MARSHALL — The global COVID-19 pandemic has slowed progress on the Mobilize Marshall plan, but not stopped it, city commissioners were told Thursday.
The Marshall City Commission held its meeting virtually because of the pandemic, and commissioners accepted the resignation of the City Finance Director Elaine Altman after a closed session to discuss the matter.
City Manager Mark Rohr presented an update on the Mobilize Marshall plan, which was developed in June 2019.
Rohr said work has continued, despite COVID-19 concerns, on such areas as economic development and neighborhood redevelopment.
He said promotional brochures have been created that the city has focused on distributing to businesses that have shown interest in opening a location in Marshall.
“This is something we are doing while still remaining aware of the current situation,” Rohr said.
Rohr said the city has created funding for and organized an economic development department directed by Wes Morrison.
He said the city also continues to team with MEDCO and has created the Cradle of Entrepreneurship program.
The city also successfully established the small business loan program, which offers about $170,000 in funds for small businesses locally and also is seeking more grants, Rohr said.
Morrison gave an update on the Neighborhood Redevelopment Program, which is working with its first neighborhood — Newtown — to create an improvement plan.
He said the city is also focusing on an anti-littering campaign that was put on hold after gatherings were banned because of COVID-19.
But Rohr said the Marshall Police Department has been enforcing code violations for littering, which he said also will help change the culture of the city and preventing littering in the future.
Rohr also gave an update on the status of the city’s Downtown Redevelopment Plan, which was met with mixed reviews by the community after its initial presentation in November.
Rohr said the project is broken down into four areas: streetscaping, development of a trail system, Lady Bird Garden, turning the parking lot on the east side of the courthouse into a gathering spot.
He said that as early as the next commissioners meeting July 23, commissioners will be presented with funding requests for the streetscaping project.
The installation of a trail system also is being planned, Rohr said, along with improvements to Airport Park.
Public works director Eric Powell said that the trail system would include a trail from City Park to Pope Street, which was an old existing railbed, along with the Johnson Street sidewalk project, which will go down Johnson Street to City Hall.
Rohr added that the city hoped eventually to add more trails to connect to the downtown area and create a hub of activity in that area.
The Lady Bird Garden and parking lot gathering spot projects have been placed on hold, he said.
Rohr said the city also has outlines for a cultural arts district it plans to establish as the downtown plan develops.