JONESBORO, AR (KAIT) - The city of Jonesboro will be looking to its citizens and business owners in the coming weeks for input on developing the "railroad corridor."
"We really want to see this grow. We want to see economic development," Jonesboro Grants Administrator Kimberly Marshall said.
On March 17, the city will hold a public meeting to obtain input on developing the "railroad corridor" from Aggie Road at Arkansas State University all the way down to Riceland Foods.
Input they receive will help the city apply for a "brownfield" grant with the Environmental Protection Agency.
According to the EPA website, the grant gives communities the resources they need to prevent, assess, clean up and reuse brownfields.
"Cleaning up and reinvesting in these properties protects the environment, reduces blight, and takes development pressures off greenspaces and working lands," the EPA states.
For some who have had their business along for Johnson Avenue for decades, they're excited to see attention turn their way.
"We're lacking on a lot of things," Troy Hafford said.
Hafford is a barber with his dad at Bill & Troy's Barber Shop.
They've been at the location for 46 years.
"I remember when Jonesboro was an innocent little town and there were a lot of businesses up and down Johnson," Troy Hafford said. "Unfortunately, it went downhill."
To start, Hafford said he'd like to see more lighting in the area to improve safety.
He'd also like to see businesses like restaurants and banks locate to Johnson Avenue.
"I'm really pleased that they're starting to pay attention because we desperately need that," Hafford said. "In the day time it's one thing but at night it's totally different. Going from ASU to Main Street? Yes. That'd be great not only for children or the ASU students but for everybody."
Marshall said the concerns business owners like Hafford and citizens bring to the table will help them in being considered for the brownfield grant.
"We're hoping the citizens can guide us and direct us into the area they want the city to go," Marshall said.
Marshall said the public meeting will help initiate a plan.
"We have a lot of blight and slum areas around the railroad," Marshall said. "We're hoping that it will bring in more businesses and attract other tourist attractions and maybe some more restaurants."
The meeting on March 17 starts at 5:30 in the first floor lobby of the Municipal Building, 300 South Church Street.
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