PT: local lede

PT: local lede

New members join city’s thoroughfare panel

By Philip Moulden

Daily Journal

Tupelo’s City Council took a big step Tuesday night toward extending the city’s Major Thoroughfare Program of street improvements, naming 20 new members to a Phase Two project review committee.

Phase One of the program, begun in 1991, is scheduled to wind up this year.

There was little debate on the new appointments to PRIDE II, with two people recommended by each of the nine council members and the mayor. They will join members from the first PRIDE committee and the Major Thoroughfare Oversight Committee to sift through engineering reports and determine projects for the Phase Two program.

Ward 2 Councilman Sims Reeves did question the size of the resulting panel, suggesting it might be too unwieldy.

“The more people you have involved, the more difficult it is to get a consensus,” Reeves said.

Mayor Jack Marshall conceded the overall committee will be large, perhaps surpassing 40 members, but said the administration believes updated traffic studies will make clear to most members the major needs of the city.

Among advantages of a large committee, the mayor said, is that it will give the program “a large number of citizens” to carry the program’s message to other residents, who must approve extension of the 10-mill special tax if the program is to continue.

The new committee is scheduled to meet Monday to consider engineering reports. Administration officials hope the group can agree on a program by late March or early April so a referendum on the tax can be conducted in June.

Officials estimate the tax would raise $12 million to $14 million over the five-year term for Phase Two. They also hope to sweeten that pie with state and federal grants.

In other action in the council’s brief 32-minute meeting, members approved a contract for Nelson Thornton Consultants of Jackson to help devise a Tupelo Comprehensive Housing Strategy.

The plan calls for developing strategies to tackle a full range of housing needs in the city, from providing affordable housing for the young and old to upgrading dilapidated neighborhoods, city Planning Director Fred Rogers said.

The work is expected to cost about $20,000, with the city supplying $10,000 and a CREATE Inc. grant providing the other $10,000.

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