The city of Petal continues to experience growth, especially along the Evelyn Gandy Parkway.
With constant changes and new businesses locating to the Friendly City, city leaders have decided to hire a firm to develop a 20-year comprehensive plan.
“Any city that’s growing needs a comprehensive plan,” Petal Mayor Hal Marx said. “Sometimes with growth especially if it happens quickly, you can be overcome by some of the problems that come with it, we want to make sure we stay ahead of that, that we have a good road map.”
Marx said the city hired an Oxford based firm, Mike Slaughter & Associates, for roughly $30,000 to workup the plan.
“We have contracted with Mike Slaughter and Associates in Oxford to come down and help us do a new compressive plan for the city, to help have a plan for the next 10 or 20 years, so as we grow we do it in a way that’s positive for the city,” Marx said.
Recent places along the Evelyn Gandy Parkway like Zaxby’s and McAlister’s are just a few of the newest store fronts along the roadway.
“We’ve seen a lot of that, people wanting to be in that area, and our challenge is to make sure when we do grow on the Gandy that we don’t see an abandonment of our older part of town where we have established businesses,” Marx said. “Some of that is inevitable and its nothing the city can really do to stop it from happening, when you have that traffic, a lot of businesses want to be there.”
With construction underway in multiple sections along the Gandy, Marx said he knows of a least one new business opening their doors soon.
“We just found out that there is another national store that’s coming in to Petal, it will be located along the Gandy in one of our new shopping centers that’s just been constructed,” Marx said.
Even with that, Marx said there will be a continued balance from the older business district to the new areas along the Gandy.
“I do think we can balance it out and find a niche for our downtown area that will be different from what the people on the Gandy are looking to get,” Marx said. “We’re very pleased that again, we see these national chains and these national names coming in, but we also want to make sure we have room for local business too. I think we have a good mix right now, we’ve got a good mix of local business and national brands that are coming in, and I see that trend continuing.”
The last plan the city had was back in 2005, and it was only a 5-year plan according to Marx.
“We’ve been struggling with different issues over the last few years that we thought was a priority, that needed to be done then, now we have room to breathe, we’ve gotten to the point financially where the city’s in good shape,” Marx said. “We have time to sit back and sort of catch our breath, look ahead and make a real good plan for the future. I hope this plan turns out to be something that future mayors and boards long after we’re gone can still use to help again, help our city grow in a way that’s going to be beneficial for everyone.”