"Solutions for Gautier" Voicing Concerns, Creating Answers

Dark streets, dirty water, and nowhere to walk. Those are just some of the concerns a citizens group in Gautier sorted through Tuesday night. But along with voicing concerns, the residents are also offering solutions. Keli Rabon was at the meeting and reports on what improvements this determined group is trying to make to Gautier.

"When we talk about solutions for Gautier, we don't want to look in our rear view mirrors. We're going to tear those off, and look through the windshield," Solutions for Gautier chairman Chuck Simpson said.

Members of the group "Solutions for Gautier" hope to be the driving force toward a stronger, safer, and more successful city. Among their top priorities -- sidewalks to make the city more pedestrian-friendly.

"From the college, over to the mall. That way we wouldn't have people going across 90, going across Gautier-Vancleave. Not only would it be a safety factor, but it would be another way to enhance our town center," Simpson said.

Just last month, Gautier city leaders officially declared that area "downtown." Solutions members say attracting new businesses to that part of town would keep locals spending their money within city limits.

"We were better off than any other city on the coast, and jump on it. Let's get them in here. We've got a beautiful mall, why can't we get those businesses in there?" Gautier resident Rose Harvey asked.

Another item on the wish list: improving city parks. Outdated playground equipment and recreation facilities could be improved through grants.

"If we have a committee who will research the grants for what we're looking for and a committee that is willing to be trained to write grants and work with the grant writer for the city, we might be able to find a lot of money to fulfill our dreams for the city of Gautier," Gautier resident Juanita Colvin said.

City leaders are encouraging this kind of open communication with residents. City Planner George Carbo says teamwork is the key to success in making these ideas a reality.

"If we can all come together, we can make little steps even bigger to make Gautier what you want it to be," Carbo said.

"Solutions for Gautier" also formed specific committees to match those the city already has in place. From Tuesday night's suggestions, those committees will work toward solutions, then submit their ideas to corresponding city committees.