Green space work beginning, uses need planning

Published 7:00 am Wednesday, July 23, 2014

The Picayune City Council recently approved beginning the work on the first phase of development at the green space in the heart of town created by the demolition of the old Crosby Memorial Hospital.

Soon, plans will be presented for a walking trail, some sort of stage for open-air performances and other aspects of the further development of the space. Residents need to begin now with ideas for uses for the space other than evening or early morning walks.

Many municipalities use similar developments as the core site for festivals and weekend entertainment, ranging from showing movies to symphonic productions to staging plays, especially Shakespearean works.

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On that later note, a teacher at Pearl River Central, Ginger Schmidt, is attending a summer course Juilliard, the famous fine arts school in New York City, on producing Shakespearean plays. What finer place could there be for her and her students to show off their skills for the public at large than the green space? Add to that the thespians at Picayune and Poplarville, the bands and ensembles at all of the local schools and the show choirs the schools also support. Then think about Picayune On Stage and other local arts groups associated with GPAC and the community band that seek places for their members to display their talents.

Personally, I envision a Saturday evening where local citizens stroll along the walking path, moving from one small musical group to another, sort of a smorgasbord of music for music lovers. Perhaps between the musical groups local artists could display some of their works for perusal by the hopefully happy strollers.

Poplarville has the magnificent, new Ethel Holden Brownstone Center for the Arts at Pearl River Community College where both students at the school and residents in the surrounding area are beginning to enjoy what such a facility can mean for lovers of the performing arts.

Picayune doesn’t have such an enclosed space, but it does have this green space, that if properly utilized, can mean a great deal for the arts community and for arts lovers at this end of the county.

There is no reason why it shouldn’t be a catalyst for the arts community but there is a reason why it may not.

That reason is the ordinance that bans parking on Goodyear Boulevard, the street on which the green space fronts, after 9 p.m., except maybe once a month in special circumstances and only on a greatly restricted part of the boulevard and only with the permission of the city council.

Goodyear Boulevard belongs to all the citizens of this community, not just those approximately nine families that one or more members of the city council seem to consider much more special than the rest of us.

We need to ask our council members to do away with this ridiculous ordinance so that this green space can become the venue for the arts that it could become, helping to make our community even more attractive.