10-point Plan: Success or failure?
The city's Top 10 list included a recreational vehicle park at Bonita Lakes, like this one on Highway 45 North. R.V. travel is up nationwide, as retirees take to the road to see America. Photo by Carisa McCain/The Meridian Star.
By Ben Alexander/The Meridian Star
June 23, 2001
Almost 21/2 years after Mayor John Robert Smith and the Meridian City Council announced a list of projects to be completed by mid-summer of 2001, some have been accomplished, work has begun on some and others remain untouched.
The list of goals, called the "10-point Plan," ranged from creating an entertainment venue to buying new holiday decorations.
The plan was a collaboration between Smith and the city council Ward 1 Councilman Dr. George Thomas, then Ward 2 Councilman Richard Coleman, Ward 3 Councilman Barbara Henson, Ward 4 Councilman Jesse E. Palmer Sr. and Ward 5 Councilman Bobby Smith.
With the deadline for the 10-point plan almost at hand, the question is whether it has been a success or failure.
Henson said just because all the goals on the plan have not been completed doesn't mean they won't be.
Councilmen Smith, Thomas and Palmer could not be reached for comment. Mayor Smith is out of town, studying government at Harvard University.
One of the biggest undertakings in the plan was to build an entertainment facility in Meridian to attract big-name stars for concerts.
Maureen Lofton, Meridian's assistant for governmental affairs, said the Southern Arts and Entertainment Center should be the answer for the entertainment facility. Meridian was designated the site for the center in 2000, but not given any money to make it a reality.
According to Henson, other projects have also been completed including Highway 39 lighting improvements, a millennium celebration and strides in downtown revitalization.
In addition, the city appears ready to begin construction to connect NAS Meridian to the city's sewage system. In 1999, city leaders believed the project would be complete in the summer of 2000.
Although there has been progress, Henson said some projects have taken longer or have been disappointing.
One of the issues addressed by the plan was garbage collection problems the city had been having with Waste Management. With mounting debris in some streets, Henson said garbage is still a problem.
A proposed R.V. park and recreational water park for the Bonita Lakes area has yet to see any significant developments. It was hoped the R.V. park would attract valuable tourism dollars into the area. The water park was designed to draw thousands from surrounding counties during the summer.
Henson said both the proposed additions to Bonita need an interchange to the Highway 45 bypass in order to be successful and give tourists easy access into the areas.
Clark Seawright, a tourist staying at a local R.V. park during this State Games of Mississippi weekend, said a city-operated R.V. park could do good business if it had the right amenities.
Ben Alexander is a staff writer for The Meridian Star. Call him at 693-1551, ext. 3226, or e-mail him at balexander@