Twin Forks Rising Master Plan
In early 2013, the City of Hattiesburg made an important decision; it authorized the development of a future land use plan for Twin Forks Rising (TFR). This plan will provide the foundation for community-founded and meaningful improvements in Ward 2.
The plan is a result of a nine-month collaboration with community leaders, elected and appointed officials, and citizens of TFR. The planning team led a series of meetings of the working group, a committtee of citizens who provided invaluable context, content and input as only the residents of TFR can. The working group developed this plan.
In addition to the working group, two townhall meetings were held, during which the general public was invited to listen, participate, and assist in the development of the plan. More than 300 people participated in the town hall meetings.
After listening to the aspirations and desires of residents and coming to grips with the challenges that face TFR, the planning team developed a series of future land use options. A consensus was achieved and the preferred plan was agreed to by both the working group and the general public.
The preferred plan is purposefully ambitious, creating a series of water features to address both the real and the perceived threat of flooding in TFR. These features, based on the Dutch philosophy of embracing flood waters, incorporate two important redevelopment catalysts: 1) to serve as a basis of flood zone revisions and 2) to provide redevelopment opportunities based on a public amenity.
Another important element of the plan is that it provides options for improved and enhanced transportation and livability on an east and west basis in TFR. Chain Park is a great asset for TFR but getting to it, except by car, is not easy or safe. The plan calls for the City to continue to implement the Complete Streets Policy on east-west arteries so that residents will have appropriate access to Chain Park, potentially one of TFR’s greatest amenities.
Yet another important element of the plan is to embrace William Carey University (WCU), located in the southern portion of TFR. WCU is a growing institution and one that can act as a serious investor and economic engine. The plan calls for educational enterprise zones around the university to encourage organic growth in TFR and expansion of WCU. The TFR plan calls also for the redevelopment of the quality of life within TFR. A key feature of the plan is the creation of a community development corporation (CDC) to guide future growth and finance its vision. The CDC invests in the community first, and then reinvests dollars earned on subsequent projects in the district. This reinvestment provides continuous return, creating a loop of prosperity.
Lastly and perhaps most importantly, the plan calls for the development of human capital. People must be the ultimate foundation, because their actions to invest, move, live, and work will make or break the future of TFR. They must have the skills and opportunities for meaningful jobs as redevelopment and new investment occurs. The CDC, through both financial incentives and lending decisions, can help provide the needed opportunities.
The people of Twin Forks Rising can be proud of its past. The challenge is to make the most of TFR’s assets and to implement this ambitious plan for its future. TFR will realize its potential as a great community through the persistence and the efforts of its people.