With input from neighborhood associations, the One Percent Sales Tax Commission plans to tackle residential street improvements in Jackson.
“The big elephant in the room is, ‘How do you determine which streets in the neighborhood need the most work? “” said Pete Perry, a member of the commission who agreed at its February meeting that residential streets should be its next priority.
The commission oversaw about 200 miles of road improvements to the city’s 2,200 miles of streets, Perry said. A one mile long street with two lanes counts as two lane miles.
Most of the road improvements have been on major thoroughfares such as North State Street, although the commission initially funded work on some scattered residential streets here and there.
The commission plans to work with JXNUNITED, which includes representatives of homeowners associations and business leaders.
The plan is for the city of Jackson to send out a questionnaire to neighborhood associations and ask their leaders to name the streets they would like to improve and why.
“A neighborhood association could name a street. They could name 20,” Perry said.
If an area doesn’t have a neighborhood association, it wouldn’t be left out because the commission would go and survey those streets, Perry said.
A timeline has not been set for when the city will send out a questionnaire, but Perry said he plans to follow up on it.
There is no guarantee that the list of streets a group submits will be improved, he said, as factors such as whether a street needs additional infrastructure repairs would come into play. .
The commission talked about hiring a consultant, but decided that commission members could form a small committee and select residential streets for improvement, Perry said.
Dana F. Robertson, executive director of the Greater Eastover Neighborhood Foundation, says the commission’s plan to prioritize repairs according to specific criteria seems fair.
“A degree of subjectivity will come into play, but given that the commissioners are appointed by the mayor, the governor and the chamber of commerce, I think they bring different skills and perspectives to the decision-making process, which which makes it a just as possible,” she said.
Sally Birdsall, executive director of the Massena Heights Homeowners Association, is grateful the commission is willing to focus on streets in the crumbling neighborhood of Jackson.
“Pete Perry first offered this engagement to JXNUNITED in May 2018,” she said. “I appreciate his tenacity and his desire to help.”
Every street in Massena Heights could benefit from resurfacing, she said.
“In many areas the asphalt is in an advanced state of deterioration, leaving the subgrade, the dirt under the pavement, exposed,” Birdsall said. “Rainwater and car traffic aggravate erosion.”
Parts of Crestwood Drive, Culleywood Road and Massena Drive are in disrepair, Birdsall said. “I don’t believe the whole street should be paved in every case, but certainly extended sections,” she said.
Dana F. Robertson, executive director of the Greater Eastover Neighborhood Foundation, regularly contacts the City of Jackson and Hinds County about potholes and other infrastructure issues. Being able to contact the commission would provide another way to get roadside repairs, she said.
Several streets in Eastover need work, Robertson said.
“Dogwood Drive needs resurfacing, and there are areas where it has eroded as well,” she said. “There is a section of Lake Circle near Dogwood Drive that needs to be redone. There is a part of Sandridge Drive that needs repairing and resurfacing due to tree roots that have caused large ridges in the asphalt. Additionally, Meadowbrook Road is to be redone from Ridgewood Road to the gates of Meadowbrook Lakes, which includes the portion of Meadowbrook that runs through Eastover as well as several other neighborhoods.
Several streets in Ridgewood Park are in dire need of resurfacing, said Ken Wilson, president of the Ridgewood Park Neighborhood Association.
Wilson said he looked forward to information from the city on how the association should submit its list of streets in need of work.
He believes the resulting work will pay off not just with smoother streets, but with citizens expanding their knowledge of how funds are spent and more.
“Resurfacing in our neighborhood would help beautify and spark ideas for development,” Wilson said.
Liz Brister, president of the Fondren Renaissance Foundation, agrees with Wilson that improving city streets can make a difference.
“Resurfacing our city’s streets improves quality of life and increases property values when combined with sidewalks, bike lanes and other traffic calming measures,” she said. .
Jackson Association of Neighborhoods board member Andy Frame plans to make sure neighborhoods across the city know about the commission’s plans.
“It’s going to be in our next newsletter,” he said. “This is exactly the kind of news we think the Jackson Association of Neighborhoods can help with. Whenever public resources are available for neighborhoods, we want to get that news out there.
Frame, who is the executive director of Revitalize Mississippi, an organization that focuses on cleanup and other improvements in low-income neighborhoods in Jackson, said his work takes him all over the city, including neighborhoods which have craters in the road that make it almost impossible to get around them.
“When one of these streets is repaired, it changes the environment,” he said. “It makes you feel good. It’s great that they are going to do work in the neighborhoods and that they have repaired the main roads. It’s a great plan.
Frame, who hopes the commission will receive input from organizations across the city, acknowledges that the commission’s resources are limited. “There will be no shortage of streets to fix,” he said.
It’s good for residents and neighborhood leaders to rate the streets in their neighborhood and have that information at their fingertips, Frame said.
“The Jackson Association of Neighborhoods wants this stuff to happen more regularly,” he said. “It’s the carrot or an incentive for people to do it. Hopefully this will result in great participation and new communication between neighborhood leaders and residents.”
Charles Williams, Municipal Engineer for the City of Jackson, said feedback from the community and members of city council, who interact daily with residents in their neighborhoods, will be invaluable in determining which residential streets need work.
The city collects about $1.1–1.2 million per month from 1% sales tax. This does not include sales tax related to hotels, bars or restaurants in the city.
Many years ago, the city already dedicated 12 property tax mills to street improvements, Perry said, noting that dwindling tax mills meant the city’s funding for maintenance had gone down.