Grand design: City's goal to increase rose garden visitation

Published on Wednesday, 23 April 2014 22:46 - Written by KELLY GOOCH

Future plans for the Tyler Municipal Rose Garden include more programming, a building/pavilion for events, new specialty gardens and various aesthetic improvements.

The Tyler City Council on Wednesday approved a Rose Garden Master Plan that, according to City Council communication, addresses things such as programming, ADA access, restroom locations, furniture and lights.

The master plan includes reconstructing the Queen’s Court to offer a venue for a community concert series, art shows, theater or grand weddings and the Rose Festival Queen’s Tea and constructing a garden building/pavilion to host events, parties wedding receptions, etc., according to MHS Planning & Design LLC documents.

Also, constructing a shrub maze, open lawn and interactive water play for children; adding restrooms in the garden; reconstructing the Heritage garden; and constructing a new pedestrian entry into the rose garden building.

It also includes adding a trial garden for roses, as well as adding updated and comfortable furniture, among other things.

“The Tyler Rose Garden — the largest municipal rose garden in the United States — is a wonderful facility,” a document from MHS Planning & Design reads. “The master plan for the garden is intended to make the space even better. With the physical modifications proposed, and the programming outlined, many more can enjoy the splendor of the gardens.”

Mark Spencer, with MHS Planning & Design LLC, said the process of creating the master plan began about a year ago and involved focus groups, as well as receiving feedback from city staff and the park board.

Throughout the process, a primary goal was developed “to increase visitation at the rose garden,” Spencer said.

He said development of the 14-acre garden began about 1940. Construction was interrupted by World War II but was completed in 1952.

According to MHS Planning & Design, the garden “resembled the original design, but placed a much higher emphasis on roses,” and there are now between 30,000 and 32,000 rose bushes and about 600 types of roses in the garden.

Times have changed since 1952, Spencer said, and people now lead more scheduled and programmed lives, so the goal was to see what could be done to increase visitation.

And he said it was determined that creating social gathering areas, increased programming, developing specialty gardens, improving ADA access and signage and providing a restroom facility in the garden should be part of that effort.

Concerts in the park, plays, art exhibits, art classes, date nights, hands-on educational events for children, wedding packages, Christmas events and civic theatre camps are among the additional proposed programming events in the master plan, according to a news release.

Landscape architect Oliver Windham said it’s been a fun experience to work on the master plan and realize this “gem” that is in Tyler.

The master plan will be implemented in nine phases as funding is available, Tyler Parks and Recreation Director Stephanie Rollings said. Funding sources could be public private partnerships, hotel/motel occupancy tax and half cent sales tax.

Phase 1 of the master plan — with a preliminary budget of $575,000 — would include patios at the Queen’s Court and new walkways with ADA accessible routes, according to MHS Planning & Design. The total master plan preliminary cost is $2.9 million.

Also Wednesday, the Tyler City Council approved a construction contract with Longview Bridge and Road, Ltd. for the West Cumberland Road extension project and the Cherryhill Drive extension.

City Engineer Carter Delleney said the Cumberland Road project — about 2.4 miles from South Broadway Avenue to Old Jacksonville Highway — involves four traffic lanes, raised landscaped medians and sidewalks. There also are plans for a bridge over West Mud Creek, along with “connectivity for a future hike and bike trail,” according to a news release.

“This is wonderful project to increase the east-west connection in southern Tyler,” Mayor Barbara Bass said in a statement. “This will give citizens better access to schools, retail, parks and new development. It will also enhance emergency response times and help ease traffic congestion.”

Construction on the Cumberland Road project is expected to begin this summer.