TUPELO – When Ward 3 City Councilman Jim Newell ran for office, he promised stronger neighborhoods and a vibrant South Gloster Street commercial district.
Since getting elected in June, the Republican has wasted no time working toward those goals.
Newell has a tentative commitment from at least one prominent business owner to revive the once-active South Gloster Area Association, which had spearheaded the popular “South Gloster is Alive” campaign in 2005.
Newell said he hopes to get that group reorganized in January.
In the meantime, the councilman helped efforts to form an Audubon neighborhood association. More than 70 residents attended the first meeting last week at Lawndale Presbyterian Church – three times as many as Newell and other coordinators had expected.
“That was a huge turnout for an organizational meeting.” said Zell Long, the city’s community development director. “We never had that many people show up” at a first-time neighborhood association meeting.
Newell said the turnout proves residents are eager for improvement in a ward where most homes date back several decades.
“After a neighborhood reaches 20-30 years old, you start to see turnover and decline as people leave for the next new subdivision or development,” Newell said. “But we’ve only got so much space, and we need to take care of the neighborhoods we already have.”
Resident Anthony Baggett, who lives on Bobwhite Drive, said he felt the same way when he attended the first meeting. Although Audubon doesn’t have any specific problems now, Baggett said it lacks that sense of community he recalls in his youth.
“It’s not about problems so much, it’s just about a way to get everybody communicating,” he said. “A tighter neighborhood has a better chance to hold its value.”
The Audubon association isn’t yet formed but could be by the end of the year. The group will have its next meeting Nov. 12 to take it to the next level.
After that, Newell said he’ll set his sights on other Ward 3 neighborhoods in need of organization.
“This is all part of my master plan,” he said.
Contact Emily Le Coz at (662) 678-1588 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Emily Le Coz/NEMS Daily Journal