Downtown Tupelo dreams big for 2011

EASTPORT – The Downtown Tupelo Main Street Association has big ideas for the future of downtown, including guaranteed snow at Christmas.
The snow event, being called Blue Christmas, was one of dozens of ideas that emerged from the Main Street board’s annual planning retreat last month at Pickwick Lake.
The board members who came up with the idea of Blue Christmas envisioned downtown and Fairpark covered with blue Christmas lights. They also suggested that the dancing fountain be turned blue for the event.
The pièce de résistance would be manmade snow in Fairpark.
Other top ideas from the board members included an initiative to renovate downtown buildings, a project that would educate tourists and locals about Tupelo’s tornado history and a proposal to convert the railroad tracks into a pedestrian path with bike lanes.
The ideas are just ideas right now, said Debbie Brangenberg, executive director of Main Street.
The purpose of the meeting was to determine what Main Street was going to do in fiscal year 2011. Some of the projects, though, will take more like three to five years to tackle, she said.
Members, through a voting exercise, identified real estate development and renovation as the No. 1 priority.
Included in the real estate project is the desire to fill every empty building downtown. The members also plan to see what they can do to encourage current building owners to renovate vacant properties that some may consider an eyesore.
Brangenberg said a first draft of the ideas will be presented to the full board and then, if the board wants to pursue the ideas, they will be delegated to the appropriate committees.
The committee will then formulate an action plan.
Brangenberg said some of the ideas, such as doing window displays in vacant buildings, might be feasible to implement soon.
Other ideas, such as creating a New Year’s Eve ball drop event downtown, will take longer to do.

Carlie Kollath / NEMS Daily Journal