seem shocking to you that so many folks are upset at this method of development, because it doesn’t personally affect you and your’s, much less it doesn’t affect other high end development for the discerning 10% of Edmond.

I have been loving the development as of late, which to be fair it is really spectacular but in my humble opinion, the City Complex only benefitting the city leadership and staff was entirely poorly executed with little to no community input as to bringing it to life and how it would affect the lack of and further shortage of local service job workers. On top of City staff making it impossible for the continuation of the public benefitting Uncommon Ground park that was withdrawn by Hal French, robbing the public of something for their families to enjoy at no cost, without any justification for having done so.

I, for one, am super excited for City Staff about the new city complex in that it was wayyyyy overdue, due to age of the multiple scattered buildings around Edmond.

July 28th, I wrote about the upset of local business owners and leaders here Around Edmond: Heard on Hurd July event smashes attendance record with NBC news doing a write up! Downtown Edmond businesses buzzing about 20 month street and parking closures. #Shopedmond for Krazy Days this weekend. The scheduling of street closures for the next 20 months was not handled well at all, leaving locally owned independent businesses and landlords of Downtown Edmond business spaces completely in the dark, also according to Joe Tomlinson here:

While I understand the spirit of the “Intentional Collaboration” statement made at the Chamber event by Mayor Davis and agree that even high-level employees at Tinker Airforce Base cannot afford to reside in Edmond any longer, perhaps a less forceful way of bringing whole community collaboration is required, instead of trying to force some sort of compliance onto a community of hard-working people who love living in Edmond. It is a shocking way, for those in leadership and those looking to influence future leaders who are all about commercial and large scale upscale residential development, to seek an authentic community involvement and vibe, and when forced, community rarely responds positively. No one likes to be told to get on board with an idea that forces folks out of the community.

There is no current conversation going on between the City and residents, and now appears to be a bashing of a certain small group of MAGA residents as the problem as a mask as to what is actually the real problem facing the leadership and the staff of the City of Edmond. It’s really not too late to do community outreach, if that is actually the intent of the leadership at City Hall.

For those at Edmond Neighborhood Alliance, perhaps instead of yet again protesting those who make less than you, consider a new apartment complex a solution to possible homelessness for those displaced by the ultra-luxury tiny homes being built in Downtown Edmond and give it a rest. Maybe this one time. You most likely don’t hang out around Edmond Rd. and Kelly, so leave the discussion between the developer, the City and the people who actually do work and live in this area.

Stop by next Tuesday to see what’s happening around Edmond!