Sarah Hurd / KGOU

It’s a cool Tuesday evening at the Cleveland County Fairgrounds in Norman. Trucks and trailers are in the parking lot with watermelon, pumpkins, and other produce. Each vendor sets up a tent in front of a trailer. On their tables, staples are laid out in baskets and bags. Elza Elam’s table has a full array of produce for this evening’s market including tomatoes, okra and peas.

Lake Thunderbird, near Norman, Okla.
Logan Layden / StateImpact Oklahoma

Norman voters in January approved a water rate increase to pay for much needed improvements at the city’s water treatment plant, and in 2014, the city council decided to meet Norman’s future water needs through reuse and wells, rather than rely mor

Signs dot the lawns of supporters of Norman Forward along South Lahoma Ave.
Brian Hardzinski / KGOU

Voters will decide Tuesday on one of Norman’s largest capital improvement projects in recent memory. Norman Forward is a 15-year half-a-percent sales tax that’s expected to raise more than $200 million for more than a dozen quality-of-life initiatives. But some citizens are concerned it’s too much over too long of a period.

“We can pick the most popular projects and build slowly instead of trying to bite it off all in one chunk,” said Norman resident Jim Seifried.

A Norman Forward sign on Flood Ave. across from McKinley Elementary.
Brian Hardzinski / KGOU

For months, drivers around Norman have probably noticed red-and-blue "Norman Forward" signs adorning medians, parking strips, and front lawns.

On Tuesday, the City Council approved an ordinance to put a half-penny sales tax on the ballot this fall that's more or less Norman's version of Oklahoma City's MAPS 3 proposal.

Journal Record managing editor Adam Brooks says the 15-year sales tax extension's goal is to raise $209 million to fund revenue bonds.

Storm debris piled along 36th Ave. NW just north of Tecumseh Road in Norman
Jacob McCleland / KGOU

The City of Norman is starting debris collection Wednesday after tornadoes and straight-line winds caused heavy damage in the northwest part of the city a week ago.

The city is working with TFR Enterprises of Leander, Tex. to remove tree branches, vegetation, trash, and other debris from the street right-of-way, which is definied as an area 15 feet behind the edge of the street. 

Kevin Anders, standing at the lectern, who represents Midwest City on the Central Oklahoma Master Conservancy District board, engaged in an exchange with council members Tuesday about whether he would support the water reuse plan.
Sarah Terry-Cobo / The Journal Record

Tuesday night the city council in Midwest City approved a non-binding resolution rejecting a water proposal that would put treated wastewater back in Lake Thunderbird.

The large reservoir about 10 miles east of Norman is shared by the two communities, as well as Del City. All three draw raw water from the lake, but two city officials disagree over how and where to treat the wastewater in the supply chain.

Norman Utilities Director Ken Komiske
Logan Layden / StateImpact Oklahoma

With concern over drought at a high point and plans to get water from southeast Oklahoma falling through, the City of Norman decided in 2014 to pursue a plan to clean water that has been used by customers and return it to Lake Thunderbird — the city’s main water source — to be used again.

Demonstrators outside the Norman City Hall before a city council committee met to discuss changes to oil and gas drilling rules.
Logan Layden / StateImpact Oklahoma

About 60 demonstrators gathered in front of the Norman City Hall Wednesday evening before the city council’s oversight committee met to discuss changes to the Norman’s oil and gas drilling regulations.

The Central Oklahoma Clean Water Coalition hosted the rally. Organizer Casey Holcolm says the current ordinances were written before fracking became so widespread.

Welcome to Norman sign.
Oklahoma Chapter American Planning Association / Creative Commons/Google Images

Some Norman residents fear the city could lose a quaint part of the community if a 1950's neighborhood is razed to make room for a 4.2-acre apartment complex.

Developers want to build 555 apartments that would include 915 beds in studio apartments or units with from one to four bedrooms. A parking garage would be built in the middle of the complex.

The site is within walking distance of the University of Oklahoma campus.

Joy Hampton / The Norman Transcript

The Lowry Room at the Norman Public Library filled to capacity Monday night, and a mass of people packed into the hallways to listen to a forum on hydraulic fracturing that included an OU scientist, an assistant city attorney, and a lawyer from upstate New York who’s helped communities there ban fracking.

StateImpact’s Logan Layden moderated the event as each panelist made a presentation, and read questions from the audience.