West Jackson is focus of proposed neighborhood revitalization

By Michaela Gibson Morris/NEMS Daily Journal

The Tupelo City Council voted tonight to amend its 2013 budgets to tackle a revitalization effort for the West Jackson Street neighborhood and expand its repaving program.
“In so many ways, it’s the right thing to do and the right time to do it before it gets any worse,” said Tupelo Mayor Jack Reed Jr. of the neighborhood revitalization project.
Ward 3 councilman Jim Newell cast the lone dissenting vote on the budget amendment authorizing the revitalization project and the expanding paving program, citing his concerns use of nearly $2.4 million the city’s reserve funds.
City chief financial officer Lynn Norris has more than sufficient reserves even with the use of the reserve funds.

In its final action of the evening, the council approved the purchase of the Deshong Apartments with the intention of demolishing them as its first action of the West Jackson Street revitalization. The apartments have been the source of a repeated complaints to police and code violations.

Read more in Wednesday’s Daily Journal

TUPELO — West Jackson Street will be the focus of a proposed neighborhood revitalization pilot project.
The project was publicly identified before the Tupelo City Council today during a morning agenda review. It had been discussed in broad terms without naming the area earlier this month.
“For the first time, we’re putting financial muscle into revitalization efforts,” Mayor Jack Reed Jr. told the council.
At its 6 p.m. meeting tonight at City Hall, the council is set to consider authorizing the plan and setting a $2.36 million budget that includes the use of $1.39 million from the unrestricted reserve funds.
The council would still have to approve the purchase of any properties as they occur. The council is set to discuss the first purchase in executive session tonight.
If the project is approved, the city would use the funds to purchase properties, demolish unsalvageable buildings, improve the utilities and infrastructure and create design standards to guide new construction and renovations.
Reed is proposing pairing the money from the unrestricted reserve funds with $500,000 from the Tupelo Water and Light reserves and a portion of the money the council has already allocated for demolition of blighted properties over three years.
Also tonight, the council is set to vote on Reed’s other suggested initiative for the final six months of the term: Broadening the city’s annual street overlay program. Reed proposes using $969,000 from unrestricted reserves to cover all streets recommended for overlay in 2013, including two streets — Frog Meadow and Prairie View — that are in the annexed area.
If both projects are approved, the city will have $16 million remaining in unrestricted reserves.