City makes offer to buy first urban renewal property

Published 12:00 am Friday, April 26, 2002

[04/26/02]Vicksburg officials made an offer Thursday to purchase the first parcel under the plan to revitalize downtown Vicksburg.

The undisclosed offer went to former South Ward Alderman Don Miller to buy his building at 1701 Mulberry St., across from the Vicksburg Convention Center.

“We are excited to be able to start on our urban renewal plan,” said Mayor Laurence Leyens. “But, it’s going to take a long time.”

The building is vacant and will be torn down and made into additional parking for the convention center, City Planner Ronnie Bounds said.

It is one of 20 parcels the city plans to acquire in the first phase of urban renewal. In all, the city plans to acquire 48 properties during the next 10 years and sell them to people who pledge to improve them or set them aside for public use.

The city has already sent letters of intent to four owners, but before the transaction can be complete the city has to take several steps including an appraisal, review appraisal and survey.

While public money is used in the process, state law allows officials to keep amounts secret. Offers on the properties are based on appraisals and are at fair market value, Leyens said.

“It could be another two weeks before we close on this property,” Leyens said of the Miller parcel. Miller, a gas and oil business veteran, served one term from 1993 until 1997 and did not seek re-election.

Acquiring property in downtown is part of the city’s $5.6 million revitalization plans being funded out of the $17.5 million bond issue.

In other matters the board:

Presented a certificate of recognition to Charlie Stamps in the gas department.

Authorized the City Clerk to readvertise for bids for police radar systems and vehicle cameras after no bids were received.

Awarded bids for uniforms and grass cutting.

Accepted a franchise check in the amount of $118,117 from Entergy.

Denied a request by the Good Shepherd Community Center to waive a fee and deposit for use of the Sherman Avenue Park. The policy for park use by a group does not allow the board to waive fees.

Approved a request by the Fostoria Homeowners Association to block DeWitt Street between Drummond and Cherry streets on May 19 between 4 p.m. and 8 p.m. for a block party.

Tentatively authorized a $2,500 allocation to the Chamber Music Festival.

Approved a request by the Mountain of Faith Ministries to tie balloons on utility poles Saturday along the route of the Walk For Jesus.

Approved a $160 full-page ad in the Mississippi High School All-Star Baseball Game program. Aaron George, a member of the St. Aloysius High School Baseball team, was selected to play in the All-Star Game.

Approved a request to connect Charles Riles Funeral Home on Indiana Avenue to city sewer lines.

Increased the minimum monthly benefits for retired police and firefighters under the city’s old retirement system from $500 a month to $750.

Contracted with Pneuma Productions Inc., to videotape a community meeting, called a Charrette program, next week. The program will be aired on Channel 23, the city’s cable access channel and the city will pay $2,520 for the additional videographers.

The board will meet again at 10 a.m. May 6 at City Hall Annex.