Columbus organization proposes $20M project for Kerr-McGee site

Project Reimagine is its name. Ideas range from housing to a storm shelter that serves as a community center.

COLUMBUS, Miss. (WCBI) – A Columbus organization has a $20 million idea on how to rethink what the old Kerr-McGee site could be like in a few years.

City leaders heard more about those plans this morning.

Project Reimagine is its name. Ideas range from housing to a storm shelter that serves as a community center.

There are 19 acres available through the Multi-State Trust at the Kerr-McGee site.

Darren Leach is the executive director of the Memphis Town Community Action Group. His proposal would start with half a dozen and move forward from there.

Conversations continue with people living near the former Kerr-McGee site, in north Columbus, about what they want the future of their community to look like.

“What we want to do through reimagining Columbus is get a picture of in our minds what those communities that are being disinvested in what should they look like and how can we get the resources available so that it can look like it should look,” Leach said.

Leach said the years of chemicals being leaked into the ground and slow clean-up has led to people and businesses moving away.

The action group’s project, Reimagine Columbus, wants to build affordable housing and a storm shelter to be used as a multiplex area.

“Once we get it done right in one area it becomes a model. And we could start branching out to other areas. So, we want to concentrate our efforts to make sure that it is visible. That the change in the community is visible,” Leach said.

Columbus Mayor Keith Gaskin said this could be a game-changer for the area.

“Your ultimate goal is to create a seamless city where you are going through your town. And there is not a big disparity between the neighborhoods. In Columbus and in many small cities like ours, four blocks can make a huge difference in someone’s quality of life. So, with grants like this and a couple of other projects we are already working on within the city, we can make what we would hope to be a seamless city,” Gaskin said.

The project could also improve infrastructure in the community.

“We know that part of our community when it floods it’s like ‘well it flooded but we want to do something about it’. We don’t want to just feel bad about them feel sorry for them we want to fix it. People talk to us all the time about sewage backup in that area. And we want to fix that stuff,” Leach said.

Both Gaskin and Leach said it’s important to get as many people in the area involved and onboard for the future plans.

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