By Emily Le Coz/NEMS Daily Journal
TUPELO – Mayor Jack Reed Jr.’s sweeping city improvement plan will get further scrutiny by four special focus groups that could report their findings as early as March 22.
The Community Development Foundation will facilitate the process.
“We’re trying to get the politics out of it,” said City Council President Fred Pitts, who on Wednesday announced the newest development in the continuously changing plan to revitalize Tupelo.
Reed had first unveiled the initiative, called the All America City Plan, in January as a means to reinvest in older neighborhoods.
Since then it has evolved to include a university tuition guarantee program for Tupelo High School graduates, a proposed moratorium on Section 8 housing, a city-backed home loan program and the hiring of more code-enforcement officers.
Together the initiatives aim to retain Tupelo’s middle class and improve public education – both of which appear at risk as the city loses population and students to the county.
Council members have been divided over Reed’s plan and its components, in large part because they say it lacks the hard data necessary to win their votes.
Now, they will partner with business leaders and community stakeholders in groups to research each plan and hash out their details.
Citizen group members currently are being identified and contacted, said CDF President and CEO David Rumbarger.
CDF will act as the groups’ facilitator and research arm, Rumbarger said.
“It will be a quick and intense process, and we hope to report findings back to the council at its March 22 meeting,” he said. “Afterward, we expect it to be presented to the broader community for more input.”
Each group will tackle a component of the mayor’s plan: neighborhood revitalization; the university tuition guarantee program; city-backed home loans; and code enforcement, which also includes Section 8 housing.
Reed said he welcomed the help of the CDF and its business leaders.
Contact Emily Le Coz at (662) 678-1588 or firstname.lastname@example.org.