Children’s museums should be all about fun.
Tuesday’s announcement that the Mississippi Children’s Museum-Meridian would locate at the site of a long-vacant former Sears store at 403 22nd Avenue made it just that.
We enthusiastically applaud museum planners for their decision to build on the former Sears site for a number of reasons.
While always a fan of a children’s museum for Meridian, we were apprehensive about the previous preferred site at Bonita Lakes Park.
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Do you think locating the Mississippi Children’s Museum-Meridian on 22nd Avenue is a good idea?
Planners assured the community that a children’s museum at Bonita Lakes Park would have a separate entrance and be buffered by trees, but that location seemed a little too close for comfort to walkers, runners, cyclists, anglers, horseback riders and picnickers.
Bonita Lakes Park is a jewel, and now that one will be preserved and a new community jewel will be added.
A Mississippi Children’s Museum-Meridian on 22nd Avenue can be the first step in improving that important corridor into downtown Meridian.
The completion of the downtown paving project last summer, previous work at the Mississippi State University Riley campus, the opening of the Mississippi Arts & Entertainment Experience in April 2018 and the promised development of the Threefoot Building into a Marriott, all contribute to the revitalization of Meridian.
But as Meridian City Council President George Thomas told The Star’s editorial board last week, “We have to get the visitors over the bridge.”
Currently, drivers exiting the interstate on 22nd Avenue are greeted by a string of vacant buildings, including the Village Fair Mall, Sears store and other commercial buildings.
Thomas listed other ideas such as planting flowers at the interchange and turning 22nd Avenue into a boulevard. We encourage more discussion and movement on getting “the visitors over the bridge.”
Meanwhile, we hope the Mississippi Children’s Museum-Meridian inspires more than children and their parents. We encourage others to catch the enthusiasm bug and work toward developing and beautifying that gateway into downtown.
Thanks to the parent Mississippi Children’s Museum in Jackson in guiding this project toward 22nd Avenue and groundbreaking in 2020.
Thanks, too, to the Riley Foundation for its gift of $4 million and the Phil Hardin Foundation and its gift of $3 million toward the Mississippi Children’s Museum-Meridian.
Most of all, we commend three community volunteers, Elizabeth "Liz" Wilson, Kimberly Denison and Kim Bowers, for envisioning the Meridian children's museum and setting it on a path to reality.
They demonstrate community leadership doesn’t have to have to come from City Hall, the Lauderdale County Annex or the usual movers and shakers.
There will continue to be naysayers, but we all should share in the fun of revitalizing this city.