PINE BLUFF, Ark. (KTHV) -- A new group has big plans for Pine Bluff.
They want to see the city become a place for tourism and fun for residents again. For the last three years, a building had crumbled onto Downtown Main Street in Pine Bluff. Now, it's gone and the city and community investors have nowhere to go but forward.
"Go forward Pine Bluff is an initiative set forth by the Simmons Foundation to be able to provide the City the resources that it needs to be able to provide more than the basic services,” explained Ryan Watley, CEO of Go Forward Pine Bluff.
Go Forward Pine Bluff is an initiative to increase population, attract businesses, generate revenue, and end blight. The lengthy wish list brings a big bill. That's where they need the public's help.
"The initiative of Go Forward is asking the public to commit to $32 million through a 5/8 cent sales tax that will sunset after seven years,” Watley said, adding businesses have committed $6 million, but they need another $1 million from them.
They're also going to apply for $13 million in donations and grants. From tax payers, they're asking for $15.67 per household.
"This is not just a waste of their tax dollars. This is the best opportunity we have with the commitment from the businesses, and with our new Mayor, who is very proactive. to be able to get some things done,” Watley said.
Things started getting done this week. A dilapidated building, that was crumbling on to Main Street was demolished.
"We are trying to improve the quality of life; the place where our citizens will have something to do,” added Larry Matthews, City of Pine Bluff Director of Economic and Community Development.
Those three years that Main Street was closed was bad for businesses, many of which had to board up and move on. That hasn't increased the appeal of Downtown Pine Bluff. But Watley and many others are convinced with a few investments their luck will soon turn around.
"We are recreating main Street from building front to building front. All of the sidewalks will be redone. The Street lighting will be redone. Everything up and down Main Street,” Director Matthews explained of the “Streetscape Project”.
“Streetscape Project” is a fresh idea from the city that they’re hoping to get paid for and started by the first of the year.
The Go Forward Pine Bluff initiative tax vote will take place on June 13. For more on that vote visit goforwardpinebluff.com.