Panel looks at sale of former Miss. blind school property

Published 4:36 pm Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Legislators plan to look into the possibility of selling land in north Jackson that used to be the location of the Mississippi School for the Blind.

The former site sits on about 22 acres at Interstate 55 and Eastover Drive. A few vacant buildings, an administrator’s house and a bus barn occupy the land.

About four years ago, the School for the Blind moved onto the same campus as the School for the Deaf, which is south of Eastover Drive.

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A joint House and Senate committee will review possibilities for the site over the next four months. Hearing began Tuesday.

House Education Committee Chairman Cecil Brown, D-Jackson, who lives in a neighborhood near the property, said if lawmakers decide to sell the land, the impact on traffic and the surrounding area will be factors for determining future use.

“The whole point of the thing is we’ve got a piece of vacant property out there with a couple of abandoned buildings on it that is prime property in terms of frontage on the interstate,” Brown said. “And what should we do with it?”

A combination of residential, retail and office use on the land would be ideal, said developer Mike Peters.

“That’s one of the better parcels that’s still available,” said Peters, who has not inquired about the site. “What will make it attractive is you’ve got a blank slate.”

Eastover Neighborhood Association President David Sanders said the potential sale has not yet burned up the phone lines in his neighborhood.

“I’m sure the neighborhood would want there to be some planned development not just some helter skelter,” Sanders said.

The land is zoned as a special use district, which is typical of public buildings, said Carl Allen, Jackson’s interim director of planning and economic development. The designation could be changed.