Old schools would make great green spaces

Published 10:17 am Monday, May 16, 2016

While we may lament the low turnout at Tuesday’s open house, there’s good reason to celebrate the outcome. Among other issues, the city school district seemed to take seriously the idea of giving one or two of the old, unused school campuses to the city for the purpose of turning the space into a park.

This could be great news.

Yes, a teardown could be costly, though as Bill Arata has rightly pointed out, there are federal grants potentially available to help with that cost.

Cost aside, a nice, well-kept green space could be of real value to a neighborhood and to the community as a whole. Take a drive through Picayune and take a look at Crosby Commons as an example of what could happen when a former building is turned into a park. In the case of the Crosby Commons, that space used to house Picayune’s hospital; now it’s the center for barbecue cook offs, music events and other community activities. Even creating nothing more than a safe green space with a basketball court and a walking trail around the perimeter would be of benefit to the community.

We are all aware of the population loss our community has endured. We hope that loss has stopped, but a shrinking population isn’t something we can ignore. As people leave, stores close, homes are left abandoned and schools are emptied. These buildings are too often left idle and empty, creating eyesores and targets of vandalism. Creating new parks could be a great way to turn a loss into a gain.