Thursday, December 22, 2011
City’s 20-year plan nears completion
By SUE WATSON
A third focus group meeting was held recently to garner reactions to the proposed comprehensive plan for the city of Holly Springs.
This plan is the first to use citizen input groups to make recommendations for how the city will grow and what it will look like in 20 or 30 years.
City planner Bob Barber conducted the focus groups and said he expects to have a rough draft of the plan ready for city leaders to scrutinize by February 2012. Before the plan is adopted, it will be rolled out to the citizens at a public meeting, he said.
He prepared the previous comprehensive plan the city has used since the early 1990s.
“Chance favors a prepared mind,” said Barber, quoting from scientific great Louis Pasteur.
He said those cities that plan are more likely to reach their potential.
“I never fail to come to Holly Springs that I do not see potential literally sitting on every corner,” he said.
The third focus group discussed goals and objectives – the backbone of the plan that will be presented to the city for action.
Citing a urban land use study, Barber said “Holly Springs can no longer rely on growth pressure from Memphis or booming economic times.”
The economy is in a slump and the city’s educational and medical facilities are the major assets and form the basis for forward movement, Barber said. He said public/private partnerships will help in these changing times when cell phones change the way people live.
There is a shrinking need for space in the workplace as business increasingly relies on technology that does the work of people. He said the new generation sleeps with the cell phone in bed. House sizes are becoming smaller, developments are becoming more compact, and the public will be walking or biking to school and work in the not too distant future.
The zoning department and planning commission will be charged with creating the ordinances and regulations that will implement the plan, he said. Policies and initiatives will also help drive the plan.
Nine strategic projects, which Barber called “signature” ones, are in the plan that will be on the table for implementation in the first 10 years. Those include:
• West Side redevelopment which includes Rust College and the MI College campus and the old Walmart shopping center. The old Rankin Circle apartment complex redevelopment was just completed, placing 100 apartment units back in business. The complex has a new name – Spring Gardens Apartments. Work on West Side may begin as early as 2013.
• a Power House Building redevelopment.
• Mississippi Industrial College redevelopment.
• the railroad depot redevelopment area.
• redevelopment of old Walmart with a private shopping mall.
• development of the three gateways to the city – near Rust College to the north, the Holly Springs Commons to the south, and East Van Dorn near the railroad overpass.
• expansion of park land with grant funding.
• redevelop East College Avenue to the depot and old compress.
In transportation, sidewalk repair and replacements, installation of pedestrian and bike trails and street repairs will move the city forward. The city could lay or replace about 400 feet of sidewalk a year and ultimately have the sidewalks it deserves.
Housing is out of balance and should be balanced with about 15-20 percent rental units or apartments. Currently the city is estimated to be about 30 percent or more rental. There should be a balance of multi-family and single family housing.
Economic development should support the Main Street program and the chamber of commerce. Initiatives to help kick-start economic development can be supported by the Mississippi Development Authority and the Stennis Institute. The state’s creative arts strategy can help with developing the arts in the community.
The Chalmers Institute and Preserve Holly Springs/Marshall County will have a role in rebuilding the city as a cultural center.
Barber said arts and culture have a “very big potential” in the city.
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