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An architectural rendering of the proposed pedestrian plaza in front of the Hallie Brown Ford Fine Arts Center on East Main Street shows space that can be used for art fairs, food festivals, student art exhibits, live music shows and many other outdoor events.

The rendering, created by Rees Associates Architects of Oklahoma City, looks east from just inside the entrance of the proposed plaza toward Science Hall at the east end of Main Street. Rees Associates is the architectural firm that designed the fine arts center now under construction.

The plaza would extend one block east from Center Street to Francis Street and continue north on Francis for one block.

"This plaza will be a wonderful addition to the Ada community as well as advance the arts. We appreciate the overwhelming community support of this project and the City Council's desire to enhance Ada," said Dr. Richard Rafes, ECU president.

The concept was proposed to the Ada City Council in January. The council is expected to vote on whether to close the one-block section of Main Street and one block of Francis Street to traffic and construct a plaza in its place at its meeting on March 17.

"Members of the council wanted to give the community time to ask questions and address concerns over the plaza before making a decision," Rafes said. "There appears to be a general consensus for construction of the pedestrian plaza as a result of many supportive letters and phone calls received from Ada residents."

The city already had allocated $250,000 to repave the street around the fine arts center.

"However," Rafes said, "if the city council votes to construct the plaza in place of the streets, it will save taxpayers about $50,000."

The concept of the pedestrian plaza emerged from several community planning meetings regarding the development of a cultural arts district on East Main. With input from the community, ECU developed plans for a pedestrian plaza adjacent to the campus and inside the arts district.

Public parking will be available in ECU's parking lots. More parking lots will be added.

"Center Street will re-open and be consistent with traffic patterns on Francis Street and traffic will likely not increase around Willard School during daytime hours," Rafes said.

Proponents of the plaza plans say it will help beautify Ada, create a traffic-free and safe area for ECU students and residents to hold outdoor activities, tie into the city's walking trail, and provide a pleasant place for people to mingle.

Rafes said the new Hallie Brown Ford Fine Arts Center is one example of people coming together to improve Ada and its quality of life. With more than $9 million in donations from Ford and other private donors, as well as bond issues and other funding, the impressive structure shows a commitment to the arts and the life of residents of Ada.

The plaza also addresses the needs of student safety, Rafes pointed out, as three academic departments move to the new fine arts center.

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