A committee of leaders from key Tyler institutions have organized to collaborate ways to make the area around Harvey Convention Center and the Tyler Rose Garden a livelier asset to the community.
The end goal is to make a destination space utilized during the week and all year instead of only for big events, like ball games, the fair and the Texas Rose Festival.
Wednesday was the first meeting of the Tyler Rose Complex Steering Committee, a group charged with helping develop a master plan for the properties surrounding the Rose Garden.
The master plan includes the Park of East Texas, which operates the East Texas State Fair, as well as Christus Mother Frances Rose Stadium, Mike Carter Field, the Tyler Civic Theatre, Winsor Park and the space currently housing the Tyler Fire Department administrative offices.
"If you think about the assets that are out here … it's an incredible facility complex and anchor for the city," said state Sen. Kevin Eltife, chairman of the steering committee.
The planning process is under the direction of the Richardson-based firm HALFF and Associates. The firm created the Fort Worth Stockyards master plan.
For its first meeting, the steering committee made introductions, and Rick Listner, with HALFF, went over key objectives and areas of opportunity and concern.
It was the first meeting in a 10-month process to come up with a master plan to suit the needs of a variety of entities using the space. That process will involve public input and information sessions.
"This site, as far as I'm concerned, has one of the most significant opportunities to grow in this community, outside of downtown and areas off the interstate," Listner said. "This is a significant opportunity for tourism, culture and community involvement from a neighborhood standpoint. We will be looking at how we can leverage opportunities to grow economic development."
Listner, and others, emphasized the need for the final plan to be achievable. He said the final product will be broken into construction phases, and be financially realistic to implement. To be successful, Listner said the company needed honest input from the institutions as well as the public.
The steering committee includes representatives from the Tyler ISD, city, Tyler Junior College, Tyler Civic Theatre, Texas Rose Festival, Tyler Lodging Association, SPORTyler and Visit Tyler.
Leisner outlined nine major areas of focus: economic development, peacemaking, quality of life, mobility and parking, citizen engagement, Harvey reuse, entertainment and athletic planning, neighborhood connectivity and implementation.
The ultimate goal would be to create a space with things for families to do year-round, while remaining a good neighbor to those who live near the facility.
Parking is a significant area of study. Listner said he looks forward to visiting the Texas State Fair on a Saturday while a football game is underway at Rose Stadium.
"This looks intense, especially when things are overlapping," he said.
Committee members mentioned updating the restroom facilities.
The firm is interested in sprucing up Harvey Convention Center and "place making," which Listner said was a fancy way of saying "creating a beautiful space."
"This area is intensely used at many times of the year," he said. "It would be nice if it was a little more aesthetically pleasing and more inviting."
Other objectives include evaluating how to cross-plan events between the groups.
A key component to the plan is public input.
HALFF will have six ways for the public to participate in the planning process. The firm will build a website to link to the city's website, where the public can go to find presentations, submit comments or suggestions and be notified of the meeting times.
The process will include at least three evening public participation workshops.
There will be a two-day-long workshop, where HALLF and stakeholders will outline plans. Both evenings, there will be a public presentation on the progress the group made. The workshop will be used to create three tentative designs that will be presented to the public.
A public online survey is in the works.
"It's important that everyone in this room communicate with neighbors to let them know this study is going on, the importance of it and to voice your opinions - let them know," Listner said.
The master plan will be created in three main phases.
The first phase centers on information gathering. It is anticipated to last until the Christmas holiday. During that time, HALFF will conduct stakeholder interviews with each of the entities utilizing the space. They will go over exactly how they use it, the things that work well in the space and the challenges.
That's the timeframe that a website and public will be created.
The two-day workshop is tentatively scheduled for the end of October.
After that, the first community input session is scheduled for December. It will focus on drafting overall goals and hearing any suggestions from the public on areas of concern in the area.
The second phase will focus on creating three separate concepts. Those will be presented to the public in February.
Residents will be able to pick and choose the concept they think is best, or select best-liked elements from the three concepts.
The firm will take the community input, make adjustments and present a final plan to the public sometime in March.
Then starts phase three, which involves breaking that plan down into phases and calculating costs.
The finalized plan and costs are scheduled for presentation to the Planning and Zoning Commission and the Tyler City Council in June, according to the firm.