Since my name and a quote was attributed to me I thought I needed to set the record straight – if for nothing more, the truth and my peace of mind. I hope the paper will do likewise. After the contentious Presidential Election the country has experienced, I would think the public deserves an accurate portrayal of factual events.
First of all – a bit about me and who I am. My name is Harry Alexander and I grew up in Grenada, MS. I was fortunate at an early age (in the late 50’s and 60’s) to begin coming to Oxford with my dad who at that time was a professional photographer.
He did work with the University and at an early age, I fell in love with Ole Miss and the area as a whole. My mom grew up in Sardis, was Lady of the Lake back in the 40’s and is buried in Sardis. I make a regular trip to Rose Hill Cemetery to visit where she and my dad are buried. No trip to Sardis is complete without a stop by Tribecca Allie for lunch. Much like no trip to Water Valley is complete without a trip to BTC Grocery for a pimento cheese and chicken sandwich.
I began attending Ole Miss in 1972, finished in 1976 and then moved to Jackson, MS. In 1981 I had the opportunity to go into business for myself in Oxford and have worked for myself in this community ever since. I have lived and worked in Oxford for 40 of the last 45 years. No one has a greater love of, or investment in this community and this area than I.
Since 1972 I have seen the steady growth of our community. Lots of changes, most, I believe Oxonians would say for the better. Having a brick and mortar business on the Downtown Square in the 80’s and 90’s, I have experienced the changes – especially in and around downtown.
I remember when the drug store that is now Old Venice Pizza was for sale for $48,000. It sat empty for months because the owners could not give it away. When I was a partner in what was then Syd & Harry’s Restaurant (now City Grocery) the building owner approached us about buying the building for $100,000. I couldn’t afford it and thought that price was crazy high. Now that building would sell for at least 10 times that amount.
I remember when the first mall was built on Jackson Avenue and long-time Downtown Square business owners tried to band together to block its development by a Mr. Paul Broadhead from Meridian, MS. People were scared of their businesses declining because “The New Mall” would drive them out of business. Yes, people were scared of what was “going to happen.”
I’m not sure who Mr. Mickey Howley is. I’ve never had the pleasure of meeting him or discussing this with him so I’m not certain how he got a quote from me. He did not take the time to give me a call. Other than my son, the only two folks I’ve ever spoken to or communicated with about the park are Cinnamon Foster, whom I met at the trailer park on Friday afternoon, January 27, at 4:30 p.m., and Sherry Fischer, a professional realtor who I received a text from regarding the park.
Since this is an Opinion Page, it is my opinion that the way Mr. Howley portrayed me, the way and what I said is inaccurate. What I did say to both of them, one face to face and one via text, was that “the folks in the trailer park are the ones who should be pissed – having to look at this crap at the water department” every day. That is an eyesore.
The point of my letter is this. Times change and communities change. Growth will by necessity create change. Will these four fellows expand the trailer park? I have no idea. Through my involvement in real estate for the last 20 years, I do know this – If they did, it would take them years to accomplish and cost them hundreds of thousands of dollars through improvements in drainage, land, landscaping, utilities, housing, etc.
What their plans are I don’t know, but I also know this. These four young men are all successful business owners in their hometown of Oxford. They all work hard, play by the rules, have families, are active in their churches and communities and have all made positive impacts in their community. Collectively they have hundreds, probably in the thousands of clients who will vouch for their character, integrity, and business practices. I wonder if Mr. Howley and Ms. Fussell are as highly regarded? Judging from Harold Sprayberry’s “Letter to the Editor,” I would say it was debatable. After viewing the existing park, the storage area beside and behind the Water Valley Water Department, and the vacant lot that fronts Main Street, it is my opinion from decades of watching Oxford and other towns grow, that Water Valley, or any town for that matter, would be so fortunate as to have four individuals like this, willing to invest and help improve an area that is an obvious eyesore, City Property included.
My guess is, however, Mr. Howley is like business owners were in Oxford in the 1980’s, those who were scared of new folks coming to town, and what new ideas those folks may have to make a positive difference in an area that could use improvement.
In the future, please don’t hesitate giving me a call should you want to discuss the matter further or get an accurate quote. The public deserves it.
Harry A. Alexander