Tupelo Council wants answers on Phase 5

By Emily Le Coz/NEMS Daily Journal

TUPELO – Mounting confusion over how to spend the Major Thoroughfare Program’s next $20 million will land its oversight committee in a meeting with the City Council.
A date hasn’t yet been scheduled, but the council is trying to arrange a powwow with key members of the volunteer-member group sometime early this month.
The meeting came at the request of former Major Thoroughfare Committee member and current Ward 5 Councilman Jonny Davis, who cited recent media reports about the program’s next five-year phase.
On Wednesday, the Daily Journal had reported the suggestions of some city officials that money from the Major Thoroughfare Program fund other municipal needs, like smaller street repairs and neighborhood revitalization.
Now in its fourth phase, the program gets $20 million every five years to improve the city’s major thoroughfares. In the past, it has widened Main and Gloster Streets, as well as Coley Road and Eason and Cliff Gookin Boulevard.
If voters approve a fifth phase in a May special election, the program’s oversight committee will continue its work.
But plans for the fifth phase haven’t yet been approved by the committee or the council, and members of both groups worry the confusion could sour voters’ opinion of the program.
“The apparent lack of communication and misinformation surrounding the Phase 5 issue is unacceptable and needs clarification for the public and for the City Council,” Davis wrote in an e-mail this week to Mayor Jack Reed Jr. and the council.
“This program is too vital to the city of Tupelo,” he said, “and the citizens being served for such premature dialog to continue and to jeopardize its continued success.”
Committee Chairman Greg Pirkle also suggested to his group members they invite the council to one of their upcoming work sessions. In an e-mail he sent this week, he urged them to consider their options for the next phase and prepare for constructive dialog among themselves and with the council.
“The City Council and the administration have always been supportive and available to meet with us, and they have indicated that they are willing to meet with us as we move forward with this decision,” Pirkle wrote to his group. “I will make sure that we ask them to attend at least one of our meetings so that they can clarify their vision and the opinions that they are hearing from their constituents.”

Contact Emily Le Coz at (662) 678-1588 or emily.lecoz@djournal.com.