EDITORIAL: Tupelo grant

The awarding of a $10,000 grant from the National Trust for Historic Preservation to the Downtown Tupelo Main Street Association for a “placemaking” program to enhance quality of life in the city’s center intensifies the larger process of redesigning Main Street from Green Street to the Elvis Presley Birthplace and Museum in east Tupelo.
Tupelo won the grant over other applicants nationwide, and the award includes a placemaking workshop led by staff members of the National Trust and the Project for Public Places.
The award came to Tupelo because of the aggressive and thorough work of DTMSA executive Director Debbie Brangenberg and her staff.
Consideration of “placemaking” ideas will unfold the week of Oct. 4 when the National Trust and Project for Public Spaces staff travel to Tupelo for sessions with representative stakeholders – perhaps as many as 75 to 100 people – plus sessions with planners, City Council members, and board members of the DTMSA. Those sessions will focus on segments of Main Street from Green Street to the Presley birthplace complex.
The downtown association, the Tupelo City Council and the Community Development Foundation are engaged in a parallel process of determining how Main Street traffic flow can be enhanced to ensure downtown’s strengths and attractiveness, including a stronger link to the Presley birthplace and museum, which itself is about to start a major expansion and upgrade.
Nothing is definite about Main Street choices and specifics, but possibilities under study include transportation, pedestrian traffic and appearance:
n Consideration of a three-lane stretch of Main Street from Green Street to U.S. Highway 45, with bicycle lanes and a turn lane, requires exceptional thoroughness because it is potentially controversial. It would require City Council approval in its final design. A trial run of the three-lane configuration is planned in coming months. We believe, with Brangenberg and Mayor Jack Reed, Jr., that carefully measuring and quantifying traffic flow, traffic speed, synchronized signals and motorists’ responses should more fully inform any decision.
n Consideration of enhancements to clearly make Main Street at U.S. 45 the city’s gateway could grow tourism for the Presley attraction.
The Mississippi Department of Transportation has indicated its willingness to participate in enhancing that stretch of Main Street, but no funding has been secured for the project, and the City Council’s pledge of a 20 percent match is contingent on its final approval by formal vote.
We encourage DTMSA and City Hall to open its e-mail addresses and Websites to pubic comment as the process unfolds, because in the final analysis everybody is a stakeholder.

NEMS Daily Journal