By Emily Le Coz/NEMS Daily Journal
TUPELO – City leaders this week gave their informal consent for what could become a permanent trend in Tupelo’s roadside landscaping.
The mayor and City Council on Tuesday unofficially supported a plan to install a $125,000 irrigation system along the soon-to-be-widened portion of South Gloster Street.
Although they didn’t vote, city officials said they liked the idea and encouraged Major Thoroughfare Program Committee Chairman Greg Pirkle to pursue the plan.
The South Gloster Street widening is a project of the Major Thoroughfare Program, a taxpayer-funded initiative that improves the city’s most widely traveled streets.
Pirkle had sought the mayor and council’s guidance on the matter before recommending the irrigation system to his committee. If it’s approved, the system’s cost will be paid by the MTP. It also will be the first time the committee installs such a feature along its road projects.
But it shouldn’t be the last time, said Ward 3 Councilman Jim Newell, who wants irrigation for all future road projects involving landscaped rights of ways.
The idea originated with a request earlier this summer by Tupelo Public Works Director Sid Russell.
He said his department already struggles to water the more than 400 landscaping beds and 35 acres of turf along Tupelo’s rights of way. He sends a crew out daily in one of three watering trucks, but it’s time-consuming and costly – especially in hot, dry conditions.
If the MTP Committee wants to keep its roads landscaped, Russell said, it will continue to strain his department.
“It’s very labor intense,” he said. “We want what’s best for everybody as a whole in the long run – not today, this year, or five years from now, but 50 years from now. And we feel like irrigation is a vital link to that.”