EDITORIAL: Neighbor strength

This week’s observance of the National Night Out for members of neighborhood groups across the country provided a platform for praise by Mayor Jack Reed Jr. and the City Council of Tupelo’s 14 neighborhood associations and their effective work for protection, public safety and quality of life issues.
The rise of active, well-organized neighborhood associations in Tupelo has been a hallmark of civic improvement since the administration of former Mayor Glenn McCullough.
All Tupelo neighborhoods aren’t organized, and some are not fully defined, but Reed has said that strengthening and expanding the citizen-run group is one of his priorities.
The 14 associations in Tupelo represent the interests of some of the best-established and most populous neighborhoods.
Some are historic, some are wealthy, some are not. All are distinctive. All share some common concerns.
Associations’ concerns run the gamut from crime to playgrounds, historic designations to traffic patterns and control. All want and expect their voices to be heard at the departmental, council and mayoral level.
Their requests, by and large, are reasonable, needing only intentionality and good planning at the appropriate level to reach resolution.
Ward 3 Councilman Jim Newell has proposed increasing Tupelo’s financial commitment to neighborhood association development and backing for the 2010 budget year, beginning Oct. 1.
We believe that request should be given open-minded consideration.
Associations may not internally agree unanimously about priorities, but a representative voice provides a valuable measure of attitudes and goals.
The political concerns flowing from neighborhood associations about quality of life issues are widely believed to have been a factor in some races in the 2009 city elections.
We hope the network of associations can be expanded to areas in north and western Tupelo not formally organized.
If the city succeeds in its annexation plans, additional or expanded associations will be required.
Advance plans to quickly organize residents in unincorporated areas into associations could pull them into interactive work and goals, smoothing the transition into the community’s life.
Some of the more visible work of neighborhood associations includes holiday celebrations, block parties, and pole banners.
The more important work is usually unseen: policy and priority decisions, neighborhood watches, and cooperation for general quality of life.

NEMS Daily Journal