TUPELO – The city will hold two public meetings next week to explain the Tupelo Neighborhood Reinvestment Plan, a $15.7 million proposal that has drawn both praise and criticism since its unveiling in March.
Both meetings will be at 6 p.m. and will last about 90 minutes. The first will be Monday at the BancorpSouth Arena, the second on Thursday, May 12, at the Link Centre.
“The main purpose is for people to understand what the plans are, to educate the public,” said City Council President Fred Pitts. “This is a chance to hear from the committees that put this plan together.”
Meeting participants will hear a presentation about Tupelo’s current situation and how the plan aims to improve it. They’ll also have a chance to ask questions and leave comments.
The council could vote on the plan as early as June.
The plan was hatched as part of a private-public effort between the city and the Community Development Foundation to tackle Tupelo’s lackluster population growth and declining middle class, as evidenced in the 2010 census.
Four volunteer committees, organized by CDF, developed a series of proposed remedies that include a low-interest loan program to help homebuyers with down payments; stronger code enforcement funded by higher landlord permit fees; a matching grant for homeowners improving their properties; and a program to pay college tuition for graduating high school students.
Supporters say the plan won’t require a tax increase.
Council members said they’ve heard from residents both for and against the plan. Several said reaction has varied by age – younger people tend to support the plan.
“I haven’t talked to anybody under 40 who is against it, but they’re not saying anything,” Pitts said. “It’s the ones against it who speak the loudest.”
Councilmen Jonny Davis, Mike Bryan and Willie Jennings said they’ve noticed a similar trend.
But regardless of age, Davis said, widespread misunderstandings about the plan exist.
“I haven’t talked to anybody who doesn’t recognize we’ve got a problem,” he said, “but they don’t understand how the plan will fix it. But they’re not offering alternatives, either.”
– The city will hold two 90-minute public informational sessions about the Tupelo Neighborhood Reinvestment Plan:
– 6 p.m. Monday at the BancorpSouth Arena, 375 E. Main St.
– 6 p.m. Thursday (May 12) at the Link Centre, 1800 W. Main St.
Emily Le Coz/NEMS Daily Journal