The high price of city living
May 6, 2001
Callers to Meridian talk radio made good points last week with personal stories of why they moved out of the city. As voters choose the next mayor and members of the council, the time is right to examine these complaints.
Are they valid? And, if so, what lessons can be learned for the benefit of the people still here?
One caller complained of a brick thrown through the back window of his sports utility vehicle while it sat in his driveway. The same caller said he discovered a "crackhead" hiding, presumably from the police, one night in his shrubbery. The suspect got away and came back the next night to collect his dope and pipe.
Another caller reported a neighbor's car was stripped one night of stereo equipment and hubcaps again while the car sat in the driveway of the home.
Both moved out of Meridian and into what they perceived as safer neighborhoods in the Collinsville area. Both represent a loss for the city of Meridian, but a gain for Lauderdale County and the growing community of Collinsville.
Peace of mind
Both said they were simply looking for a good place to live so they could go to work, come home and find some peace of mind. They were seeking a higher quality of life and could not find it in the city.
And, both agreed, while solid neighborhoods still exist in the city, the concepts of neighborliness, caring and respect for other peoples' property are dwindling.
This attitude, represented by participants in a forum which solicits such compelling stories, should concern candidates for public office in Meridian. The perception is of a city in transition losing population, a corroding tax base, changing racial demographics.
We hope incumbent mayor John Robert Smith and challengers Charlie Haynes, William Hugh Johnson and Bill McBride will share the specifics of how they expect to deal with these kinds of problems.
Meridian, above all else, must become a people-friendly city. Residents must feel safe in their homes. Young people need to learn to respect other peoples' property. Visitors should be welcomed with open arms, greeted with attractive, appealing entrances to a city in which many options exist for entertainment, shopping and cultural activities. Neighborhoods dotted with piles of rotting limbs and leaves must be cleaned up. Potholes must be repaired. Litter along our roadways must be picked up. A good coat of paint here and there might do wonders.
The Meridian Star refuses to accept the idea that Meridianites are lazy, lethargic and don't care about each other. Too many people work too hard in this city and have too much pride in it to see it disintegrate.
In an age when greener pastures are perceived to lie just outside the city limits, Meridian's leaders must take aggressive and immediate steps to improve the perception that the price of city living is too high.
City elections afford the perfect opportunity to address these issues because the politicians need voters' support and voters need the politicians' attention.