There are a number of positive projects going on in Ward 2 – particularly the upcoming Hattiesburg Public Safety Complex on James Street and Hall Avenue – that will provide what Ward 2 Councilwoman Deborah Delgado describes as “beautiful gateways into downtown.”
But other areas, such as sections of East Hardy Street and Mississippi 42, don’t exactly fit that bill in Delgado’s eyes. The councilwoman brought up the issue during last week’s work session of Hattiesburg City Council, where she discussed a few measures she’d like to put in place to help remedy that issue.
“When I look at Highway 42, which is a major route that people travel to get to downtown, it needs a little attention,” she said. “Even on the Main Street part going into downtown, we need to put some thought into what that looks like.
“Mobile Street, Bouie Street, going down East Hardy – East Hardy definitely needs attention. When you enter a city, you get an impression of what you’re going to find there, and that part of those gateways into downtown don’t have us looking so good – it looks like we have not put a lot of thought and energy into first impressions.”
Delgado said beautification measures could be put into place fairly easily – for instance, with the help of measures such as façade grants for businesses.
“I know for downtown businesses, we have historically given façade grants and that kind of thing,” she said. “Well, we could do something similar (in the areas of concern) to make it look welcoming, make it look like we are a progressive city.”
In addition to grants, Delgado also would like to look into the city’s operations on how rights-of-way are maintained throughout the city.
“I know some areas may be – and I’m not exactly sure about this – but some of them may be the responsibility of the highway department,” she said. “If so, let’s see if we can get with them, to see what we can do to improve our appearance.”
Delgado and other officials recently held a charette – a work session in which participants team up to develop or finalize plans for projects – for Edwards Street, which runs from the east end of Hall Avenue all the way to Mississippi 49 across from Elks Lake Road.
“We came up with a great plan, and we’re going to continue to do that,” Delgado said. “We’re planning on hosting a charette on East Hardy – I’ve been trying to get that together for a while, so hopefully we’ll get that one underway.
“And perhaps we can do something for those urban areas and develop a plan for how we’re going to improve those areas.”