By Joy Hampton
The Norman Transcript
NORMAN — A unanimous city council moved forward Tuesday night on a project to rejuvenate a portion of core Norman running between Campus Corner and the downtown commercial district.
The Norman City Council met Tuesday at the new Norman Public Schools Administrative Services Building, 131 S. Flood Ave., because the city council chambers and the study session room are closed for construction while new audio and visual equipment is installed.
The primary item under consideration was a contract with the National Charrette Institute in cooperation with the University of Oklahoma.
The Center City Planning project is a collaboration between OU and the city to create a master plan for a 42-block area between Campus Corner and downtown Norman.
The city council unanimously approved the contract with OU and the National Charrette Institute for $200,000 to facilitate a public design and creation of a master plan and zoning code with building form standards for the center city visioning project.
The city’s share of the contract is $100,000 — OU will pay the other half. The city approved a memorandum of understanding with OU on Jan. 14. The charrette contract formalizes the agreement and brings a third-party expert team to the process.
“I’ve been excited about something like this since I was a kid thinking about Campus Corner and downtown and how they could be connected,” Council member Stephen Tyler Holman said.
Gray Street is the north boundary of the project area, with railroad tracks forming the east boundary, Boyd on the south and Park Avenue and Flood Avenue on the west.
Among other issues, the charrette, or collaborative design proposal, will consider the best use for the area, including the possibility of increasing the level of high-density housing allowed in that part of Norman.
The planning and code creation is expected to take about seven months.
Not everyone is happy about the project. Members of the public expressed concern that all of the steering committee meetings on the project remain open to the public. Jayne Crumpley said the boundary of the project backs up to her home.
In other city business, city Manager Steve Lewis reported that the curbside recycling program is going well.
The city entered into a new contract for curbside recycling with Republic Services about six months ago. Residents now have a large, blue polycart for recycling that is picked up biweekly. The larger container allowed for the inclusion of cardboard, which was not picked up under the old contract.
“Our participation rate of people who are eligible to recycle is at about 77 percent now,” Lewis said.
The average tons per month collected have increased from 300 during the old program to 440 over the past six months.
However, collections at drop-off centers has dropped by one-third, decreasing from 120 tons per month to 80 tons per month.
“The waste stream has really shifted from our drop-off center to curbside,” Lewis said.
But even with the decline, about 100 tons per month more are being recycled under the new program. The city is currently working with multi-family customers who want recycling service.
“We’ll lean in to it hard to try to get a pilot project out there,” Lewis said.
Council members and the public also addressed concerns for Norman’s homeless following the recent cold spell.
Mayor Cindy Rosenthal said the One Vision One Voice Coalition is working for a long-term solution to the homeless problem in Norman.
“This group is committed, is working hard together,” Rosenthal said.
The group is a coalition of local agencies that work with the homeless and those at risk of becoming homeless. Rosenthal said the group will be having kickoff campaign March 13.
The city council meeting was not televised Tuesday night because of the change of meeting venue. The meeting was recorded and will be televised today on Channel 20. The special session was not televised because it was a closed-door executive session to discuss agreements with employee groups.
Most other city committees will meet in the multi-purpose room at the Norman Municipal Complex, 201 W. Gray St. The planning commission will meet Thursday in Building A, Conference Room D.
The City Council Oversight committee will meet today at 5:30 at city hall.
One of the items under discussion will be possible changes to the city ordinance limiting single residential homes to no more than three persons living together.
At least one city council member has voiced an interest in eliminating or modifying that ordinance.
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