The Future of Highland Park

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The Frank Cochran Center at Highland Park in Meridian came alive Friday for the 23rd Annual Meridian Community College Big Band Bash. It's a tradition and organizers say they want to keep it that way.

"People who come to the Big Band Bash actually came to Highland Park as a child," said MCC's Michele Smith. "They were on the Dentzel Carousel. They came for the community concerts that were held."

Tradition aside, Highland Park has seen its share of problems over the last few years. The departure of Arts in the Park marks another one.

But city parks officials say they've solved one the main problems that has plagued Highland Park, young people cruising through at night and on the weekends.

Barriers have been placed in what was formerly a main intersection by the pavilion, meaning the park is no longer drive through.

They hope that will make the park safer and friendlier for families and children to return to for events.

Parks director Mark Naylor says he believes the park is actually in better shape now than it's ever been.

"I think for the next several years, you'll see people coming back. The picnic tables continually stay booked, with our pool and the carousel, this is still a destination park," Naylor said.

But it's no longer a destination for Arts in the Park. But Big Band Bash organizers certainly like it and they say they're hopeful for the future of Highland.

"With the tradition we have, Highland Park is just a great place," Smith said.

And many Meridianites also hope it's a place with a great future.