Members of the city's Design Review Committee will take a walking tour of downtown parking lots this week - a precursor to the group's first serious look at design options prepared by the University of Oklahoma School of Landscape Architecture.

Six months ago, OU graduate students presented a series of concepts designed to create downtown shopping appeal and improve the district's “green” value.

Last week, four of five committee members - each selected by Miami Mayor Brent Brassfield - gathered for the first time. Later, the group will recommend a design, or a combination of the proposed concepts, to the city council for consideration.

The committee is comprised of members Cindy Tanner, Ann Neal, Fay Culver, Jessica Stout and Virgie Brassfield.

Using successful programs borrowed from communities studied nationwide and applying data gathered during a site analysis of Miami, the graduates suggest that “green street” efforts, “rain garden” projects and pedestrian-friendly concepts could work well in Miami's downtown revitalization efforts.

According to Leehu Loon, assistant professor of landscape architecture at the OU, students focused their efforts on improving downtown streetscapes, parking lots and a proposed pocket park - but looked at Miami's residential neighborhoods, parks and commercial areas before considering their approach to downtown designs.

Proposed street designs, if implemented, will offer aesthetic enhancement through vegetation and trees. It will also allow stormwater runoff to be cleansed and directed into drains.

“It is important that we continue to look at these plans and not them die,” said Larry Eller, the city's community development/grant coordinator. He led the ad hoc committee during its initial meeting on Thursday.

Eller encouraged committee members to put their concerns on the table regarding the issues of downtown parking.

In brief, committee members discussed landscaping, dumpsters, lot design, signage and disability compliance.

The issues will be revisited Thursday as the group will reconvene at 10 a.m. in the city council chambers.

The meeting is open to the public.