Letters to the Editor

By NEMS Daily Journal

Tupelo Birthplace Trail plan tied to downtown widening
As we move forward for a vote by the City Council on the three-lane concept for the Main Street Master Plan/Tupelo Birthplace Trail, it seems timely to restate how the plan began and what, if approved, it can mean to our community.
The Main Street Master Plan/Tupelo Birthplace Trail, an initiative of the Downtown Tupelo Main Street Program is a plan that has taken many years to develop. What started as a program to replace trees along Main Street that had reached their life expectancy has transformed into a plan that has won national acclaim from the non-profit Project for Public Spaces and the National Trust Main Street Center as an example and pilot for livable communities. The components of the plan have been developed through research of other communities with similar issues, working with experienced traffic engineers and listening to the needs and concerns of businesses and citizens of Tupelo. The concept follows the Complete Streets Program previously adopted by the City Council and also addresses key components of the 2025 Comprehensive Plan, also adopted by the City Council. In addition, through new guidelines set forth by the Federal Highway Administration and the Mississippi Department of Transportation it offers Tupelo two distinct opportunities that were not available at the onset of the planning process. First, the plan allows us the opportunity to expand the plan and connect to the Presley Heights Neighborhood and our number one tourist attraction, thus providing a boost for potential economic development opportunities. Second, it provides 80 percent ($2.3 million dollars) funding for needed road maintenance and this funding will help lower the cost for the Major Thoroughfare plans for East Main Street.
We should also be reminded that in 1991 the City adopted the 2010 Comprehensive Plan. Consultants told us then that if certain measures were not taken with transportation, neighborhood reinvestment and initiating tools to create a more livable community, we would only see about a 2 percent growth. Twenty years later, that prediction has come true. Initiatives such as this are not the plan of the day, they are tools at our disposal to keep our community growing and prospering. They come from a citizen driven initiative that identifies and addresses key opportunities for economic growth from the 2025 Comprehensive Plan. The Main Street Master Plan answers directives of this Comprehensive Plan.
The plan has now been on hold for more than a year while more research has been done and the concept tested. Even under the worst case scenario it has been proven to work. Yes, it is a change, yes ,there is still work to do to improve on the functionality, but overall that plan works. Its implementation is yet another catalyst for future economic growth. These opportunities help to stabilize our tax base, opportunities for new and existing businesses and thus job creation. All of these things go toward the bottom line of a financially strong and prosperous community.
Debbie Brangenberg
Director

Downtown Tupelo Main Street Association
SBA encourages applicants to seek for storm loans

The deadline for Mississippi survivors of the April 15 – 28 tornadoes and storms to register for federal disaster assistance is Tuesday, June 28, 2011.
Many forms of assistance may be available to help individuals and business owners recover and rebuild if they register. For example, the Individuals and Households Program provides funds directly to households affected by the disaster to assist with minor repairs and clean up, rental assistance for temporary housing, and other disaster-related needs.
Low-interest disaster loans are available to both home and business owners through the U.S. Small Business Administration. Farmers and ranchers who lost livestock or had damage to crops, farm buildings and other agricultural assets also may be eligible for loans from the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
The 29 counties facing the June 28 deadline are: Alcorn, Attala, Chickasaw, Choctaw, Clarke, Clay, Coahoma, DeSoto, Greene, Grenada, Hinds, Holmes, Jasper, Kemper, Lafayette, Leflore, Marshall, Monroe, Montgomery, Neshoba, Newton, Panola, Quitman, Smith, Sunflower, Tishomingo, Tunica, Webster and Winston.
Survivors can register for aid, get information about assistance programs and follow up on their applications by calling 800-621-FEMA (3362) or TTY 800-462-7585 for those with speech or hearing impairments. Multi-lingual operators are available to answer calls. Residents also can register online anytime at www.disasterassistance.gov.
“The deadline to register for disaster assistance is rapidly approaching,” said Federal Coordinating Officer Terry Quarles. “We urge all disaster survivors to register before it’s too late.”
Burl Kelton
Public Information Officer
U.S. Small Business Administration
Clinton