No action taken on citizen development panel

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By Robbie Ward/NEMS Daily Journal

TUPELO – Mayor Jack Reed Jr.’s plans for managing the West Jackson Street redevelopment project were delayed again Tuesday night when the City Council tabled a proposal to give a citizens’ group authority to make decisions without council approval.
A majority of City Council members have questioned Reed’s idea of a reactivated committee of bankers and real estate agents negotiating and buying property slated for redevelopment without permission each time from the council.
Reed wants the council to approve the spending authority of the executive committee of the nonprofit Neighborhood Development Corporation. The mayor said this would help with day-to-day efforts of the redevelopment project that includes areas along West Jackson Street from North Gloster Street to Joyner Avenue.
“We need the financial and human resources to carry out our vision,” Reed said of the redevelopment plan.
To give council members hesitant about this idea more time to consider it, Reed requested the council put off the vote until later in the month. However, also at the meeting, the council declared its intentions to buy another property in the 1100 block of West Jackson Street.
Under the mayor’s plan, the NDC committee would report monthly to the City Council and have a council member serve in a nonvoting role on the committee. Reed said expertise on the committee would be beneficial when negotiating the purchase of blighted properties. The NDC committee legally can receive funds through the city transferring money to it through an agreement with the Community Development Foundation.
Under the West Jackson Street redevelopment plan, the city will acquire properties, clear them and then sell the land to developers to construct middle-income housing. Duke Loden, chairman of the NDC, said the group of volunteers will not participate in the plan without authority to acquire property without coming to the council first.
robbie.ward@journalinc.com