City buys 200 acres off Fisher Ferry for softball fields

Published 12:00 am Friday, September 12, 2003

[9/12/03] The City of Vicksburg has signed a deal to buy 200 acres off Fisher Ferry Road for a $1 million softball complex.

The city closed the deal last week to buy the site west of St. Michael Catholic Church for $325,000 from an Alabama lumber company.

“We’re kicking around some ideas right now” for the complex, said Craig Upton, the director of the city’s parks and recreation department. He said he is waiting on direction from the Board of Mayor and Aldermen to begin work.

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The complex is expected to cost about $1 million including the purchase of the land and is being funded out of the $17.5 million city bond issue. Proposals on the table have included four adult softball fields and concessions with plans for expansions in the future.

South Ward Alderman Sid Beauman, a former director of parks and recreation, said site work could begin before the end of the year. “If everything goes like I think, I would hope that sometime next fall it could be built,” he said.

City officials looked at several sites including one along the Mississippi River, but picked the tract along Fisher Ferry Road because of the area available there. Beauman said they some day hope to expand the complex to include walking trails, picnic areas and soccer fields.

Concerns have been raised about potential flooding on that land from nearby Hatcher Bayou, which often overflows into the Hamilton Heights neighborhood north of the bayou. Beauman said that although they may have to have a wetlands study through the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers before building, he is confident that flooding will not be a problem because of the elevation at the site.

Topographical maps show Hatcher Bayou at about 100 feet above sea level. The land along the edge of the bayou is flat for several yards, but rises quickly to about 220 feet above see level.

Mike Logue, spokesman for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, said that some of the low-lying land is in a 10-year flood plane, meaning it would go under water on average once every 10 years. He also called the city’s plans for the area a “good” use for property in a flood plane. “That’s actually a preferred use for an area like that,” he said.

Beauman said city officials are also looking at possible traffic concerns that could develop along Fisher Ferry and Halls Ferry roads as a result of the softball complex. Halls Ferry Road is one of the city’s busiest streets with the main entrance to the U. S. Army Engineer Research and Development Center and several residential areas.

“There’s probably going to have to be some roadwork done,” Beauman said.

The proposed complex was first proposed 10 years ago. A bond issue in 1993 had been earmarked for the fields, but instead went to build the $1.7 million City Pool.

Beauman has said the choice between softball and soccer was made based upon the declining conditions of the softball fields at City Park. There are no city-maintained soccer fields in Vicksburg, and the local soccer organization hosts matches in Bovina.

Those soccer fields are built in part on land owned by the school district and are maintained by Warren County.