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May 7, 2014

Tough choices lead to downgrade of park road

NORMAN — Not enough money, Norman City Council members said while slashing $225,000 to rebuild failing roads in Reaves Park to $50,000 for an asphalt overlay.

Comprised of nearly 80 acres in the center of Norman, Reaves Park is one of Norman’s largest parks and serves as a gathering for public events, including Medieval Fair, Fourth of July fireworks and the Earth Day Festival.

Norman Streets Superintendent Greg Hall reported that a section of asphalt roadway has failed, as has a longer concrete section that serves as the park entrance from Jenkins Avenue, then turns south to exit at Constitution Street.

To save money, Norman’s city road crews will do the repair work. The short asphalt section will be completely replaced, but the cement section will be repaired with an asphalt overlay that Hall said could buy the city about five to seven years. At a budgeted cost of $50,000 for the project, that’s about $10,000 per year.

Originally, the road was budgeted for $225,000 for a cement replacement that would hopefully last another 50 years.

Earlier, council members considered removing the project from the budget entirely — at that time, there were discussions of trading the developed park acres to the university — but those talks are reportedly off the table. Now, council members said, the funds are just not available.

“My overall preference would be to reconstruct it,” Ward 7 Council member Stephen Holman said. However, he doesn’t know where the money would come from for the road repairs.

The proposed capital budget was impacted by a $600,000 cost increase for the Robinson Street railroad underpass project. That hefty price tag came as part of a long-negotiated final bill and represents the city’s share of the Oklahoma Department of Transportation-managed project.

Another $125,000 was added for the Griffin Master Plan — a redevelopment study of the property owned by the Oklahoma Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services along Robinson Street and 12th Avenue Northeast.

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