Neighbors unite, seek city’s help, get it

Published 12:00 am Monday, March 3, 2003

Harrison Street and South Street Neighborhood Association members, from left, Robert Stewart, Peggy Rector, Rayshawn Kelley, 9, Veronica Smith and Josephine Calloway stand near Harrison and First North streets.(C. Todd Sherman The Vicksburg Post)

[3/03/03] Residents along Harrison and South streets have taken up the mayor’s call for more participation by offering a detailed plan for their neighborhood and making a request for help from the city.

Representatives of the Harrison Street and South Street Neighborhood Association presented the Vicksburg Board of Mayor and Aldermen last week with a four-phase plan that includes landscaping, sidewalk repairs and lighting.

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“We’re an active group of taxpayers seeking to beautify our neighborhood,” said Peggy Rector, 1441 Harrison.

Mayor Laurence Leyens, who has said more citizens should be involved in directing government, said he will support the group’s effort to improve their area.

“I’m just extremely impressed,” Leyens told group members. “It makes it easy for government when you prioritize requests. I guess I’m just eager to show you that I can make a difference.”

The association is made up of residents east of Cherry Street along Harrison, South and First North streets. The group came together in 1997 to reach out to neighbors in an area that had been plagued with crime and street-corner drug-dealers.

Since then, residents have taken food baskets to the elderly, beautified two street corners and set up a Sept. 11 memorial that includes a permanent flag pole at First North and Harrison.

“It means a lot to us when neighborhoods come together to make a difference and not just to leave it all up to government,” said North Ward Alderman Gertrude Young.

Bringing together residents in neighborhood associations was one of the stated goals of Leyens’ administration. City officials with the help of David Gibson, vice president of the Wildwood Neighborhood Association, have identified about 14 active associations across Vicksburg.

Gibson said that the associations not only help build a sense of community within the neighborhoods, but can also assist government by identifying problems such as litter, illegal dump sites or areas that need improvement.

“If we had two to three people in each neighborhood looking, we’d have 60 eyes out there,” Gibson said.

The proposal presented by the Harrison and South streets residents includes landscaping at Harrison and First North streets and at South and First North streets. The group is also asking the city to repair sidewalks along First North, Harrison and South streets where neighborhood children walk most days to school bus stops.

“This is a very heavily traveled street,” Rector said.

They are also seeking 12 new street lights and 25 trees along the streets. The final part of the request is replacing brick paving on the east end of Harrison Street leading to McRaven Tour Home.

Leyens said the city will move forward with the work immediately and hopes to have most of the work except for the brick paving finished in about 30 days.