Let’s try something new in Roselawn

Published 12:00 am Thursday, July 1, 2010

Kudos to The Natchez Democrat for calling attention to the deteriorating quality of life in local neighborhoods like Roselawn. Each is a microcosm of the issues that challenge our broader community, and it will take the creative energies of the broader community to make a difference.

I am one of those many, many people who have taken advantage of the affordable rent in the Roselawn area after moving to Natchez. I lived in one side of a duplex on Miller from 1994 to 1996, and in a duplex-turned-single house on Marquette from 1996 to 2003.

Though neither house was in bad shape, it is the nature of lower-rent housing that the owners want to keep their investment costs down. It was not hard to pick out the rental properties from those occupied by homeowners who took more pride in appearance and invested more time in upkeep.

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One thing I observed was the lack of healthy opportunities for children in the neighborhood — no playground or park. When working in my front garden I often interacted with children wandering the streets who were very curious about flowers and nature.

What if a local church or other nonprofit partnership could take one of the unoccupied houses and develop it into a playground/park/day care facility?

What about a community gathering spot? Or branch library or tutorial/literacy center? Or home for classes in home maintenance or gardening or pet care?

Or maybe even headquarters for the neighborhood watch or a police presence?

Or a gathering spot for seniors? Or a community garden overseen by master gardeners? Or a place for church gatherings?

Natchez is a small town and life overall is pretty pleasant, but I think we could see significant quality of life improvements by looking closely at individual neighborhoods and getting to know the people there and their needs — then addressing them on a small scale within the neighborhoods themselves rather than in a centralized fashion city-wide.

It would have the extra benefit of leading neighbors to get to know one another. These kinds of concerns are not easily addressed by a large recreational multi-plex away from residential areas.

Maybe someone will take this idea further — the new city planner? Community Alliance? Ministerial Alliance?

Roselawn is not the only neighborhood in Natchez that is struggling with such transitions, but it provides an opportunity to experiment with some new possibilities.

Kathleen Bond

Natchez resident