OUR VIEW: Crowns and Frowns

Courtesy Neel-Schaffer, Inc.

Under a conceptual plan for a project to enhance a section of 22nd Avenue in Meridian, northbound traffic heading toward Front Street would remain on two lanes, but southbound traffic leaving downtown would be reduced to one lane. The conceptual plan would also include sidewalks and landscaping.

A CROWN FOR PROGRESS made on Meridian’s 22nd Avenue project.

Many of our readers would seem to prefer a frown instead after learning of Neel-Schaffer, Inc.’s conceptual plan for the 22nd Avenue stretch, also known as Sela Ward Parkway, between the interstate and downtown.

News this week that the plan called for only one southbound lane and a mix of turning lanes and landscaping down the middle was greeted as if the proposal called for a return to a manure-laden dirt path into the city.

An unscientific readers poll by The Meridian Star resulted in 72 percent opposed to the single-southbound-lane idea, 20 percent favoring and 8 percent not sure. Comments to our Facebook page were highly critical.

We give a crown, though, because a proposal is on the table and that gives the community something to talk about and places us closer to improving a gateway that almost everyone agrees is a tired, ugly approach to our city.

We are open to an idea of trees and flowers creating the “wow” factor city leaders desire to greet visitors – and potential residents – to Meridian. You must have had that experience, too, when entering an impressive city. We want to improve Meridian’s look and spread the word that it is a good community to visit and call home.

We’re ready to listen to the engineers as they explain their vision for the city.

That said, engineers and city leaders need to listen to citizens’ concerns about potential traffic bottlenecks when exiting the city at the end of a work day or after a busy event, such as Thursday’s Candy Crawl or a concert night at the MSU Riley Center.

If you have thoughts on the topic, attend a council meeting and share them. Continue a constructive conversation, but city leaders, please hurry up on improving our gateway.

A CROWN FOR REAL ESTATE broker Van Lewis’ idea for pitching the old Meridian police station on Sixth Street as a potential site for an assisted living center.

Is that the best use of the building? Maybe it’s not. We liked the idea of a microbrewery as a better fit.

But that deal is gone and Lewis has an idea that would bring people downtown, which could spur the need for other businesses such as cafe´s or gift shops, and, better, would get the property back on the tax rolls.

His idea, too, was greeted by naysayers. We say, if someone has a better idea and the money to act on it, then please come forward.

A CROWN TO THE PHIL HARDIN FOUNDATION for its grant of $266,244 to the Lauderdale County School District to use for the purchase of digital screens, Apple TVs and iPads.

This area is blessed to have organizations such as the Phil Hardin Foundation, the Riley Foundation, the Community Foundation of East Mississippi and many other philanthropic groups like them to support our schools and supplement taxpayer money.

A CROWN TO THE FRIENDS OF BONITA LAKES who spent last Sunday cleaning up litter from the park’s trails and lakes as outdoors writer Brad Dye reported.

The group filled many bags of bottles, cans, fast-food containers and assorted trash gathered from one of this area’s finest jewels.

A frown for the slobs who continue to make it necessary for volunteer groups such as the Friends of Bonita Lakes to clean up after them.

A CROWN FOR NEWTON COUNTY RESIDENT Vonzia J. Rigsby, who was awarded a Congressional Gold Medal by the Montford Point Marine Association on Tuesday at Naval Air Station Meridian.

Rigsby, 98, was among the first African Americans to serve in the Marine Corps during World War II.

Congratulations and thank you, Cpl. Rigsby.

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