African-American District Developments

Meridian, Miss. According to the Community Development director for the City of Meridian, John McClure, a $1,000,000 streetscape grant will be used to improve the city's historic African-American Business District. This will involve improvements along 5th Street that span from 26th Avenue to 22nd Avenue.

"That'll include such things such as: sidewalk improvements, landscaping, trees, pedestrian lighting," says McClure. "We're looking at further down the road being able to bring the utilities underground so we'll be doing the infrastructure things now so that it will facilitate in the future when the funds become available."

McClure says city officials are currently in discussions about possibly placing markers, much like the one in front of the Temple Theater, in front of the most historic civil rights sites.

The previous mayor's administration wanted to establish a Freedom Park in Meridian. According to McClure, officials with the current administration are examining whether or not that plan or another one will best recognize the strides that have been made by civil rights leaders.

"We're looking at all of the various proposals and projects and so on and trying to see which ones we need to attempt to do first, and it (the Freedom Park project) like all the others is certainly alive," says McClure. "It will be scrutinized, and we'll try to make a judgment on how we can best utilize the public's limited resources to get the most benefit for all."

The $1,000,000 streetscape grant is from the Mississippi Department of Transportation. McClure expects bidding for that work to start by the end of this spring or this summer. After that, he projects that actual work on the project will start before the end of this year.