The Norman Transcript


December 15, 2013

New land use to transform campus

NORMAN — Sitting in the resource center at Longfellow Middle School Monday evening, my mind could hardly focus on the subject at hand: Finding a win-win for the state, city and private interests to develop underused land near Griffin Hospital on Norman’s near east side.

It was mid-December and this time of year usually meant my siblings and I needed to find that perfect Christmas cedar tree to remove from the hospital grounds. Those big red cedars, when shaped properly, made for excellent trees.

Only two mishaps in more than a decade of tree thievery. One cedar was about twice as large as the space our parents set aside in our rural Norman home. (No problem, we just cut it in half). The second involved small mammals that nested in the particular tree that nationalized and did not leave until the tree was taken indoors.


Those are minor issues compared to the scope of what the city’s Griffin Hospital steering committee is charged with exploring. The possibilities outlined to the large committee this past week are numerous. Walking trails, greenbelts, more sports practice fields, a community garden, new housing, a new recreation and aquatics center, expanded social services for the homeless and hungry and commercial sites.

The state Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services doesn’t expect to see a big enough budget to repair or replace buildings on the Griffin campus. But if they could sell or long-term lease some unneeded land to the city or developers, it could be a revenue stream for them to utilize in delivering better services for mental health consumers, according to director Terri White.

Those aging buildings on the Griffin grounds were once home to more than 3,000 patients when the hospital was named Central State. My grandfather was a psychiatrist there and his family lived on the grounds along with other doctors and administrators. In Norman, the patients were easily recognizable by their khakis. Patients were a big part of the hospital’s workforce, tending the livestock, raising crops, doing the laundry or delivering the newspapers.

Text Only | Photo Reprints
  • Congress should close gaps

    Of all of Edward Snowden’s revelations about electronic surveillance by the National Security Agency, the most unsettling was that the government was accumulating vast numbers of records about the telephone calls of American citizens. In ...

    July 27, 2014

  • Border obsession overlooks trade

    Texas Gov. Rick Perry made headlines recently by ordering 1,000 National Guard troops to the border. This bravado comes at a price: $12 million a month. Perry plans to send the bill the federal government. That’s one way to finance your ...

    July 27, 2014

  • Intercession badly needed in this world

    Yesterday was my feast day, or as the Italians call it, my “onomastico.” Since I live in the United States, it went completely unnoticed. If I lived in Italy, however, I would have been showered with cards and phone calls. That’s because ...

    July 27, 2014

  • Porch leap looked muchbigger as a kid

    It’s no secret that porch designs have changed over the years. Drive through new Norman developments and look at the porches. Most only have room for a potted plant and a spot to drop those UPS packages, no place for a porch swing or ...

    July 27, 2014

  • Keeping the war buried

    International outrage over the downing of a Malaysian passenger plane over Ukraine on July 17 does not appear to have affected either the actions of pro-Russia forces in that country or the material support Russia is offering the rebels. ...

    July 26, 2014

  • Gaza’s victims: civilians and peace

    After more than two weeks of fighting between Hamas and Israel, there is no question which side has the upper hand. Thursday’s strike on a U.N.-run school for Palestinian children increased the Palestinian death toll to more than 760. By ...

    July 26, 2014

  • Norman Forward builds momentum

    The quiet campaign to build momentum for a citywide public works project is beginning to attract some attention....

    July 20, 2014

  • Tax those trees out of here

    I read your editorial “Pesky red cedars” in the Norman Transcript of Tuesday, July 15, 2014. I have attended two meetings where the problem of the eastern red cedar trees was discussed. Because of the drought conditions in Oklahoma, we ...

    July 20, 2014

  • Make gun safety a health issue

    Quick, are you more likely to die by a bullet or in a car crash? Common sense would seem to suggest the latter. Cars are everywhere. We are an auto-obsessed nation. To be American is to drive — everywhere. Teenagers itch to get behind the ...

    July 20, 2014

  • They just want to be free ... maybe

    Massoud Barzani, president of Iraq’s semiautonomous Kurdistan region, rattled many cages this month when he announced in parliament that the KRG would be moving ahead soon on a referendum on independence from Iraq. If Kurdistan goes ahead ...

    July 20, 2014