Tupelo eyes Ida Street for drainage upgrade

By Emily Le Coz/NEMS Daily Journal

TUPELO – After years of drainage woes leading to street and sidewalk damage, Ida Street could become the city’s next major improvement project.
Tupelo leaders voted Tuesday to seek a Community Development Block Grant to pay for half of an estimated $520,000 drainage upgrade in the mostly low-income neighborhood.
The city will learn whether it wins the grant in November, said Tupelo grant administrator Terri Blissard. If it does, work could begin as early as next spring.
But it needs public support to win, she said. Residents can write letters in support of the project and are encouraged to attend a public hearing at 10 a.m. on May 4 at City Hall.
Ida Street has long suffered from inadequate storm water drainage, which, in addition to creating flood hazards, has caused damage to the road and sidewalks, according to Public Works Director Sid Russell, who called the area “high priority.”
Although Ida stretches more than one mile from Monument Drive east to Industrial Road, the drainage problems are heaviest between Industrial and Tedford Street, Russell said. Ida is home to numerous residents, most of whom live in the low-income apartment buildings lining the length of the street. A few businesses also are located there.
City leaders have long considered the area as blighted and have talked about revitalizing it to attract more middle-income families. Mayor Jack Reed Jr. this week called the anticipated drainage project a good first step.
“I can’t think of a better place in Tupelo to go in and turn things around,” Reed said. “Anything and everything we can do for the Ida Street area, I think we need to throw every weapon we’ve got at it to help.”
If the city gets the Community Development Block Grant, it will be the second one in recent years. Tupelo completed a $245,677 Haven Acres sewer project with CDBG money in November.
“Had we not closed out the Haven Acres project,” Blissard said, “we would not be eligible for this one.”
emily.lecoz@journalinc.com