Plan to improve West Jackson advances

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By Robbie Ward/NEMS Daily Journal

TUPELO – Advancing Tupelo Mayor Jack Reed Jr.’s vision to redevelop blighted areas along West Jackson Street, he and City Council members discussed Thursday having a nonprofit board of directors responsible on the initiative.
City leaders met for work session to explain details with creating a partnership with the Community Development Foundation to funnel taxpayer money into a committee focused on neighborhood revitalization.
The City Council is expected to vote approving the CDF partnership in the coming weeks.
Currently, City Council members meet in closed session to discuss acquiring property for the redevelopment project. Reed and council members see the partnership as an opportunity to bring in more community support and insight.
The proposal aims to provide city tax dollars to the nonprofit Neighborhood Development Corporation, which supports redeveloping struggling neighborhoods in Tupelo and Lee County. The NDC board is comprised mostly of bankers.
“The council would be taken out of this,” Reed said about buying property. “This group will deal directly with that.”
Councilman Mike Bryan of Ward 6 said he supported the intent of the proposed committee but wanted to maintain close communication as the group makes decisions with taxpayer money.
“I don’t want to hand y’all $2 million and just see a monthly report,” Bryan said.
While the proposed agreement with the city and the CDF is one year, it’s expected to last at least three years or longer.
“I hope in 10, 20 years from now, this same committee is going through the city,” to look for improvement opportunities, Reed said. “This is a way for us to continually try to upgrade housing in our city and neighborhoods.”
NDC board members are intended to directly negotiate with owners of property targeted by the city for acquisition. Under Reed’s approach, the nonprofit board members would provide an annual report of expenses and revenues to the City Council each year.
As more property is acquired, the city is expected to sell it to developers to build homes targeting middle-class residents.
robbie.ward@journalinc.com