Independence Day

Independence Day has always been one of my favorite holidays. Not only for the obvious reason as we celebrate the birth of our great nation, but I love all the trappings of the day: fireworks, parades, patriotic music, grilling out, family and so much more.

Regardless of where I am on July 4, I always pause to consider our country’s founding and what went into the creation of a new nation. While it’s easy to elevate the patriots of our founding, I appreciate the public servants who continue to step up in modern times to lead at all levels of government.

I can’t say thank you enough to former Mayor Lynne Miller and Council member Robert Castleberry for their years of dedication and service to our community. We owe them a debt of gratitude. Likewise, I appreciate our returning councilmembers: Bierman, Carter, Hickman, Wilson, Holman and Scott. I’m also looking forward to working with our new councilmembers Petrone and Scanlon.

Lastly, congrats to Mayor Breea Clark. Her passion, energy and ideas will serve her well. While these modern-day patriots may not be struggling with birthing a nation, they are still working to address the challenges of the state’s third largest city in the 21st century.

America’s Founding Fathers took the struggles of the day to catapult our nation into greatness. At times, Norman is faced with what seems like insurmountable issues. While the times are different, hard choices and decisions must be made with lasting implications on the line.

These modern-day public servants are not creating a document that expresses the hopes and dreams of a country, rather, they are fulfilling the will of the voters who entrusted them with the authority to govern.

One such area that is currently being discussed and will impact generations of Normanites, is the implementation of Norman Forward projects, in particular the multi-sports facility and indoor aquatic center. These projects will serve thousands of Norman citizens and attract thousands of visitors to our community.

I love to hear life-long Norman residents tell stories of playing ball in the Optimist gym. My children are making those same memories on the Optimist courts and on the fields of Griffin Park. Like many families, we are hoping to see tremendous improvements to these offerings. The voters stepped up to support these quality-of-life improvements, expecting a vast change in these areas of Norman.

I don’t know about you, but I have always expected Norman to be the model for youth sports and quality of life in our state. Norman Forward will help achieve that goal.

Recently, the council took another Norman Forward project — the senior center — and finalized its location. After receiving much input from our senior community and education on the issue, the council decided to reverse course from renovating the central library and will build a 21st century stand-alone senior center at Reaves Park. I liken the multi-sports facility and indoor aquatic center to the senior center.

The interest groups who have shepherded these projects are pleading to be located on a prime location in University North Park. It appears the council is heeding this desire and will soon finalize the site selection. Can you imagine the synergy of having both facilities located right off one of the state’s busiest highways, next to hotels, shopping and dining?

We will become the state’s go-to destination for youth sports and most importantly, offer Norman citizens — young and old — a world class opportunity to participate in basketball, volleyball, cheer, swimming and overall better health.

Like our Founding Fathers rose to the occasion at Independence Hall, I expect our council will rise to the challenge at city hall. They can create something truly unique in our state and region and help improve our local economy and stabilize their own city budget.

Contact them now so they understand the gravity of the situation; they will make history with this decision. Today is the time to boldly lead as our founders did 243 years ago.

Scott Martin, Norman Chamber of Commerce president and CEO, can be reached at 321-7260.

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