Published 12:00 am Wednesday, May 5, 2004

bathroom dropped from city’s art park proposal

[05/04/04] A $200,000 bathroom has been dropped from plans as Vicksburg seeks bids a second time for a downtown art park near City Front.

The Vicksburg Board of Mayor and Aldermen voted Monday to re-advertise the adjusted project after previous bids came back at $3.9 million. The entire project, which includes a spray park, interactive displays and a steamboat playground, is budgeted at $2.3 million.

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“If we can get a bid back in under budget, then I’ll be all for it,” said South Ward Alderman Sid Beauman.

The $200,000 restroom complex was to be built into the hill below Washington Street. The new design will have stand-alone facilities just above Levee Street. Beauman said he expects the new design to drop the cost of restrooms by $140,000, but there’s no way to know until bids are received.

Mayor Laurence Leyens had pushed for the more expensive bathrooms, which included a stage area on the roof. Instead, the project now includes a separate stage below Washington Street.

“We redesigned and simplified some of the features to reduce the costs,” Leyens said. “But, it was real important that we not lose the significance of the plan.”

The project area is between Grove and Clay streets along Levee Street. City officials say they hope to begin work this summer and finish around February.

That area today is across railroad tracks from City Front murals and is vacant since the removal of the former McGuffie Steel building.

Parts from the sternwheeler Sprague are also kept there and are expected to be incorporated into the park.

The record-setting towboat burned at its moorings in Vicksburg on April 15, 1974.

Plans for downtown near the park also include a railroad museum at the former Levee Street Depot, which the city has already purchased from a private owner, and an amphitheater between Washington and Levee streets. The depot restoration began this year, but plans for the amphitheater are on hold because of a pending eminent domain case over property at Jackson and Levee streets.

The park project will be funded from the $17.5 million bond issue the administration authorized in November 2001. In September, the city wrapped up a $2.6 million reconstruction of downtown Washington Street, and the $5.6 million urban renewal project is ongoing.

In other matters before the city board:

Leyens addressed the board’s policy regarding public comments and the rules to be placed on the agenda. He said anyone was welcome to speak to the board, but that if they violated the city’s policy or went over the 3-minute time limit they would be taken off RCTV 23. “We’re not going to have a circus show here,” Leyens said.

Approved allocating funds from the Main Street account to pay for television advertising to promote downtown. The ads will run on local cable, RCTV 23 and in various Delta communities.

Declared Thursday National Day of Prayer in Vicksburg. Prayer sites will be scattered around the city including at City Hall. Services at City Hall will begin at 12:15 p.m.

Administered the oath of office of a police officer to Harold Allen.

Presented senior of the month, Jay Brown.

Authorized final payment to Hemphill Construction for the wastewater treatment plant bar screen replacement project.

Approved a subdivision plat for Acadia Ridge.

Entered a contract for instructional services for a tennis tournament June 4, 5 and 6 for adults. The cost is being paid through a grant.

Approved matching funds of $1,800 to Central Mississippi Prevention Service for a summer youth program.

Accepted a grant from the Mississippi Department of Public Safety for seat-belt enforcement and education over Memorial Day weekend through the police department.

Declared property surplus and authorized its sale at auction by Durham Auctioneers on June 6 and 12 in Hattiesburg.

Approved the claims docket.

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