Oklahoma City Mayor Mick Cornett visited Omaha on Wednesday to be the keynote speaker for the Metropolitan Area Planning Agency’s 50th Anniversary.
While here, he toured the Blackstone District and Midtown Crossing to see the progress the city has made to create a more pedestrian-friendly environment.
“I've seen the town grow and prosper people of Omaha should be very proud of what they created,” said Cornett.
In his 14-year run as the mayor of Oklahoma City, Cornett oversaw the city’s ‘Renaissance’ from a car-friendly city to a pedestrian friendly city. Cornett said Oklahoma City was one of the most obese cities and wanted to change that culture and challenged the city and himself to lose weight. The city added more trails, sidewalks and wellness centers. In four years residents lost over a million pounds.
“It's not always easy, it's not always cheap and sometimes it's controversial but at the end of the day you creating a city for your kids and your grandkids and you should all feel good about that,” said Cornett.
It’s a vision Sabrina Danielsen wants as she walks her 5-week old in a stroller in Blackstone, “I went just a couple blocks that way and it's like well I hit Dodge and there's no crosswalk there I can sort of maybe cross this way but it seems like this is sort of difficult.”
Danielsen said she lives just a mile away and would rather walk here than pack up in a car, “We really have to drive in part because it's impossible to cross saddle creek easily.”
Omaha city officials said with these projects, they take these concerns seriously.
“We've made an effort to bring the new buildings up to the street make it more pedestrian friendly environments buildings closer to the sidewalks,” said Omaha Planning Director Dave Fanslau.
Creating sidewalks where people feel safe to live work and play in Omaha.
“We see that really important for the future of our area going forward, for empty-nesters, for millennials and all people really,” said MAPA Executive Director Greg Youell.