About 70 people heard city planning specialist Bob Barber speak Thursday evening, August 30, at the Union County Heritage Museum in New Albany.
Barber, who was formerly planning director for Hernando, Miss., now heads Orion Planning & Design, based in Hernando. His was one of four organizations, which responded to a call early this year for a “Request for Qualifications, (RFQ),” which had been authorized in December, 2017, by the New Albany Board of Aldermen. The RFQ’s received were reviewed under the direction of Billye Jean Stroud, community planning director for the City of New Albany. Barber’s was one of the two submissions chosen to make formal city planning presentations.
The other applicant selected was Phillip L. Walker of Nashville, TN. Several months before the New Albany city board authorized the RFQ submissions, Walker did appear at a private meeting in New Albany at the Magnolia Civic Center on August 14, 2018. It is not known whether Walker will be invited back to New Albany for a public meeting.
The meeting with Bob Barber at the museum last Thursday evening was publicized in advance and was open to the public.
Billye Jean Stroud introduced Barber to the group. Barber said his organization is associated with several other similar ones around the country. He mentioned the Stennis Institute at Mississippi State University as one of those. Another was Johnstone & Associates of Tupelo, whose principal associate, Shelly Johnstone, was present at last week’s meeting.
Barber said developing a strategic plan for New Albany would involve learning facts about local needs and, in association with New Albany community leaders, developing a “coherent and specific” plan for the development of the city.
Barber observed that the unique assets of New Albany include the BNA Sportsplex, the Tanglefoot Trail, and the fact that the Tallahatchie River flows through the middle of the city.
He said the city’s building and zoning code is a “1980s model” and that helping create an up-to-date code would be a major part of the updated strategic plan he believes the city needs.
Barber said it would cost $80-thousand to $120-thousand to do a good strategic plan for New Albany. But, he asked rhetorically, “What’s it costing not having a plan?”
New Albany Mayor Tim Kent was present at the meeting where Barber spoke, as were at least three members of the New Albany Board of Aldermen.
The New Albany Board of Aldermen is scheduled to have its regular September meeting at 5:30 pm today at city hall. It is not known whether city planning will be discussed at that meeting.
City planning discussed at earlier meetings of New Albany Board of Aldermen
City planner Walker from Nashville addresses private meeting in New Albany