We are gathering a list of supporters for the Transportation Bond Election. If you are willing to have your name in the Transcript advertisement, please let me know ASAP
Dear Friends and Neighbors:
Norman is a special place,which has been rated first in the state and 40th in the country of best places to live! I'm proud of that fact, and I believe that our community's unique balance between that of a larger, progressive city and a quiet University town is the key to our exceptional quality of life.
Public service on City Council though is not simply a matter of solving bigger issues for the larger community. First and foremost, it's about representing the interests of individual residents, like you, and working to resolve the many smaller, but equally important problems affecting your families, homes and neighborhoods.
Norman is a wonderful city because of diverse people and interests and points of view. If we wish to protect and enhance the character and values that make Norman such a great place to live, it's important that we work cooperatively together as a community of neighbors, and that our municipal government works for all of us.
I promise to continue to represent your interests, and keep working to ensure that City Hall acts in the best interest of all of the citizens of Norman and not just a select few. In order to do that I have changed this website to be interactive. I want to hear your ideas as well as to keep you informed. I will periodically send out updates on important issues to help keep you informed. Please sign up on the update page.
I was stopped by a constituent on my evening walk, and she suggested that the City put out a reminder about voluntary rationing. Thank you for the great idea.
The Norman Transcript
July 19, 2012
City encouraging water conservation
The Norman Transcript
NORMAN — The Norman Utilities Department is asking residents to please conserve water as much as possible including implementing voluntary even/odd watering.
Norman’s water department has been pumping more than 20 million gallons per day for more than 21 days so far this summer as compared to normal wintertime usage of about 10 mgd.
So far this summer, Norman has not had to purchase emergency water from Oklahoma City. However, with the continued increase in demand, and the strain on facilities, purchasing water from may be inevitable, according to city reports.
The rate for Oklahoma City emergency water has increased over 8 percent in the last two years making it $4.84 per 1,000 gallons, double the norman cost.
Norman’s regular commercial water rate is $2.10 per 1,000 gallons.
Water conserving steps to consider:
· Voluntary odd/even water rotation — if your street address ends in an odd number, only water on odd numbered calendar days. If your address ends in an even number, only water on even calendar days. This significantly reduces peak demand on the water system and encourages deep root growth for plants and lawn.
· Adjust sprinklers to make sure you are not watering the sidewalk, driveway or other areas that do not need watering.
· Do not water between 9 a.m. and 6 p.m. — this is the hottest part of the day when up to 40 percent of the water can be lost to evaporation.
· Use mulch. A thick layer of mulch around your plants helps keep the ground insulated from the sun and retains moisture better.
· Some experts estimate that 50 percent of water is lost due to evaporation and run-off. Irrigation professionals can install, audit or upgrade your system to save up to 9,000 gallons each year. Technology also is available to ensure that sprinkler systems are on their best behavior and allows systems to water according to weather and shut off in the rain.
· Not interested in an irrigation system? Purchase an inexpensive hose timer to avoid over-watering. Soaker hoses are also a great option for avoiding evaporation due to wind.
· Wash only full loads of dishes or clothes.
· Refrain from washing down any sidewalk, walkway, driveway, parking lot or any other hard-surfaced area.
· If you use a low-flow showerhead, you can save 15 gallons of water during a 10-minute shower.
· Every time you shave minutes off your use of hot water, you also save energy and keep dollars in your pocket.
· Nearly 22 percent of indoor home water use comes from doing laundry. Save water by making sure to adjust the settings on your machine to the proper load size.
Water conservation — using water efficiently and avoiding waste — is fundamental to ensuring water availability in the future. In order to protect our water supply, everyone can practice conservation. In our businesses, schools, and homes, using water more efficiently will lessen the effects of limited water supply.
July 19, 2012
Wider possibilities for Lindsey
By Joy Hampton
The Norman Transcript
NORMAN — Editor’s Note: This is the first in a periodic series of stories examining the projects of the transporation bond package set for vote Aug. 28.
For years, local restaurateur Joe Sparks opposed proposals to widen Lindsey Street. Now, he’s reversed that stance and is supporting the upcoming transportation bond package going before Norman voters on Aug. 28.
“In the past, I worked against widening Lindsey Street,” he said. “This is the first time the widening has been combined with drainage issues at Lindsey and McGee and this is the first time they’ve agreed to bury the utilities.”
Sparks and wife Rebecca Sparks own Legends Restaurant on Lindsey Street west of Berry Road. He said the time is right for the Lindsey project.
“We’ll get half of it paid for with the federal match,” he said. “Another plus is the Lindsey Street bridge is going to be torn down to make it six lanes. We might as well get these other problems solved at the same time.”
Norman would coordinate the reconstruction and widening of Lindsey Street between Berry and 24th Ave. Southwest with the Oklahoma Department of Transportation’s work on the Lindsey bridge at Interstate 35. That project is slated for 2016.
“Of course, the Lindsey Street project is only one of eight involved with this project,” Sparks said.
The Lindsey widening could take as long as two years and that will affect his business, but Sparks said the improvements will be worth the sacrifice.
“We’ll just have to make some adjustments in the way we operate while that’s going on,” he said. “Businesses and their customers will still have access continuously.”
Sparks said access at the Lindsey and I-35 interchange will also remain continuous.
“The end result will be a much better Lindsey Street. We’ll have continuous sidewalks and continuous curbs,” he said. “The utilities will be buried so there will be opportunities for better landscaping.
“The University of Oklahma will have a better opportunity at having a really attractive gateway. The 21st Century calls for landscaping.”
The city has been gathering data from Oklahoma Department of Transportation, the Association of Central Oklahoma Governments, resident surveys and other entities to prioritize projects as this bond proposal was prepared.
That information reveals some startling statistics:
· Lindsey Street is the No. 1 rated sotrm water problem in Norman.
· It is also the No. 1 traffic congestion corridor in the Oklahoma City metropolitan area.
· The crash rate on Lindsey is nearly three times the national average for similar roadways.
Flooding along McGee Street affects access to homes, churches and at least one school. Bethel Baptist Church and St. Stephens United Methodist Church struggle with flooding and access every time it rains as does Whittier Middle School. Flooding is so bad in that area, it is commonly referred to as “Lake McGee.”
Access for people with disabilities is also an issue along Lindsey Street because the sidewalks are not continous and many of those that exist lack curb cuts. Landscaping is spotty and overhead powerlines interfer with trees and other landscaping features.
The proposed bond project would solve those problems in addition to easing traffic congestion through the widening.
“West Lindsey Street is probably the main gateway to the university and it’s the first thing many people see — the first impression of Norman,” Sparks said.
That includes prospective students, visitors to Norman, industrial prospects and investors and people who might buy a home here, he said.
“There’s a serious economic component to the improved appearance of Lindsey Street,” Sparks said.
As a local business owner and Norman resident, he believes it’s a project that’s time has come and the investment is worth the outcome.
The 2012 Bond Program, if approved, will provide the city’s matching dollars for eight transportation projects. The city is making use of federal matching funds administered by the Oklahoma Department of Transportation and the Association of Central Oklahoma Governments. All of the proposed bond projects are eligible for federal tranprojects.
Joy Hampton 366-3539 jhampton@ normantranscript.com
On August 07, 2012, Norman will participate in a nationwide event, which is intended to bring people out of their homes and become active within their neighborhoods. Norman will be joining people around the world to celebrate the “29th Annual National Night Out”. National Night Out is sponsored by the National Association of Town Watch in partnership with Target. Members of the Norman Police Department are looking forward to meeting with our citizens on National Night Out.
This event is designed to 1) Heighten crime and drug prevention awareness; 2) Strengthen neighborhood spirit and police-community partnerships; 3) Generate support for, and participation in, local anti-crime efforts; 4) Send a message to criminals, letting them know neighborhoods care and will not be victimized.
On August 07, from 6:30 p.m. to 9:00 p.m., we would like to encourage the citizens of Norman to lock their doors, turn on their outside lights and spend the evening getting to know their neighbors. The Norman Police Department would like to know if your neighborhood is planning an event for National Night Out. Please let us know the details of your event through Facebook (City of Norman, OK Police Department), by e-mail at email@example.com or calling Sgt. Jennifer Newell at 405-366-5267.
If you are interested in starting a Neighborhood Watch group in your area, please contact Sgt. Jennifer Newell. You do not have to be a part of a neighborhood watch group to participate in National Night Out. You just have to care about your neighborhood.
To assist the Norman Police Department with crime prevention, you can come out of your homes, get to know your neighbors and your local officers. National Night Out is a wonderful opportunity to do this.
Sgt. Jennifer Newell
Norman Police Department
Community Services Section
Councilmember Ezzell resigned his position as Councilmember for Ward 3 effective July 31, 2012. The remainder of this unexpired term for this Council seat extends to July 2, 2013. As directed by City Charter, any vacancy occurring on the City Council shall be filled by a majority vote of the remaining members of City Council, for a period extending until the next regular municipal election.
Council has expressed interest in receiving applications for appointment to fill the unexpired term. Interested applicants must be registered to vote in the City of Norman for six months and reside in Ward 3. Applicants must submit an application, letter of intent, and/or resume to the City Clerk’s Office at 201 West Gray Street by Monday, July 23, 2012. Applications can be obtained at the City Clerk’s Office or, if you prefer, links to the application and a Ward 3 boundary map are included on the front page of the City’s website at www.cityofnorman.com. City Council anticipates an appointment in August. Questions may be directed to the City Clerk’s Office at 366-5386 or you may email the City Clerk at Brenda.Hall@NormanOK.gov.
I know gotcha journalism is fun, for some. So is editorializing in a news story, but sometimes people want the facts as well, all of them. For that reason I will explain what was made to seem like a contradiction in my statement and my actions. I did indeed say I would not bend the law to accommodate my personal feelings in the matter of the appeal before the Norman City Council. That was after the City Attorney said in an unequivocal fashion that Council could not grant exemptions. Well if we could not legally do so then, it would have been improper for me to vote to do so, despite the merits of the case. After I made my quoted statement, the City Attorney later modified his position and said we could interpret the code to read it as giving latitude for an exemption.
Webster defines appeal as: an application (as to a recognized authority) for corroboration, vindication, or decision. I think: if there is no choice than, you cannot decide. In other words we must be able to say yes or no. The very fact that there is an appeal process indicated the intent to be able to address situations that cannot possibly be contemplated or anticipated when writing an ordinance.
Making a decision on the narrow and specific facts on individual circumstances is not only appropriate but the very function of having Council oversight. That is what keeps people from falling through the cracks. While staff and the Planning Commission were absolutely right to strictly apply the ordinance, Council, in an appeal, can and should exercise its discretionary powers.
No one intended to charge people for a road widening that will not happen just because we can. Nor should we make a small plot of land unusable, if its use doesn’t prose a treat to the greater community. It is more than an issue of taking care of a small business, or did some buyer do their due diligence. It is a matter of looking at the situation as a whole and considering the human side of the equation.
The meeting demonstrated two important principles. They say you cannot fight city hall, but in fact you not only can but sometimes you can win. Second, all the back and forth and vacillation, proved that those on council do not always have their minds made up before a meeting.
Councilmenmber Ezzell has resigned as of 7-31. I hope anyone interested in filling the vacancy until the next election, submit a letter to Council ASAP.
I am humbled and honored to be sworn in tonight for a third term.
NORMAN — Business and Community Affairs to consider board appointments
The Norman City Council will say goodbye this week to council members Carol Dillingham, Ward 4, and Dan Quinn, Ward 8, while welcoming newcomers Greg Jungman and Chad Williams. The annual swearing in ceremonial meeting starts 6 p.m. Tuesday, half an hour earlier than usual city council meetings.
As the city offers appreciation for the council members’ years of dedicated service, it also will administer oaths of office to re-elected members Tom Kovach, Ward 2, and James Griffith, Ward 6, and to new members Jungman, Ward 4, and Williams, Ward 8.
The council also will elect a mayor pro tem and representatives to the Association of Central Oklahoma Governments Board of Directors, a council member to serve on the board of trustees for the city’s Norman Retirement System, and a council member to serve as a representative and ex-officio member of the Norman Convention and Visitors Bureau Board of Directors.
Prior to the special council meeting, Norman’s city volunteers will be welcomed with an appreciation reception at 5 p.m. at city hall.
Economic Development Advisory Board: Of particular interest this week will be the Business and Community Affairs Committee meeting 9 a.m. Thursday. According to the agenda, discussion will revolve around the creation of a Norman Economic Development Advisory Board.
After lengthy debates regarding the creation of a Norman Economic Development Authority, it was decided that city council members would serve as trustees. The city council approved the NEDA on June 12, with plans to create an advisory committee of financial professionals.
“This is the starting point. We all agreed that an advisory board is appropriate and makes a lot of sense,” Council member Hal Ezzell said. “Our starting point is what was pulled out from the last agreement (during NEDA discussions), and we’ll go from there. That discussion is going to start on Thursday.”
Assistant City Attorney Kathryn Walker will make a presentation to the Business and Community Affairs Committee, including a draft ordinance to create the Norman Economic Development Advisory Board. Positions would be appointed.
A five-member board is proposed, with one member to be nominated by the executive committee of the Norman Chamber of Commerce, one nominated by the Board of Directors of the Norman Economic Development Coalition and three nominated by the mayor and confirmed by the city council.
Council member Tom Kovach said he would like to see a seven-member advisory board. Kovach believes all of the seats should come from city council appointments.
“The chamber and NEDC should not get to pick who is on that board,” Kovach said. “What we need is people with the right credentials.”
How the advisory board will function in conjunction with NEDA will be adjusted based on the council’s input.
“This economic advisory board’s primary function is to give us a good technical evaluation of the financial feasibility of a proposed project. It’s (the) council’s job to decide if it’s the right kind of project for Norman,” Kovach said. “NEDA should determine first if a project is desirable before a project goes to the committee for evaluation.”
In the draft proposal, all five members of the advisory board would be required to have experience in law, finance, accounting or banking.
“I have serious questions about the proposed makeup of the board under this proposal,” Mayor Cindy Rosenthal said. “It’s not sufficiently broad enough to protect the public interest.”
Rosenthal said she thinks the advisory board should include more members. Also, she has concerns about how it would function because of the increased ability of economic committees to hold closed-door executive sessions.
Under the proposal, the advisory board would make recommendations to the city council regarding:
· Proposed economic development policies and programs
· Requests for city-funded incentives for private businesses as proposed by the Norman Economic Development Coalition
· Development of strategies and plans for promoting economic development in Norman.
The committee would also:
· Investigate and report on economic development issues as assigned by the council
· Assist in identifying assets, resources and incentives appropriate for furthering economic development in the city.
Joy Hampton 366-3539 jhampton@ normantranscript.com
Sitel announced 361 employees will lose their jobs in Norman. I hope we as a community will work together to help them in their transition.