By Emily Le Coz/NEMS Daily Journal
TUPELO – City officials spent three hours Tuesday dissecting a broad neighborhood revitalization plan pitched last week by the Community Development Foundation.
CDF had organized four ad-hoc committees to research and develop the plans at the request of Mayor Jack Reed Jr., who wants to stop Tupelo’s population decline – especially the middle class.
Several of the committee members also attended the meeting.
Included in the plan are a college-tuition guarantee, a city-backed low-interest loan and a code-enforcement crackdown funded by fees charged to landlords.
Together, they’re aimed at retaining families who otherwise might leave the city and attracting new families into the fold.
“This is big government is what it is,” said Ward 3 Councilman Jim Newell, who criticized nearly every aspect of the plan.
“It’s not big government,” countered Reed, who accused Newell of bullying people. “It’s big citizens.”
Other council members voiced general support of the plan – or at least several aspects of it during the work session at City Hall. About 45 residents also attended the meeting but didn’t speak.
“I think all four strategies together are a powerful statement and will be revolutionary in the state of Mississippi,” said Ward 1 Councilman Markel Whittington. “Vision without action is nothing more than daydreaming.”
Although the council didn’t adopt the plan this week, the CDF Board of Directors unanimously endorsed it Monday, said CDF President and CEO David Rumbarbarger.
The council will need more time. Ward 7 City Councilman Willie Jennings said it’ll take several more work sessions and probably a public hearing before the group is ready to vote.
Read Wednesday’s NEMS Daily Journal for the full story.