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January 8, 2014

City council members identifying tasks for new economic development advisory board

NORMAN — The city’s seven-member economic development advisory board has yet to formally meet, but city council members have started making a list of tasks for them to tackle.

A city retreat last year and a study session Tuesday night identified potential tasks. Members appointed in 2013 include Chuck Thompson, Ben Graves, Chris Purcell, Alexander Holmes, Edd Painter, Hossein Farzaneh and Renee Porter.

Potential tasks include choosing economic analysis tools, West Main Street and Ed Noble Parkway revitalization, Campus Corner and downtown Norman parking solutions, NCVB room tax allocation, University North Park TIF funds and development of an RFP for evaluation of wastewater excise tax.

Council member Greg Heiple said he wants the city to know that some attention is being paid to the Ed Noble Parkway retail strip, which has seen vacancies in recent years. 

City Manager Steve Lewis said an overall retail study is planned for the entire city, “but we’ve identified that for a closer look.”

Later, on a separate study session topic, council members were hung up on whether a three-member executive committee of the Center City Master Vision process with OU and the city of Norman should be an open meeting.

A 16-member steering committee will look at long-range plans for a large section of core Norman west of the railroad tracks, north of Boyd Street and south of Tonhawa Avenue. 

The process came out of last year’s high-density development discussions. Executive committee members are Mayor Cindy Rosenthal and Richard McKown serving as co-chairs and OU representative Daniel Pullin.

The city and the University of Oklahoma are considering a memorandum of understanding for the visioning process. Each entity will provide up to $100,000 for a consultant to work on the study.

Council member Robert Castleberry said he wanted full transparency.

“It’s just transparency. There’s no reason that any city committee doesn’t follow the Open Meetings Act,” he said.

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