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Residents have special interest

By Staff
July 22, 2001
Meridian residents have a special interest in two upcoming hearings involving the city's plan to build a $7 million parking garage downtown. The project is part of an urban renewal package that also involves $10 million from the Riley Foundation and is associated with other downtown revitalization projects.
Is a big parking garage a good thing or a bad thing for downtown Meridian?
If and when the Grand Opera House of Mississippi becomes a reality, if and when other downtown renewal projects get off the drawing boards, if and when people are actually living downtown and coming to event there, a parking garage may be needed to accommodate them.
Unfortunately, Meridian's history with parking garages is less than sterling. Three of them were built decades ago with money from another well-intentioned federal program. They, too, were to accommodate all of the downtown shoppers and visitors and workers. They were miserable failures and withered into rusting hulks before businessman Gil Carmichael years later found another use for them.
Hopefully, the concept and design being considered now will be more user-friendly.
It is likely that the parking garage will sponge up virtually all of Meridian's urban renewal money, and that's why residents should attend one or both of these hearings:
July 24: Meridian Planning Commission is expected to take up the issue. The commission meets at 5:30 p.m. in the Municipal Courtroom;
Aug. 7: Evidently expecting a favorable vote of the planning commission, the city council has scheduled a hearing on the parking garage beginning at 9 a.m. in the Municipal Courtroom.
This is a classic opportunity for concerned citizens to express their opinions to the only two local government bodies with the authority to make a decision on the parking garage.