Experts: Add more activities in downtown Tupelo

TUPELO – National experts offered recommendations Thursday for downtown Tupelo, with improvements ranging from crosswalks to adding miniature golf.
The recommendations wrapped up the pilot placemaking project facilitated by the New York City-based Project for Public Spaces and the Washington, D.C,-based National Trust Main Street Center, which is part of the National Trust for Historic Preservation.
The project’s goal was to combine the philosophies of historic preservation and placemaking to make downtown Tupelo district a better place. The region in the study went from Crosstown east to the Elvis Presley Birthplace.
Placemaking, according to the Project for Public Spaces, is turning a neighborhood, town or city from a place you can’t wait to get through to one you never want to leave.
All week, Tupelo residents, city leaders, Main Street officials and downtown business owners critiqued downtown Tupelo. The national experts facilitated the critiques, in addition to doing their own research.
On Thursday, the experts presented their initial recommendations. An expanded written report will be submitted later.
The top recommendations were:
1. Create more multi-use destinations that build on current daily use. Target places, such as the Tupelo Farmers Market and the downtown core, that need things to do every day of the year.
2. Increase connectivity with Main Street. Add food carts and markets. Connect downtown to East Tupelo and the Elvis Presley Birthplace.
3. Experiment. Use traffic cones to test lane configurations, lane widths and roundabouts on Main Street.
4. Rethink parking. Have pedestrian connections between and within parking lots. Don’t tear down buildings for parking.
5. Plan for transportation that connects people and places. Make users safer by creating a balanced system for cars, bikes and people.
6. Integrate plans. Combine and connect the various master plans for downtown Tupelo and Fairpark.
7. Integrate heritage and the arts with placemaking. Interpret Tupelo’s history of Elvis Presley, the tornado, etc. Connect the current art and add more.

Carlie Kollath/NEMS Daily Journal