The idea of a Greenbelt System for Norman emerged from a planning process launched by the city in the early 1990s. The resulting Norman 2020 Land Use and Transportation Plan was completed in September 1996, and contained five goals, No. 5 being the idea for a greenbelt.
"Goal 5. Greenbelt Development. Establish a greenbelt system for Norman. Policies identified with that goal include:
- Use greenbelts to preserve environmentally sensitive lands which, generally, are also the least suitable for development.
- Use the greenbelt area to link together existing recreation areas.
- Create a multipurpose greenbelt corridor."
To assess that goal, the City Council appointed the Citizens Greenbelt Steering Committee to study the feasibility and merits of the idea. The seven-member committee reviewed a wide variety of rural and urban programs and projects across the United States and in Britain, where the greenbelt concept originated. It produced a document called "A Report on Greenbelts and Greenways for Norman, Oklahoma" (click to download a PDF version) and presented the report to the City Council in October 1997. The report's conclusion was positive.
The committee recommended that the greenbelt ideas be pursued because of their "enormous immediate and long-term benefits" in the areas of economic impact and quality of life.
In the late fall of 1999, the Steering Committee chair was asked to recommend a "Proposed Study and Scope of Work" for establishing a Greenbelt System. On February 22, 2000, the City Council created the Greenbelt Commission and appointed  members to draft a plan.
On July 29, 2002, the Greenbelt Commission presented its proposal, “Green Dreams,” to a joint study session of the Norman City Council and the Norman Planning Commission.