Colorful drawings were scattered across multiple tables in the Rose Room in the city's Rose Garden Center on Thursday as community members outlined exactly what they thought the area surrounding the building should look like.

Using trace paper, architects and community members re-created the existing space, including Harvey Convention Center, the Rose Garden, Rose Garden Center, East Texas State Fairgrounds, Tyler ISD's football and baseball facilities, Windsor Grove Park and more.

The exercise was to help gain ideas from the public in the early part of a process to create a long-range plan to add an identity to the area to draw more people there on a daily basis, instead of just for special events.

Richardson-based Halff Associates was brought on by the city of Tyler to create a 20-year master plan for the entire area, complete with cost estimates and construction phases.

"People are really reacting positively," said Rick Listner, with Halff Associates. "They like the added green space, the landscaped features. They like circulation of traffic increased and improved to the site, and everyone is passionate about the identity and history of this complex."

The utilitarian space is one of the oldest gathering places in Tyler.

Some concepts explored for the area included a dog park, fire or Earl Campbell sports museum, mixed retail use, a beer garden, children's play areas, a farmer's market and places for food trucks to park.

Options for expanding or renovating Harvey Convention Center, to possibly allow space for night classes or smaller meeting space also was discussed, along with how to bring more technology into the area.

The Mayfair Building, which once hosted Elvis, was also a topic. The building could stay in its current place or be moved on the property. Some wanted to see it returned to a music and performance venue.

The public input will be used to create between eight and 10 preliminary concepts, which will be brought before a steering committee Friday. That committee is comprised of representatives from groups using those facilities.

The steering committee will then give its input on aspects it likes from the preliminary set, and the firm will whittle it down to four semi-final concepts, which will be brought before the public in the spring. Public input from introducing those concepts will be used in a final design concept.

The Tyler Morning Telegraph will attend Friday's steering committee. For updates, follow @TMTFaith on Twitter.


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Faith Harper is an East Texas native working for her hometown newspaper. She specializes in digital content for the Tyler Morning Telegraph. In her spare time, she loves tacos, road trips and is currently learning to sail.