CATEGORY: Union County
HED:Twelve residents offer New Albany input on most-needed improvements
By LaRaye Brown
NEW ALBANY - New Albany Main Street officials are a few steps closer to revealing the plan leaders hope will carry the town into the next century.
Representatives of the Jackson-based Mississippi Downtown Development Association spent most of Tuesday doing 20-minute interviews with 12 members of the community to get their input on the direction New Albany should go.
"We wanted people that have lived here a long time and have a broad perspective," said Lee Norris, the manager of the New Albany program.
Experts on the MDDA panel included an architect and a city traffic analyst.
"We didn't just want an outside group to hand us the program for our city," Norris said. "We wanted a group to work with us in developing a plan."
Norris said people were chosen to represent several categories, from public officials to property owners.
Mayor Tom Cooper said his interview with the group was very positive and he was able to share some of the city's needs with the group.
"We need a secondary water supply," he said. " We feel like a lake is the perfect thing and the city and county are working hard to make it a reality."
Cooper said he also spoke with the group about the Mississippi Department of Transportation's plan to 5-lane the Tallahatchie River Bridge in the next five years.
"We feel that will help traffic," he said.
Cooper applauded the Main Street Program for encouraging downtown merchants to stay open until 7 p.m. on Thursdays and Fridays.
"People realize they are open and you see more traffic downtown," he said.
Betsy Hamilton of the Union County Historical society also talked with the committee.
"I've been pro-Main Street from the beginning," Hamilton said, referring to group's focus on maintaining a central business district. "When you cross the bridge and come into (downtown) you enter a time warp."
The executive director of the MDDA also said the meetings went very well.
"People were very candid with us," said Beverly Meng, executive director of MDDA.
Information obtained in Tuesday's interviews will be incorporated into Vision 2007, a plan designed to revitalize New Albany.
The plan will be presented to the community Thursday night at the New Albany Middle School at 6 p.m.