Set up a round and raise a toast to John Purdy.
The Meridian architect pitched an idea to the Meridian City Council on Tuesday that at first blush we think offers a number of positives for the city.
Purdy would like to purchase the old Meridian Police Station on Sixth Street for around $45,000 and convert it to a tap room for another of his ventures, the Threefoot Brewery. Elsewhere in the building he plans to carve out space for other businesses “that would work with the area and work hand-in-hand” with the tap room.”
Here’s what we like about his idea:
• The sale gives $45,000 to the city for a public building that has sat vacant since 2013.
• The sale restores an unused city property to the tax rolls.
• Purdy creates a new downtown business and additional space for businesses that will provide new tax revenue to the city.
• These businesses create incentive for more people to visit downtown, spend more money and create more tax revenue.
• Ideas such as these stir the imagination of other entrepreneurs to bring their ideas to the city.
Quizzically, city council members greeted his idea as if they had just had a Threefoot Local Brown ale thrown in their faces.
To his credit, Mayor Percy Bland took responsibility for not giving council enough time to review the proposal. We understand council members’ concern as they are responsible for watching city finances. They should be be fully briefed to make informed decisions.
We hope that when Purdy’s plan is reviewed on another day the fine print measures up and the city will be on its way to welcoming new businesses downtown.
For the cherry on top, we toast Meridian Museum of Art Direct Kate Cherry, who also brought a vision to the council on Tuesday that, also, was put on hold.
Cherry would like to turn 3,000-square feet of city-owned land near the museum into a city park, with four garden sections, a sculpture and a water feature or “river wall” at its back.
The cost to the city would be $12,000 for design work and city labor.
We like this idea, too. It would add beauty to city space and give another reason for visitors to linger downtown.
Both of these visions come within two months of when the Mississippi Arts + Entertainment Experience opens.
If The Max is to fulfill its promise, we’ll need more people to follow the lead of Purdy and Cherry.
Previous city councils saw no purpose in the old police station. Tearing it down and turning it into a parking lot was suggested in 2013 and again in 2016.
With apologies to Joni Mitchell’s “Big Yellow Taxi …”
“Don’t it always seem to go
That you don't know what you've got
'Till it's gone
They paved paradise
And put up a parking lot.”
The city should welcome promising new visions, not discourage them.