David A. Knopick of GouldEvans of Kansas City Missouri finished up the first community meeting held at Temple Beth El heritage hall to discuss ways of revitalizing Helena-West Helena and Phillips County. The next meeting will be held this evening at the heritage hall. (Betty Adams Photo)
Some of the topics brought up during Monday night’s community meeting held at Temple Beth El Heritage Hall included some of the community’s strengths, which included the people here who are caring and warm toward others.
Also another strong point or another community strength is its history and the Mississippi River, which provides one of the most economical means of transporting cargo up and down the River.
Some of weaknesses, which were pointed out included: the lack of job opportunities, the lack of education and the availability of it for our youth, unfortunately for a community of this size we have an unusually large amount of crime going on. Also the condition of the buildings in the downtown sector was brought up; we need more communication as to how the community got to this point. Also a weakness is the drug usage among so many in the community. Young people are not involved in the community’s revitalization. We also have a huge homeless population and there is opportunity for improving this situation. More home ownership and a more solid housing stock are needed.
The downtown area could be revitalized where one project could play off another in order to be successful. Also the town’s rich musical heritage was brought up such as the blues, gospel, and the King Biscuit hour, and also the county and town’s agricultural heritage was discussed. Bridge lighting could also help in lighting up the Helena bridge area.
The entry corridors into town could be dressed up and trees could be planted along with a general redress of the areas, overlooks to the river and scenic stops could be added. Maintenance of the community’s front door could be an ongoing project. Also a suggestion was made on a walkway from the riverboat into the downtown with a connection of places.
The meetings will focus on developing strategies for revitalizing historic downtown Helena-West Helena.
Consultants will attend the meetings to help the community verify and validate issues and goals for historic Helena; generate alternative design and development scenarios that reflect potential opportunities and constraints.
The next meeting will be tonight from 5 to 8 p.m. at Temple Beth El Heritage hall at 406 Perry Street.
The Delta Bridge Project’s Tourism, Recreation and Quality of life goal Team was successful in obtaining funding for one of the goals within the Phillips County Strategic Plan. The goal is to “develop a comprehensive and achievable master plan for historic Helena and the riverfront area.”