JJ presented it's own ideas on how to save the Jackson Zoo last Tuesday. The plan would move the entrance from Capitol Street to Fortification Street, make part of Bullard Street similar to the JSU Parkway, and beautify the area around the new entrance, the South entrance to Hawkins Field, and Sonny Guy golf course. However, some people didn't just reject this idea but were downright hostile to it. Exhibit A: One Kamikaze's comments on Facebook:
Did this guy learn anything when he worked for David Watkins? Ok, Kaze, start with Marketing 101 since you are a marketing guru. Who is your market for a zoo? Families. Black, white, fuscia, brown, purple, yellow, pickanycoloryoulike, but families. Families have what? Children. Parents tend to be protective of their children. It might be a foreign concept to some people but that is the truth. The zoo's declining attendance over the last twenty years reflects that truth as the current route to the zoo are not exactly conducive to making families feel safe.
It also appears Mr. Kaze has a problem with my using the phrase "war zone". The comment was made in jest but since Kaze took it seriously, it will now be treated in the same serious vein. What does one see around the entrance to the zoo? Boarded up buildings. Run-down homes. Vacant properties that are overgrown with weeds. Use Google Earth to check out the boarded up churches that are next to the zoo. Notice the roofs that are collapsing? Yes, it is true that the people who live near the zoo are all too often too poor to fix up their homes. However, the area around the zoo is what it is and it's appearance discourages people from visiting the zoo.
It can be argued all day long about how the area reached it's current state but sometimes looking at the past keeps one from looking forward. A thirty-year decline is not going to be fixed in one, two, or even ten years. How does one fix it? The city would probably take the usual path. First it would hire a consultant and "study" the problem. A plan would be developed in one or two years. The City Council then has to debate it to death. The same City Council and Administration that can't get parking meters squared away within a year. Once they approve a plan, there will be the matter of funding. Where will the city get the money to implement any plan? The city finances are deteriorating as the tax base declines. Obtaining state funding is a pipe dream unless someone can pull off a bond bill miracle - and it would be a miracle. So if we are lucky, a plan might be implemented in five years.
Did it ever occur to Kamikaze that someone who develops a plan to reverse the zoo's fortunes might not hate Jackson or black people? The zoo can't survive without the support of both black and white families. Period. We have roughly 200,000 of each group living in the Jackson metro area. 200,000 white people are simply not enough to support a quality zoo. However, 400,000 black and white citizens are more than enough to support a zoo if they are given something nice to support. Helping just white or black people never crossed this correspondent's mind as it was assumed the plan would help everyone. Such thinking must be an example of white privilege.
JJ presented an idea Tuesday that was cheap, practical, and showed how to combine some assets in West Jackson that could encourage some additional and much-needed development. More than a few leaders -black and white- contacted this correspondent to say they liked this idea. Some people want to keep the zoo where it is. Others want to move it to Lefleur's Bluff. Thus one group wants to stick its head in the sand while the other wants a $100 million pie in the sky that will never come down to earth. JJ rejected these two choices and looked for a third way that also benefits Jackson. JJ also expects the prime beneficiaries of this plan to be the black citizens of Jackson since they comprise 80% of the population.
It's rather funny. There is one group of readers that hates everything Jackson and wants to blow up the zoo (and probably Jackson if they had their way.) while another group that is its mirror image but think there is nothing wrong with the zoo or its location and if you think otherwise, you are a racist. They don't want to work with anyone, they refuse to see any problems, and then wonder why Jackson is in trouble. Perhaps we could lock both groups up in the same room so they could leave the rest of us alone.
Kaze's Facebook comment is an example of why we can't have nice things in Jackson. Jackson can't fix problems when it can't admit that there are problems. Meanwhile, black families continue to ignore Kamikaze move to the burbs. Maybe they see what he doesn't see.
Note: Atlanta faced similar problems: