The first workshop for the South 9th Avenue District will be held from 5-7 p.m. Jan. 23 at the Donald W. Reynolds Community Center & Library. Community participation from residents, business owners and interested community members is important for developing an inclusive theme for the district and identifying improvements desired for the corridor, officials say.
Last year, several partners in Durant came together to apply to the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) Our Town Grant. The City of Durant, Oklahoma Shakespearean Festival, Durant Area Chamber of Commerce, Choctaw Nation, Durant Main Street, Durant Independent School District, Imagine Durant, Red River Arts Association, SHARE, Southeastern Oklahoma State University, Texoma Arts Association noted that Durant is a special place and that this opportunity to connect art, history, and culture on South 9th Avenue should not be missed.
“We were fortunate to have been awarded the grant and now the excitement begins,” said Janet Reed, executive director of the Durant Area Chamber of Commerce and Project Director of the Our Town Grant.
The NEA grant is for a planning process to create a vision, identity and theme for South 9th Avenue, identify locations and concepts to improve and create a district, and create a plan for this area. The key to this process is having community participation. This workshop will include activities for business owners, residents and interested community members to share ideas on what are unifying ideas about the history, culture, and special features along South 9th Avenue. This information will be used to create initial ideas for the theme and how it could help improve the corridor, according to officials. Additional workshops (Workshop #2 late Feb/early March, Workshop #3 early April) will follow to help refine the ideas and create the master plan for the corridor. We are assisted by our consultant team Blue Star Integrative Studio and GSBS who were selected during an RFP process.
Organizers say the master plan will help Durant have a guide for the types of projects and opportunities for the corridor. With this in place, applying for grants can be easier as the plan spells out the vision for the area and the value of particular projects. The types of recommendations that may be developed by the community may include infrastructure improvements such as sidewalks or increased street lighting. It also will include how the theme developed can be integrated into both public and private places. Sidewalks could include embedded art that reflects the theme. Property owners may choose to create a mural on a wall or door that is in keeping with the theme. Signage may help guide people to the various businesses and attractions on S. 9th Avenue. These are just examples and through the workshops we will identify where and what types of places might be appropriate.
“Creating a vision for the S. 9th Avenue corridor is a powerful opportunity for Durant to strengthen a unique space between the flourishing City of Durant and the many attractions offered by the Choctaw Nation,” said Principal Architect Scott Moore y Medina from Blue Star Integrative Studio. “This is an important opportunity for those interested to learn more as well as contribute ideas and energy. With a unified master plan and clearcut goals for realizing the plan, many benefits can come to the citizens of this region. That would be a big win for all involved.”
Doors open for the workshop at 5 p.m. Light snacks and refreshments will be available. A translator will be available for those who speak Spanish. For more information, contact Janet Reed at the Durant Chamber of Commerce at 580-924-0848.