Meridian Star

October 13, 2013

Sunday, October 13, 2013

The Meridian Star

MERIDIAN — Another $3 million?

    I have only followed the debate over the county's desire to issue bonds to build several athletic facilities until I stopped by the city's school bus maintenance facility and saw the Harris Elementary school gym.

    It is a large facility located in the transportation building below the school. It currently is set up for one full court or two half-court basketball games. This is a nice gym less than a mile from where they want to build a $3 million gym in Highland Park. We already are paying upkeep, insurance, utilities and security for the Harris site and I expect it is currently not used after school, nights, weekends or over the summer.

    If after school programs are part of the answer to youth crime, why are we not using assets we already own instead of burdening the taxpayer with a new building? A program could be up and running in days not months or longer. Any number of students could stay on their bus and end up at the gym as the bus' last stop.

    I also understand that there are two gyms in the now closed Kate Griffin location that could support programs in that part of town. The school was an asset when it closed but I understand that it is becoming a liability due to neglect and vandalism. Using the gyms would at least make some use out of facilities we already own.

    I am afraid the answer will be all the reasons why it cannot be done and not let’s make it happen. The other $3 million I referred to was the high school's field house, which with the exception of one small classroom, sits empty the majority of the time.

John Martin, Meridian