Options are being explored to develop Sowashee Creek in Meridian. Newly elected city councilwoman, Kim Houston, is examining ways to develop Sowashee Creek into a family friendly recreational site. A significant portion of the creek is located near the interstate.
"I was in Gatlinburg not long ago this summer and the river that flows through that city, it is just beautiful," says Houston, who represents Ward 4. "They have little parks set up along the way where you can stop; there are also walking trails around it. Just think about Sowashee if we were to clean it up. In that particular city (Gatlinburg) they actually brought water in to make sure that that river flows like it needs to."
During the 1990's federal money had been allocated to develop Sowashee Creek into a recreational area. However, that plan was nixed when a new administration took office. At this time Councilwoman Houston says she's searching to find money that might be available for the project.
Also on her agenda is cleaning up Ward 4. This something that is welcomed by residents.
"When you go places, it's grown up around here and you've got to pull out in the street to see, you know, how you can get where you're going," says Rose Johnson. "It's a lot of stuff going on around here, a lot of stuff is grown up and you've got people going in the abandoned houses around here where people live at. It's just scary, and something needs to be done about this around here."
Councilwoman Houston strongly believes that nothing positive happens unless you at least try. That's why she's currently exploring the option of how volunteers from the community can help clean some blighted pieces of property, which for now at least, the city cannot.
"The people who live around here would be willing to do that, anything that would help their neighborhood and community look good," says Johnson.
Meanwhile, Houston describes the community cleanup effort and Sowashee project as building blocks for economic development.
"If we want industry here and good paying jobs, we have to do something to make it inviting for the employees, not just for the industry, but for the people who live here. We've got to have something for them to do."
Councilwoman Houston is sponsoring a community meeting in Ward 4 on August 27th. It will be held at the Council of Organizations Building at 5:30 PM. The mayor, city department heads and other community leaders have been invited. The meeting is open to the public.