Sierra Club Releases Turkey Creek Study - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

10/20/03

Sierra Club Releases Turkey Creek Study

Derrick Evans knows every curve of Turkey Creek. He was born and raised in the community, and every boat ride he takes is an emotional and spiritual experience.

Evans said "People were baptized in this creek, hundreds, maybe thousands. This was also our swimming hole.  I mean people fish here, they boat here, it's a public asset, not just for the people of the Turkey Creek community".

Evans is worried that a plan to build a shopping center nearby would eventually ruin the pristine beauty of his beloved creek. Evans said "We're fearful that they may very well decide that the only way to accommodate more development, even though it was way upstream is to reconfigure the creek down here, to deepen it, to widen it, to channelize it".

Many people in the community have believed all along that such a huge development could hurt Turkey Creek, but they've had problems getting some city leaders to agree. Mayor Ken Combs even said back in August "They don't know nothin' about water. They think they do but you gotta have an engineering degree to know somethin' about water".

That's why the NAACP and the Sierra Club asked an engineering firm to study the issue. Howard Page with the Sierra Club said "Their study determined that you would have storm water runoff into Turkey Creek, you would have sediment runoff into Turkey Creek and you would have a loss in wetlands".

Page also says engineers for the developer used the wrong formula for a project of this size, to gauge its environmental impact. Page said "When you have the size of a wetland fill, or the size of a water displacement that you have with this project, the rational method is inadequate".

People like Evans hope the results will change city leaders's mind about the project. Evans said "I'm sorry, another strip mall is not a good enough reason. We've got plenty of them, they're increasing. We got fewer of these, they're decreasing".

Mayor Ken Combs left town late Friday afternoon, so WLOX was unable to reach him for a comment. Developer Butch Ward was also out of the offce.

By: Trang Pham-Bui

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