By Robbie Ward/NEMS Daily Journal
As the city of Tupelo looks for future growth, Jim Goodwin, chairman of the city’s Planning Commission, discussed with Daily Journal reporter Robbie Ward some challenges and current projects facing the city.
Q: As chairman of the Planning Commission, what do you see as the biggest challenge facing Tupelo related to planning and development?
A: I believe that we as citizens are very lucky to have a talented and experienced group of professionals in the City Planning Department, led by B.J. Teal. Our biggest challenge is what I would call a “good problem to have.” Tupelo is transforming as our economy transforms and we need to be anticipating and thoughtfully planning for that change, which I think we are with initiatives like the roadwork around town and the adoption of the Comprehensive Plan.
For the Planning Commission we need first and foremost to be fair and to follow the appropriate ordinances and code as we try to balance the interests of property and business owners with the long-term interests of the city.
Q: What impact do you see the city’s updated development code having for future growth and development, both residential and commercial?
A: The updated development code is more evolutionary than revolutionary. It provides for issues that were not in our past consideration set, like digital signs. It is also easier to read and understand. It is more colloquial, which will help us in communication with both personal property and business owners. This is a document that supports prudent growth and development; it is not an “enforcement” mechanism. And it provides the process and language to link where we are now with what we believe is a positive future state for the city as envisioned in the Comprehensive Plan.
Q: Declining neighborhoods continue to be a concern throughout much of Tupelo. How important is the West Jackson Street revitalization project for the city?
A: Reversing neighborhood decline is good for property owners, it is good for the tax base, and it is good for economic development. We need to create a thoughtful plan that our city leaders and citizens are comfortable with and we need to apply that plan first on a small scale to help us learn from it and refine it. And that is what I think the City Council and the Neighborhood Development Corporation have in mind for West Jackson Street. This is a major artery that many of us use and creating new housing that would attract young people and elderly into an area specifically designed for their lifestyles and income levels would, I think, serve the interests of our city, its people, and economic development.